How Your Weight Affects Your Acid Reflux

At least 15 million people in the United States experience daily heartburn, and many of these people have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This chronic condition can lead to esophageal damage, not to mention the discomfort and unpleasantness of burning sensations around your chest and upper belly.

Anyone can get the symptoms of heartburn due to a large meal or upset tummy, but GERD is chronic. You experience symptoms at least two times a week, and usually more often. 

Being overweight is the biggest factor associated with GERD. If you’re obese, you’re nearly three times more likely than people of a normal weight to develop acid reflux. If you’re overweight, your symptoms may be extra uncomfortable. Here’s why.

Symptoms of GERD

People with GERD have the familiar burning in the chest and digestive tract caused by the upward action of stomach acid. Other symptoms include:

Your weight can make these symptoms worse.

Excess pressure

Your weight increases pressure on your abdomen. The extra fat around the belly squeezes your stomach, so more fluid travels upward into your esophagus. This makes it more likely you experience stomach acid leakage and GERD.

The added pressure also causes the sphincter that sits between the stomach and the esophagus to relax, allowing stomach acid into the esophagus. Being overweight also makes your body less efficient at emptying the stomach contents quickly.

If your pants are a little tight, this too can aggravate symptoms of heartburn. Losing weight so your clothes are less snug also helps.

Best way to lose weight to relieve GERD

A heart-healthy diet supports weight loss and reduces heartburn symptoms. Pay attention to portion sizes and calorie density. Fill yourself up until you feel satisfied, but not stuffed.

As long as it’s balanced, contains plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy unsaturated fat, your diet contains the nutrients to support good health. Add at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily (more if you want to lose weight faster) as well.

If simple calorie control and increased physical activity fail to help, consult Dr. Pothuri here at GastroDoxs. He can offer recommendations that may help kick start your weight-loss efforts.

And as long as heartburn symptoms plague you, continue to follow smart habits that keep symptoms at bay. For example, avoid foods that trigger heartburn, including coffee, tomatoes, and spicy or fried foods. Once you’ve lost weight, some of these foods may be tolerable again – but for now, skip them.

Chocolate and alcohol are also common heartburn triggers, plus they don’t help a lot when you’re on a weight-loss plan. Eat small meals to minimize your heartburn symptoms and to help keep your hunger at bay when you’re losing weight. Avoid late-night snacking, too. Not only does it sneak extra calories into your diet, it can also aggravate heartburn if you go to bed soon after your snack.

If you have GERD and need relief, call GastroDoxs or book an appointment using the online tool. We help people in the greater Houston area manage heartburn with weight loss, lifestyle changes, and medications, if necessary. 

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