I’ve been told by my M.D. that I have something called GERD. The doctor told me to lose weight and watch the fat and chocolate in my diet.
Take comfort in knowing that more than 60 million Americans deal with the unpleasantness of gastroesophageal reflux disease, and the heartburn that often accompanies it, at least once a month. Needless to say, with a name like gastroesophageal reflux, it’s no wonder the medical community shortened it to GERD. Heartburn, or acid indigestion, is the most common symptom for folks with GERD. About 25 million American adults suffer from heartburn daily.
Actually, the name of the disease defines the problem. GERD involves the stomach (gastro), the esophagus (esophageal,) and a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that connects the two.
The esophagus is the tunnel or passageway that the food travels through from the mouth to get to the stomach. GERD occurs when the stomach contents, including the acidy juices, move back up (reflux) into the esophagus. Normally, the LES relaxes and allows the food to continue into the stomach. Then the LES cleverly tightens to prevent the contents of the stomach from creeping back up. When the LES is working like a charm, everything is hunky-dory. However, when the LES isn’t working properly, the stomach contents move up in the wrong direction, irritating the esophagus. Many folks with GERD complain that their meals “come back to talk to them” after they eat.
Certain foods, such as chocolate, mint, fatty foods, citrus fruits and juices, tomato products, pepper, coffee, and alcoholic beverages can either irritate the esophagus or weaken the LES, setting the stage for the stomach contents to reflux upward. Avoiding or limiting these can be helpful.
Smoking also weakens the LES, so this would be a good time to kick the habit.