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Reflux/GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease): Causes, Treatment, and Nutritional Implications


Reflux/GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease): Causes, Treatment, and Nutritional Implications

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), commonly known as reflux, is a chronic condition characterized by the backward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus. It can lead to uncomfortable symptoms and potential complications. In this blog post, we will explore the known causes, treatment options, and the nutritional impact of GERD. We will also discuss how nutrition counselling can help manage the condition. Canadian sources with links will be provided for further information.

  1. Causes of Reflux/GERD:

  • Weak Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES): A weakened LES allows stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus.

  • Hiatal Hernia: When the upper part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm, it can disrupt the LES function.

  • Obesity: Excess weight can increase pressure on the abdomen, contributing to reflux.

  • Certain Foods and Lifestyle Factors: Spicy foods, fatty foods, caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and eating large meals can exacerbate symptoms.

  1. Treatment Options:

  • Lifestyle Modifications: Making changes to dietary and lifestyle habits can alleviate reflux symptoms. These may include weight loss, avoiding trigger foods, eating smaller meals, and not lying down immediately after eating.

  • Medications: Over-the-counter antacids and prescription medications, such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or H2 receptor blockers, may be prescribed to reduce stomach acid production and alleviate symptoms.

  • Surgical Interventions: In severe cases or when medications are ineffective, surgical procedures like fundoplication may be recommended to strengthen the LES.

  1. Nutritional Considerations:

  • Trigger Foods: Nutrition counselling helps identify and avoid trigger foods that worsen reflux symptoms, such as spicy foods, citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate, caffeine, and fatty or fried foods.

  • Portion Control: Consuming smaller, more frequent meals rather than large meals can reduce the risk of reflux.

  • Weight Management: Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight through proper nutrition can help alleviate reflux symptoms.

  • Dietary Modifications: A registered dietitian can provide guidance on creating an individualized meal plan that emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods, includes adequate fiber, and limits foods that trigger reflux.

  • Elevating the Head of the Bed: Raising the head of the bed by a few inches can help prevent reflux episodes during sleep.

  1. Research and Further Information:

  • Canadian Digestive Health Foundation - Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: https://cdhf.ca/digestive-disorders/gastroesophageal-reflux-disease/

  • Dietitians of Canada - Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Gastrointestinal-Disorders/Gastroesophageal-Reflux-Disease-(GERD)

Nutrition counselling is beneficial for individuals with reflux/GERD as it provides personalized guidance to manage symptoms through dietary modifications, portion control, and weight management. Working with a registered dietitian can optimize nutritional choices and improve quality of life for those living with GERD.

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