Updated: Nov 19, 2021
Often known as heartburn, GORD (which stands for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease) is a common condition that can affect people with differing severity.
When we eat, the food is passed down from our
mouths to our stomach through the oesophagus. In the stomach, an acid fluid helps to break down food for digestion. Usually, this cannot return back into the oesophagus because there is a sphincter, which acts like a door, on the top of the stomach. The sphincter usually only opens when food needs to enter the stomach. When this doesn't work properly, it is like the door being left open allowing the stomach contents back into the oesophagus. This stomach content still contains the acidic fluid which causes an uncomfortable burning (aka heart burn) feeling in the chest. This is know as reflux, and many people will experience some reflux over their lifetime. When this becomes excessive, starts interfering with a persons life, or leads to complications, it is termed GORD.
Aside from the reflux and heartburn sensations commonly associated with GORD, people may also experience excessive burping, stomach pain and pressure, reflux contents in the mouth and throat pain, particularly when swallowing. While GORD may be merely an inconvenience for some, for others it can have a debilitating impact on their lives.
People experiencing frequent episodes of reflux are at risk of developing Barrett's Oesophagus. This is a condition resulting from prolonged, severe GORD which causes the cells in the oesophagus to change in response to the continued attack by the acidic stomach contents. While this may seem harmless, it increases the risk of developing oesophageal cancer significantly.
So, how can we manage GORD? Firstly, talk to your doctor if you think you might be suffering from GORD, as you may need medication. However, here are some other tips that you may find useful:
Eat smaller meals, so that there is less in your stomach, and less pressure on the oesophagus
Avoid overfilling the stomach by separating foods and drinks, keeping your fluid intake to outside 20 mins either side of meals
Limit intake of alcohol, fatty foods, and irritants like caffeine, chilli, onion or garlic. You may find that only some foods trigger an episode of reflux, so try to look for patterns between the types of foods you eat and when the reflux occurs. A food and symptom diary are useful for this
Smoking can aggravate the condition, so try to stop if you do smoke
Being over weight increases the pressure on the stomach, so losing weight if you are overweight can help to manage the condition
If you find you experience a lot of symptoms when lying in bed (especially overnight), elevate your head with extra pillows to keep the stomach contents down or wait 2-3 hours after eating before lying down
Eat a healthy diet, you can find more information here.
If you would like support identifying your individual trigger foods, please contact us!
If you would like to know more, please contact us at Habits for Health - https://www.habitsforhealthnutrition.com/contactus
Have a delicious day!