Losing Weight and Acid Reflux

At the entrance to your stomach is a valve, which is a ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Normally, the LES closes as soon as food passes through it. If the LES doesn’t close all the way or if it opens too often, acid produced by your stomach can move up into your esophagus. This can cause symptoms such as a burning chest pain called heartburn. If acid reflux symptoms happen more than twice a week, you have acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Being overweight increases pressure around the abdomen, which is more likely to cause reflux, explains a gastroenterologist.

Women who had gained the most weight over the previous 14 years were more than twice as likely to report heartburn as those whose weight remained stable. And women who had lost the most weight reported a 40 percent drop in symptoms.

When 124 overweight or obese adults with GERD lost an average of 29 pounds by cutting calories and exercising for six months, 65 percent of them said that they no longer had any symptoms and 15 percent reported fewer symptoms.

Of all the lifestyle changes to relieve reflux, weight loss has the strongest evidence.

If people have nighttime symptoms, it is recommend that they put a ‘bed wedge’ that’s six to eight inches high under their pillow. In a small trial on 20 people, that exposed the esophagus to less acid.

Some doctors also advise reflux patients to avoid eating two to three hours before bedtime. However, there’s no good evidence that that helps.

For example, when 20 people with reflux ate a 1,000-calorie meal (a hamburger, french fries, and soda) at 9 p.m., they had no more reflux episodes and no longer reflux episodes than when they ate the same meal at 7 p.m. on a different night.

Nor is there evidence that avoiding high-fat meals late at night helps, but we know that high fat delays gastric emptying, which can lead to GERD.

Resource: Nutrition Action

Michelle’s ability to wear many hats has made her a valuable asset to the Y.E.S. Fitness team.

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