This year, The World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) is running a campaign: ‘Heartburn: A Global Perspective’ for World Digestive Health Day in order to raise awareness of heartburn and translate scientific research into dietary and lifestyle advice for sufferers.
Heartburn is a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) a highly prevalent disease which occurs when the ring of muscle at the end of the oesophagus (lower oesophageal sphincter) fails to close and enables acid to leak up from the stomach (acid reflux).
At Love Your Gut we thought we would put together some handy diet and lifestyle advice for heartburn sufferers.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Research has found a link between obesity and GERD, showing that those who are overweight are at an increased risk of experiencing heartburn. Increased weight is linked to a lower oesophageal sphincter pressure which results in increased acid exposure. Enjoy a balanced diet with regular exercise to help maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat little and often. Avoid eating large meals as this can prevent the lower oesophageal sphincter from closing. Eating smaller meals more frequently can help lower acid reflux experienced at mealtimes. Try to eat your evening meal at least three hours before bedtime.
- Avoid irritant food and drink. Avoid consuming food and drink such as coffee, alcohol, chocolate, and peppermint. These types of foods can relax the lower oesophageal sphincter, preventing it from closing. Highly acidic foods such as tomato sauces and spicy foods can also irritate symptoms further. Following a low fat diet is also advised, particularly as the digestion of fatty foods (which sit in the stomach for longer than other foods) increases acid production in the stomach.
- Stop smoking. Giving up smoking can help if you suffer with heartburn. Smoking irritates the digestive system making heartburn worse.
For more information on Word Digestive Health Day visit the World Gastroenterology Organisation website: http://www.wgofoundation.org/wdhd-2015.html