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Have you changed your diet and are now eating foods that lower your chances of experiencing acid reflux, but are finding little to no improvement in your acid reflux symptoms after you eat? If so, the problem may not be the food you are eating; it could be your actual eating habits and/or be related to stress.
The food you eat isn’t the only culprit of acid reflux. There are other factors that could lead to fluctuations in acid reflux symptoms including:
The way you eat – When you eat your meals, do you…
- Eat small portions?
- Eat slowly?
- Sit down with a straight posture?
If you have answered “No” to any of these questions, then the way you are eating your meals could be one of the reasons why you are still experiencing symptoms. Therefore, you need to begin eating smaller and more frequent meals instead of eating three large meals per day. Smaller amount of food decreases the acid your stomach needs to secrete to handle digestion, which decreases the chance of excess acid being refluxed into the esophagus.
In addition, by slowly eating and sitting down with a straight posture, you help remove stress from your lower esophageal sphincter (LES ), which can occur if you are eating hunched over, while moving, or eating too quickly.
Your actions directly after eating – After you eat do you do any of the following…
- Lie down or go to bed?
- Engage in vigorous activities including bending?
These activities slow down the digestion process which increases your chances of acid reflux, as well as other digestive problems including constipation. The problem with slow digestion is it can cause delayed gastric emptying. In other words, the food stays in the stomach too long before it is released into the small intestine. Thus, there is a greater risk that the contents in the stomach will be pushed back up into the esophagus and result in heartburn.
It takes several hours for your food to digest, but the first hour or two after you eat is a crucial part of the process, because the food is still in your stomach. While food remains in your stomach, there is a greater chance of acid reflux occurring. That is why you should eat/drink at least 3 hours before going to bed, and why you should not lie down directly after you eat.
In addition, when you exercise (I.E. aerobics, vigorous walking, swimming, sit-ups, etc.), or excessively bend or move around directly after eating, you not only place stress on your LES , you are also slowing down the digestive process because you are taking blood (energy) away from your digestive tract, which is required to properly digest the food you’ve eaten.
What you wear – Believe it or not, but your favorite corset that helps slim your figure, or the tight belt that you wear for fashion or to help keep your pants secure, maybe causing you acid reflux symptoms. Wearing tight garments, especially when you are eating, places a lot of pressure on you LES , encouraging acid reflux. Therefore, loosen your belt, undo the button of your pants, and remove that garter belt or corset before sitting down to your next meal. You will notice a difference in the way you feel during and after you eat.
Your level of stress – everyone needs a little stress in their life to help keep them motivated so they can get necessary tasks done. However, when it comes to stress there is a happy medium. Too much stress can have a negative effect on both your physical and mental wellbeing. In fact, stress can lead to acid reflux by:
- Slowing down digestion. When you are stressed your body responds to it by sending more blood to the muscles to help combat stress, taking energy needed for digestion.
- Embracing bad habits. When stressed it is common for a person to eat salty, sweet and fatty foods, drink more alcohol, smoke more, or engage in other habits that increase the risk of acid reflux.
If you find that you are stressed, you need to apply stress management tactics (I.E. relax, vent to a friend, engage in an activity you enjoy, etc.) to combat stress. If you do not find ways to release bottled up stress, it will find other ways to release itself, such as through acid reflux.
By sticking to your anti-acid reflux diet, changing the way you eat, and by applying some stress management tactics to your lifestyle, you’ll experience acid reflux symptoms less frequently or prevent them altogether.
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