Anyone who has ever suffered from heartburn or acid reflux knows all too
well the discomfort and burning sensation in their chest after eating too much
or the wrong kinds of foods.
Following a heartburn diet -- one that typically eliminates alcohol,
caffeine, and spicy foods -- is usually the first line of defense. Not smoking,
sleeping with an extra pillow, medications, loose fitting clothes, and not
overeating are other measures that can reduce symptoms.
Three out of every 10 people experience heartburn on occasion, so it can be somewhat arbitrary to decide when heartburn should be called acid reflux disease.
Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux disease is a chronic irritation of the lining of a person's esophagus by stomach acid. Usually, it's just annoying. GERD can, however, have serious consequences, including esophagitis and Barrett's esophagus. Barrett's esophagus is a condition that increases the likelihood of...
But experts say losing weight can also help, especially if you are
The Link Between Weight and Heartburn
Studies have shown that adults (both men and women) who gain a few extra
pounds can increase their risk of heartburn – but losing weight can spell
How does excess body fat increase the risk of heartburn? The exact mechanism
is not well known, but researchers surmise that extra fat around the belly
increases the pressure on the stomach, forcing fluid up into the esophagus.
Added pressure impacts the sphincter between the stomach and the esophagus,
causing it to relax and allow acidic stomach contents into the esophagus. Extra
weight can also impair the body’s ability to empty the stomach quickly.
Overeating, even among thin people, can also increase pressure on the stomach
and sphincter, as can pregnancy.
Researchers who analyzed 10,000 women in the Nurse’s Health Study found that
weight gain of 10 to 20 pounds was associated with a threefold increase in
heartburn symptoms. And when overweight people become obese, it further
heightens their risk for developing gastroesophageal reflux disease or
GERD. Obese people are nearly three times more likely than normal weight
people to have heartburn.
But losing weight can reduce a woman’s risk of heartburn by as much as 40%,
according to the Nurse’s Health Study.
How to Choose a Weight Loss Plan for Heartburn
Choose a heart-smart diet controlled in calories that you can stick
with. A heart-healthy diet is also heartburn healthy.
It doesn’t really matter if the diet is high in fat, high in carbs, or low
in protein, according to a study in The New England Journal of
Medicine. Researcher Frank Sacks, MD, a professor at the Harvard
School of Public Health, found little difference in weight loss when he
compared four different diet plans that all varied in nutrient composition.