Coping with GERD and Its Symptoms

Coping with GERD and Its Symptoms

Statistics show that “more than 60 million American adults experience heartburn at least once a month, and more than 15 million adults suffer daily from heartburn.”1  

This month is GERD awareness month, and while it isn’t a fancy name for heartburn, heartburn is a major symptom of this disease. We’d like to explain what it is and share some ways to help treat and prevent its symptoms.

What is GERD?

Fresh mint leaves
Cup of coffee

GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, is a digestive disorder that causes the contents of your stomach to move back into your esophagus.1

If you are familiar with acid reflux, another way to understand GERD is that it is a more severe and recurring form of acid reflux.  

The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn. With acid reflux, the heartburn may be brought on by certain foods or beverages. With GERD, the triggers are similar, but you may experience heartburn 2 or more times a week!2  

Some GERD triggers include: 

  • Chocolate 
  • Peppermint
  • Fried or fatty foods (this includes cheese and avocado) 
  • Coffee 
  • Alcoholic beverages 
  • Citrus fruits and juices 
  • Tomato products 
  • Peppers 

According to the Mayo clinic, additional symptoms, aside from heartburn, include “regurgitation of food or sour liquid [vomiting], difficulty swallowing, coughing, wheezing, and chest pain — especially while lying down at night.”2 

Grapefruit
Red peppers

Who Can Get It?

Anyone can develop GERD or experience varying degrees of its symptoms. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains that you are more likely to experience GERD if: 

  • You are overweight, obese, or pregnant: This is because the extra pressure on your abdomen can cause the muscle that separates your esophagus from your stomach to relax or weaken. 
  • You take certain medications like: 
    • Asthma medication 
    • Calcium channel blockers 
    • Antihistamines 
    • Painkillers 
    • Sedatives 
    • Antidepressants 
  • You are a smoker, or you are exposed to secondhand smoke

Natural Remedies

Glass of Water with spoon of baking soda
Girl blowing bubble gum balloon

The Fisher-Titus Healthy Living Team, of the Fisher-Titus Medical Center, composed this list of 7 natural home remedies for GERD. You can view the full details about each remedy on their website here 

  1. Baking Soda: 1 tsp with 8 ounces of water to neutralize stomach acid 
  2. Chewing Gum: Chew sugar-free gum 30 minutes after eating 
  3. Don’t Lie Down After Eating: Eat 3-4 hours before you lie down 
  4. Eat Low or No-Acid Fruits: Fully ripened Bananas, Apples, Honeydew, Cantaloupe, and Watermelon 
  5. Ginger Tea: Consume before meals to prevent symptoms 
  6. Mustard: 1 tablespoon of mustard to ease symptoms 
  7. Chamomile Tea: 1 cup 30 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime 
Assortment of Low Acid Fruits
Cup of Chamomile Tea

Lifestyle Changes Can Help 

In addition to avoiding certain foods and beverages, lifestyle changes can help you mitigate the symptoms and avoid flareups.  

The Mayo Clinic suggests that affected individuals try: 

  • Losing excess weight 
  • Eating smaller meals 
  • Raising the head of the bed 
  • Avoiding tobacco 
  • Not wearing tight fitting clothes around the abdomen 

 Is There a Treatment for GERD? 

Many doctors will prescribe nutrition and lifestyle changes to treat GERD and that’s oftentimes enough for milder cases. Over-the-counter antacids are also commonly recommended.  

For more severe cases, doctors may go a step further and recommend prescription medications to help manage symptoms, order an endoscopy to look for irritation or inflammation in the esophageal tissue, or they may order an upper gastrointestinal x-ray to rule out other potential conditions.1  

If you have any concerns about your gastroesophageal health, talk to your doctor to get personalized information and the most accurate course of action for your unique situation.  

For our registered dietitian’s insights on spicy foods and what they do to your insides, check out her answer to this reader’s question on Hot Peppers! Or, take a look at her answer to this question on Inflammatory Foods and their effects on your GI tract. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Sources:

  1. “GERD: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Remedies for Relief.” Edited by Minesh Khatri MD, WebMD, 2019, www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/guide/reflux-disease-gerd-1#1.

     

  2. Kashyap, Purna. “Acid Reflux and GERD: The Same Thing?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 31 July 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heartburn/expert-answers/heartburn-gerd/faq-20057894. 

Nutrition for Slow Weight Loss | QA

Nutrition for Slow Weight Loss | QA

Question:

I have been a member at the LA Fitness in Dunedin, Florida for 5 months. I have had very slow progress in losing weight. I am down from 207 lbs. to 194 lbs.; my body fat has remained at about 133 lbs. I eat oatmeal for breakfast, have a whey drink in the middle of the morning, chicken or the like at lunch with green beans and no bread, and yogurt for dinner. Help. I am 5 ft 4 inches tall and work out every other day with a trainer then do 25 mins on a stationary bike at level 8. Do you have a menu to help me lose the pounds?

– Adam F.

Answer:

There are plenty of menus to be found on sites like Men’s Journal, Men’s Health, and FitBit, or you can attempt to create your own. Rather than following a preset menu that has nothing to do with you, consider outlining a meal plan with guidelines for you to follow. You’re better assured to stick by parameters that you identify as being relevant to your dietary habits. See other members’ success stories under the Motivation tab of the Living Healthy blog and check out how one man overcame diet plan indecision here 

My feedback on your described diet thus far is that there is very little detail or diversity and unknown portions. Remember that your body thrives on feeding it adequate nutrition including vitamins, mineral and water, not just macronutrient calories.

Why not try switching it up a bit and have egg-avocado-whole grain toast for breakfast, plain nonfat Greek or Skyr yogurt with fresh fruit for snack, tuna salad and greens for lunch, then stir fried vegetables with mukimame (soybeans) for dinner one day? 

Keep up the consistent exercise, Adam! You’re making progress and your body adapts so remember to continually push yourself by increasing the time, intensity or duration of your workouts. 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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How to Add Exercise to Your Busy Lifestyle

How to Add Exercise to Your Busy Lifestyle

Making time to exercise can be a balancing act… work, kids, after school activities, family & friend obligations, just to name a few.

The most common excuse for not exercising: “No time,” says clinical psychologist Lavinia Rodriguez.1

How to make time for exercise

How do you make the time for exercise when you have no time?

Morning Workout. Fitness experts will suggest a morning workout. Why? Because life gets crazier as the day goes on. By getting in a workout first thing in the morning, you have time for other day-to-day stuff without having to think about when you are going to fit in a workout.

Find a Friend. Grab, drag, or bribe a friend to come with you. Having your best bud or accountability partner come with you can make workouts so much fun! Keep one another accountable, set goals, or create challenges with one another. Having someone to go with you means you are less likely to make excuses not to go to the gym.

Write it down. Create a schedule for yourself. Take time on Sunday evening before you go to bed and write down your schedule for the week. Then find pockets of time where you can go to the gym and commit to your schedule. Once you’ve committed to your schedule, it’s less likely that you are going to break it and less likely to make excuses.

Set small goals. Small goals can be BIG wins! Start with working out one or two days per week. These small goals will turn into a routine and eventually become a habit.

Decide. You must decide that you are going to make time for exercise. Make the decision and follow through with it. There will be days when you don’t want to go to the gym, that’s when you need to prove your willpower.

Set your alarm. Set your alarm so you don’t forget. If you set your alarm for the morning, it’s not always easy waking up early. Challenge yourself not to hit snooze. Put your feet on the ground, get vertical, and start walking around. If you set your alarm for the afternoon, you may be hurting for time, but everyone needs to take a break. What you will soon realize is that working out helps improve productivity. So, hit the gym!

Don’t stress. Bottom line, any exercise is better than no exercise. Do what you can, when you can. Don’t stress out or put pressure on yourself because you didn’t make it to the gym.

For even more tips on how to add exercise to your schedule, check out these Workout Strategies for a Busy Lifestyle, or, read up on . For all our blog posts, and to get notified when we upload something new, subscribe today!

SOURCES

  1. Lavinia Rodriguez, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of Mind Over Fat Matters: Conquering Psychological Barriers to Weight Management (iUniverse, 2008).

 

Losing Weight When You Love Bread and Cheese | QA

Losing Weight When You Love Bread and Cheese | QA

Question:

I really want to lose stomach fat and thigh fat, but I also really love food which is a problem. What tasty foods can I have but still lose the fat? I don’t do very well with an only fruits and veggies diet; can I have pasta? Maybe rice? Bread? Cheese? Thanks! 

– Abigail C.

Answer:

Once upon a time there was a potato chip whose fat couldn’t be digested. Hurray for the crisp lovers! Unfortunately, people experienced digestive issues and such products went by the wayside. Common sense prevailed that fried snacks need to be limited not re-engineered. I share the story because you seem to want “tasty” foods that aren’t fattening. That depends on what your taste buds are, of course! 

I agree a traditional salad won’t do. To me, colorful plates of mixed textures and strong/mild flavors hit the spot. Enjoying your food healthily means incorporating favorite items in a portion-controlled way. Pasta or rice should comprise only a quarter of your plate.

For bread and cheese, focus on whole grain breads (two ounces per meal) and stronger flavor cheeses (an ounce maximum). So foot long subs, mac n’ cheese and lasagna are out. Pear with blue cheese crumbles, an English muffin pizza and chicken + mushroom wild rice soup are in.  

You can achieve successful weight loss on an infinite number of diets that include or exclude one particular type of food. Don’t like broccoli? Then opt for zucchini or other green vegetables. Beef lover? Stick to 3-4 ounce servings of sirloin and tenderloin. Grossed out by the texture of cottage cheese? Substitute Greek yogurt or diced tofu. The keys are: 1) wholesome naturally low-calorie foods (like plants) should make up the majority of your diet; 2) no matter which foods you choose to eat, most should be raw, freshly grilled, steamed or baked and little of it fried (in real oil, please). 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Recommended Reading - Q+A

Member Spotlight | The Value of Personal Training

Member Spotlight | The Value of Personal Training

“Throughout our sessions [my trainer] was able to tailor specific routines for me and quickly adjust as required for my preferences and accommodate for chronic injuries.”

Martyn D.

LAF Member, LA Fitness

An Unexpected Turning Point 

Martyn D. is an LA Fitness member who changed his lifestyle when he least expected. With a busy work schedule and a long-standing shoulder injury, Martyn found himself “in a slump, with little to no change in [his] routines and inspiration.” 

One day, he won a few free training sessions at LA Fitness and was hooked ever since. “I enjoyed them so much I decided to continue for the 6-month program,” Martyn says. 

If you’re hesitant to start a workout routine due to an injury, or if you’re in an emotional funk, Martyn’s story is the perfect example to showcase how proper guidance from a qualified instructor can help you move towards your goals.

Personal Training Made a Big Difference 

The key to personal training is the fact that it is customized for you. It’s not just about having someone tell you what to do.  

Martyn appreciated that his trainer, Patrick, “was approachable and easy to talk to” and that he took the time to really flesh out his personal fitness goals. 

“Throughout our sessions he was able to tailor specific routines for me and quickly adjust as required for my preferences and accommodate for chronic injuries,” explains Martyn, “he was also flexible with my schedule when I had limited time with work.” 

Overcoming Injuries 

Injuries can pose a myriad of obstacles when it comes to working out. Some people will advise you to use the muscles lightly, others will advise you to avoid all activities that may strain the muscles further.  

One advantage of having a qualified trainer is in your access to their knowledgebase on muscle recovery and on proper form. Martyn shares that despite a shoulder injury that had been bothering him for years, Patrick “has been able to significantly help by strengthening weak areas and improving [his] form, both of which allow [him] to lift more.” 

What’s Next for Martyn? 

“Exercising has always been a stress outlet for me with a sense of accomplishment afterwards” says Martyn. However, the added improvement really boosts those feelings. Call me a glutton for punishment but I plan on staying active for as long as I can. I still browse online videos for different exercises to try out but having a knowledgeable pro on hand is invaluable. Plus, he would not let me slackoff, which I appreciate afterwards. 

Closing Thoughts 

Having the help of a personal trainer can make a world of difference. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete who is looking for new ways to test your abilities, or just starting out, some knowledgeable guidance can go a long way. Martyn is living proof that personalized training, paired with a commitment to your goals, can produce real changes that you can be proud of. 

Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at blog@lafitness.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post! 


 

For length and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided.

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