GERD Life Styling
Lifestyle modifications are the first line of treatment for GERD sufferers. Remember the old President Bill Clinton, back in the days when he was a hefty president? He had the classic “refluxogenic” profile: at least occasionally overweight, drawn to fatty foods, continually forced to the table at steak-in-heavy-cream-sauce state dinners and cuckoo for jogging, a bouncing exercise which tends to make stomach contents slop out the top of their container?
Obesity is a major factor in GERD, and weight loss is one of the best things you can do for the problem. Larry the Cable Guy hawking as spokesman for Prilosec could help a lot of other obese people, of course, but if he would just drop a ton, maybe he wouldn’t need Prilosec, as well as avoiding possible future necessities of taking insulin for diabetes and other drugs for other problems. On the other hand, as an old fat boy who struggles with weight loss myself, I know how irrelevant such pontificating is when you need help now. I’m just saying. The docs are saying. Lifestyle changes.
Other alleviatives: Don’t cinch in your belt or suck in your gut for appearance purposes, because you’re smashing your guts up into your throat. Wear loose-fitting garments. Don’t exercise within 1 ½ hours after a meal. Bend at the knees, not at the waist. Don’t go to bed within three hours after a meal. Sleep with the upper half of your body elevated. Or chew gun, a highly-recommended practice because it stimulates the flow of saliva. Your own spit, bicarbonate-rich, is nature’s best antacid. And when you’re chewing gum, of course, you’re not eating.
Fats, oils, spices: bad news. Breath mints, oddly, can make your breath worse, because mint oil relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, bringing gorge into the back of your mouth. Alcohol relaxes the sphincter too, as does tobacco, especially in cigarettes. Citrus fruits? A negative effect. Tomato paste? Bad. Does that mean you can’t have any of this stuff? No, just that you should be aware of their effects, use them with discretion and consideration for the time of day or night. And what would this litany of puritanical extremes, taken to the extreme, leave you for dining options? Some bland gray carbohydrate/protein/vitamin paste cooked up by NASA?
The bright side is that if you’re in such extreme need of lifestyle modification that you have to take all this stuff dead seriously, then you’re probably ready for serious anti-GERD medications anyway. And if that’s so, maybe you can back off on the self-deprivation? Ask your doc about that one.
My myself, my days of foolish indulgence are over, those big meals and late-night orgies of eating like a pig to sleep like a python. Heartburn has taken away my bedtime binges of a bag of Pecan Sandies and a gallon of milk, but learning to cope with it has struck a blow for my general health in the process.
And having come to terms with heartburn, or my heartburn anyway, I’ll eat a little pizza for supper if I want to, and by golly I’ll have that late-night glass of wine without fear or shame. For sheer, rawboned adventure, we yuppies have few peers.