The start of the new year is always an exciting time where new resolutions are put into place for the upcoming year. For many people, resolutions are about taking better care of your health and wellness – a push to start adding small bouts of daily physical activity or incorporating more fruits and vegetables into their diet. But, for those who constantly struggle with heartburn and acid reflux, both extremely common symptoms of GERD, the promise of a “new year, new me” can seem difficult to obtain. You might be wondering, what exactly is GERD? GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, a digestive disorder that causes stomach acid to frequently go back into the tube that connects your mouth and stomach, therefore irritating the lining of your stomach. Symptoms include heart burn, chest pain, acid reflux, difficulty swallowing or a sore throat. If this sounds like something you may be suffering from, read on to see how you can combat the fight against GERD.

Avoid eating trigger foods 

People usually find their GERD is triggered by eating certain types of foods. Avoid specific foods that are high in acid (like citrus fruits or tomato-based pasta sauces), high fat foods (such as deep-fried food or red meat), and spicy foods that contain spices or chilli. In other instances, there are also foods that can help GERD. Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, leafy greens and cucumbers are known to help reduce stomach acid.

Be careful with your weight

Increased weight gain can affect your muscle structure, especially the muscles that support your lower esophageal sphincter. Incorporating in daily physical activity and more vegetables, fruits and whole grains into your diet are great ways to start managing your weight. Make sure you consult your doctor first to see if it’s advised if you need to lose weight. 

Quit or avoid smoking 

It’s a known fact that smoking is bad for you, but studies have shown that smoking and GERD have been closely linked together as it can increase the amount of stomach acid that your body produces. It’s also linked to Barrett’s esophagus (when your normal esophageal cells are replaced with abnormal, harmful cells) and throat cancer.

Try a safe and Health Canada approved treatment option

A form of relief could be incorporating an antacid such as Gaviscon or Tums. As well, another form of relief could be a new, Health Canada approved oral therapy called EsopH which is proven to relieve symptoms of GERD by shielding the esophagus to promote cell regeneration, inflammation reduction and wound repair. It does not contain ranitidine, the oral drug that was recalled last year. Zantac and its generic version called ranitidine was used by many to help decrease the production of stomach acid. In October 2019, the popular heart burn medication was recalled after a discovery of low-level cancer-causing chemicals being present. Consult with a physician or a doctor first before starting a new medication.

More than five million Canadians experience symptoms of GERD on a weekly basis and up to 40%, the majority being baby boomers and Gen X are unresponsive to the current standard of care. Living with a chronic condition like GERD is anything but easy, but there’s a lot that can be done to start taking care of yourself in the new year to reduce those unwanted symptoms without having to miss out on life – and live – pain free.