For those unfamiliar with the funny-sounding health condition called GERD, which stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, it is no laughing matter at all. In the US, 20 percent of the population suffers from GERD. And among those with high body weights, the severity of GERD is even worse.
GERD is characterized by chronic damage to the esophagus, or food pipe, caused when stomach acid reverses its flow during the digestion process. It’s not uncommon for most people to feel this kind of reflux from time to time, usually after a rich or spicy meal. But if it occurs two or more times per week and disrupts daily life’s activities, it is very likely GERD.
So what does this have to do with body weight? Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has discovered that GERD may actually have its roots in inflammation of the food pipe and not solely by the backup of stomach acid. This is important because we know that higher body weight, and specifically higher body fat percentage, is a major driver of chronic inflammation. And chronic inflammation leads to all sorts of debilitating conditions, of which GERD is just one.
If you suffer from GERD or acid reflux, there are many things you can do to alleviate symptoms, such as avoiding things like chocolate, caffeine, or alcohol, wearing loose-fitting clothing, taking prescription medication or sleeping with your head and neck propped up on pillows. But absolutely one of the most effective ways to minimize GERD symptoms is to lose weight. By shedding the pounds and the fat, you will be reducing the body’s need to trigger the inflammatory response. And with reduced chronic inflammation, your body has more freedom to move without pain.
If you’re concerned you may have GERD, talk to a doctor or medical provider who can not only prescribe medication that may help, but who also knows how to help you lose weight safely and for the long term. After all, you should be spending less time dealing with chronic pain and more time laughing, which is the best medicine of all.