Last week I fielded a question on my Facebook page about gastroesphageal reflux (aka GERD) and if there was a connection related to type 1 diabetes. Great questions but first off, what is GERD? Well, in a nutshell, acid reflux occurs when the stomach contents reflux or back up into the esophagus and/or mouth. I’m sure we’ve all experienced it at some point in our lives. That burning sensation in the middle of our chest or perhaps that sour taste in our mouth after eating certain meals that just don’t agree with us. Reflux is a normal process and fortunately most episodes are brief and do not cause bothersome symptoms or complications, but what can we do to avoid those awful flair ups? Lets take a closer look!
Severe GERD Symptoms:
The symptoms of GERD may include persistent heartburn, acid regurgitation, and nausea. Some people have GERD without heartburn. Instead, they experience pain in the chest that can be sever enough to mimic the pain of a heart attack, hoarseness in the morning, or trouble swallowing. Some people may also feel like they have food stuck in their throat or like they are choking. GERD can also cause a dry cough and bad breath.
Avoiding GERD Flair Ups:
According to Joslin Diabetes Center, there are a handful of foods that you may want to limit or avoid all together to limit flair ups:
- Fatty Foods
- Spicy Foods
Joslin also recommends that people living with GERD should try their best not to eat three hours prior to bedtime. This may be difficult when living with diabetes if you typically need a snack to hold your blood sugar overnight.
Adjusting your diabetes medication with your healthcare practitioner may help to decrease low blood sugar and the amount of foods you need to consume prior to bed. If you do need a snack, make it appoint to avoid those particular foods that can cause flair ups.
GERD And Dietary Changes:
Caffeinated beverages — such as coffee and tea — may not cause problems when consumed in moderation, such as a cup or two a day, but carbonated beverages can increase acidity as well as pressure in the stomach, making it easier for stomach acid to push through the lower esophagus and right up into the esophagus.
The most problematic fatty foods include high-fat dairy products (which can cause an acidic environment in the body) such as ice cream, as well as fatty cuts of meat such as beef, pork, and other meats, also, chocolate may be one of the worst foods for people with GERD because it contains high levels of fat, as well as caffeine and other natural chemicals that may cause reflux.
Different people tend to have different reactions to paticular foods that they consume, so make it appoint to pay attention to your diet, and if a certain food or a beverage gives you heartburn, consider avoiding it.
GERD Eating Habits:
In addition to changing what you eat, your doctor may ask you to change the way you eat. I always recommend avoiding processed foods as they provide zero health benefits and contain high amounts of sodium, fillers and who knows what else. Raw, organic, whole foods are always a better choice and a great starting point if your looking to change your overall health.
Common recommendations include:
- Eating smaller and more frequent meals
- Eating more slowly
- Limiting snacking between meals
- Not lying down within two to three hours of eating
When your stomach is full, eating more can increase stomach pressure, in turn causing your lower esophagus to relax, allowing stomach contents to flow up into the esophagus.
When you stand up, gravity helps keep your stomach’s contents from flowing upward and when you lie down, it’s easier for them to enter your esophagus.
By waiting two to three hours after eating before lying down, you can harness gravity to help manage your GERD and hopefully avoid the symptoms associated with GERD.
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