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What Increases My Risk for GERD?

What Increases My Risk for GERD?

Find out what unhealthy eating habits up your risk of acid reflux.

No food after midnight! That was one of the “rules” for avoiding trouble that down-and-out Rand (Hoyt Axton) was given when he bought an extraterrestrial fuzz-ball named Gizmo (voiced by Howie Mandel) in the 1984 comedy-horror film, Gremlins. Unfortunately, the rule was broken and the result was an onslaught of ravenous, destructive creatures that turned his family’s Christmas into a nightmare.

For a lot of folks, violating the “no late meals” rule also triggers nightmares . . . of the digestive kind. Roughly 20 percent of Americans contend with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also called acid reflux. It’s caused by a weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter muscle. Instead of closing after you swallow food or liquid, it flaps open, allowing stomach acid to flow upwards, causing burning and pain along the esophagus.

What brings on this distress? According to a study that looked at 513 GERD sufferers, eating a big dinner in the evening, or only eating once or twice a day, was a major cause; so was drinking peppermint tea daily (who knew?!) and eating fatty, fried, spicy, sweet and sour foods. The researchers suggest eating more than three times daily. Dr. Mike’s What to Eat When recommends you enjoy your largest meal at breakfast or noontime, and stick with plant-based, unprocessed foods and lean proteins. That’ll help keep the gremlin GERD out of your house!

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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