Around seven million Brits are believed to suffer from acid reflux. We most commonly think of it in terms of heartburn – that nasty, burning sensation in the stomach, oesophagus (gullet) and sometimes back of the throat, often accompanied by a horrible taste in the mouth, which can be painful and distressing.
Many of us will experience a bit of acid reflux from time to time. Some people can be more prone to it though, and it can become an ongoing problem. It’s important to pay your GP a visit if you’ve been experiencing acid reflux symptoms for a couple of weeks or more, so they can keep an eye on it and investigate further if necessary.
Certain things are known to be common triggers for the problem, such as heavy, rich meals and eating too fast. “Acid reflux can be caused by our eating habits; eating too much or eating too much of certain types of foods, especially fatty foods, and ‘treating’ ourselves more often. The stomach takes longer to get rid of stomach acid after digesting a fatty meal, which can result in excess acid. This can then leak up into the oesophagus and cause discomfort,” explains Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist.
“Consuming more alcohol, coffee or chocolate can relax the muscles at the bottom of the oesophagus, which can then lead to a burning sensation.”
But what can you do to avoid suffering from acid reflux?
In his book, Dr Aviv outlines a two-part plan to help combat acid reflux, along the way identifying a list of things to avoid – including chocolate. It contains methylxanthine, he notes, which increases stomach acid production.
Rapeseed and sesame oil, etc, might be on trend right now, but Dr Aviv notes that while they have a borderline pH, often they’re essentially acidic due to chemicals involved in the extraction process. Switch to extra virgin olive oil instead.
They may be a go-to exercise for toning and honing those abs, but if you’re prone to acid reflux, doing sit-ups can encourage gastric acid to flow upwards, resulting in symptoms, points out Dr Aviv.