Click to hear KMZU’s Sandi Wilson talk with Nutrition and Health Education Specialist Tammy Roberts about Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Tammy Roberts1

Tammy Roberts tells us what kind of foods to avoid to help prevent symptoms of GERD.

Tammy Roberts2

Health Education Specialist Tammy Roberts recommends taking steps to alleviate your symptoms before resorting to medication.
Tammy Roberts3

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease also known as GERD or Acid Reflux is affecting more babies and small children in today’s society than in earlier years. It is a common ailment among adults. Certain foods are contributing factors to the symptoms of GERD. These foods include fatty foods, chocolate, peppermint, coffee, colas and alcohol. Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Tammy Roberts says we are a more overweight society now than we used to be and being overweight puts pressure on the stomach which can cause acid to back up in the esophagus. People who experience acid reflux are also advised to not smoke. If gastroesophageal reflux disease goes on untreated it can lead to ulcers in the esophagus which could require surgery. Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding foods and beverages which can cause acid reflux are the recommended first steps to take before resorting to medications.

News Release From University of Missouri Extension

(BLUE SPRINGS, MO – April 21, 2014) Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD is a condition in which food or liquid contents of the stomach back up into the food pipe or esophagus. This can inflame or damage the lining of the esophagus. It is a common ailment among adults in which the first symptom is often heartburn.  
At the lower end of the esophagus is a muscle that opens and closes to let food through. This muscle is called the lower esophageal sphincter or LES. It is also sometimes called the cardiac sphincter. If this muscle is weakened in some way or if the stomach is full or under increased pressure, the muscle relaxes when it isn’t supposed to and stomach contents back up (reflux) into the esophagus.
There are symptoms of GERD other than heartburn. You may experience chest pain especially at night when you are lying down, have difficulty swallowing, experience regurgitation of food or sour liquid, or have coughing, wheezing, hoarseness or sore throat. It is possible to have a feeling like you have something stuck in your throat.
There are things that can be done to help relieve symptoms. There are foods that actually act to relax the lower esophageal sphincter allowing stomach contents to seep back up. “ Avoid fatty foods, chocolate, peppermint, coffee, tealist from University of Missouri Extension. Smoking also relaxes the LES and should be avoided. Since a full stomach can put pressure on the LES, it can help to eat smaller meals more often. “Maintain a healthy weight to reduce the risk of pressure on the abdominal area that extra weight can cause” said Tammy.

When someone is lying down, it is easier for reflux to occur. To prevent that, be sure to eat your last meal at least three hours before going to bed and avoid bedtime snacks. It also helps to raise the head of your bed by six inches to allow gravity to help keep stomach contents where they belong.
GERD is a condition that can be managed but it is also important to know that there can be complications. Be sure to discuss symptoms with your doctor.
For more information, contact specialist’s name, number, e-mail or visit your local Extension Center or