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NEW YORK — The childhood admonition to refrain from swimming for an hour after eating, ostensibly to avoid cramp, is not nearly long enough for me anymore.rr
I now have to wait at least two hours before attempting any vigorous activity, or chores that involve bending over, to avoid the miserable sensation of acid reflux, commonly recognised by its frequent symptom of heartburn.rr
I’ve also found that a favorite breakfast food — peanut butter — is especially troublesome, along with smoked fish, pickled herring or brewed coffee on an empty stomach.rr
HOW COMMON IS ACID REFLUX?rr
Acid reflux is among the most frequent health complaints of American adults and may have become even more common in the wake of pandemic-related stress and weight gain. Late last year, pharmacies reported an unprecedented run on antacids by people described as having a “pandemic stomach”, leaving those with serious ailments that required such products often out of luck.rr
Even before the pandemic, an online survey from 2019 of more than 71,000 adults found that nearly one-third reported that they were affected at least weekly by the discomforting symptoms of acid reflux, in which a small amount of stomach contents reverses course and backs up into the esophagus.rr
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ACID REFLUX?rr
Common symptoms include a burning feeling in the chest, a sensation of a lump in the throat, belching and bloating, and regurgitation into the mouth of highly acidic, partially digested food from the stomach. Reflux can also affect the respiratory tract, resulting in hoarseness, wheezing, postnasal drip, cough or asthma.rr
But persistent acid reflux is more than just annoying. If it occurs too often and persists for too long, it can erode the lining of the esophagus and increase the risk of developing a deadly cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma.rr
FIVE WAYS TO REDUCE ACID REFLUXrr
A Harvard University research team recently reported that many people could avoid this misery by adhering to an anti-reflux lifestyle. The researchers analysed periodic health surveys over 12 years from more than 40,000 nurses and identified five lifestyle characteristics that helped keep acid reflux at bay.rr
The more of these behaviors the nurses adhered to, the lower their risk of developing Gerd, the popular acronym for gastroesophageal reflux disease, the most persistent and potentially serious form of acid reflux. Following all five behaviors reduced the overall risk of developing Gerd symptoms by 37 per cent.rr
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY BODY WEIGHTrr
An analysis of the medical literature led by Dr Jesper Lagergren of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm found that Gerd affected about 22 per cent of people who were classified as obese, compared with about 14 per cent of those who were not obese.rr
After you eat, a muscular sphincter at the bottom of the esophagus opens to let food enter the stomach, and then closes to keep it from reversing direction. An oversized abdomen can put excess pressure on this sphincter and may prevent it from closing when it should, allowing contents from the acidic stomach to leach into the esophagus.