Reflux comes from Latin and means reflux. This usually refers to the reflux of gastric acid or gastric contents into the esophagus (gastroesophageal reflux disease). The refluxing gastric acid irritates the mucous membrane of the esophagus. This is manifested by burning pains behind the breastbone, which are also called heartburn, and can radiate to the neck and upper abdomen. It can come to inflammation of the esophagus. The cause is a malfunction of the muscle surrounding the esophagus in the lower part. Its task is to close the esophagus between the meals to the stomach and thus to prevent the reflux of the gastric contents. If this closing mechanism does not function properly, gastric acid enters the esophagus - with the consequences just described.
Nutrition in reflux disease
A change in lifestyle usually causes a tremendous relief. As a rule, mild symptoms can be managed, in other cases they considerably reduce the symptoms:
- Four to six small meals are better than a few big ones. The last meal of the day should be short and taken three hours before the bed rest.
- Small, protein-rich meals have a positive influence on the closing mechanism, such as natural yoghurt, scrambled eggs or lean fish. Fat and sugar-rich foods, however, affect the closing mechanism.
- Those affected should not drink alcohol, especially in the evening. Because alcohol weakens the esophageal muscle. For the same reason you should also avoid sweets (especially chocolate), sweet drinks, coffee, black tea, spicy spices, citrus fruits and nicotine. High-fat foods, such as fatty meats, fish, and cheeses, deep-fried, crisps, mayonnaise, or cream sauces, should be replaced with the low-fat varieties, such as lean, steamed meats, low-fat cheeses and dairy products, and so on.
- People with obesity should try to reach their normal weight. Because the extra pounds increase the pressure in the stomach - when lying down, this can lead to the stomach contents being "pushed" upwards more easily.
Stronger or longer-lasting complaints must be taken seriously and treated with medical attention. Because it could form ulcers as well as scars that narrow the esophagus. Another tip for the night: Sleeping with the upper body prevents or reduces the reflux of gastric contents into the esophagus.