Gastresophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder which affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). LES is the muscle between the stomach and esophagus. GERD usually causes heart burn and acid digestion and is common amongst pregnant women. Medical experts believe that a condition called “hiatal hernia” is the cause of GERD. More than 60 million American adults experience heartburns, which is one of the symptoms of GERD.
Doctors usually recommend a change in diet and lifestyle if anyone is suffering from GERD. The aim of this diet change is reducing the damage to the esophagus. Foods such as chocolate, coffee and fatty foods can be very harmful for a GERD patient. It is advised that anyone suffering from this condition should also quit smoking. Finally, it has been noticed that people with higher BMI usually experience symptoms of GERD more often.
A study was conducted to shed light over the link between increased risks of GERD if the BMI is high. The study was published in the June edition of New England Journal of Medicine. A questionnaire was filled out by 10,545 women; the aim of this questionnaire was to evaluate the severity, occurrence and duration of GERD symptoms. 22 percent of the women said that they experienced the symptoms at least once a week. 55 percent of the women reported that their symptoms were moderate in severity.
The interesting information was that women who had BMI of 20 or less had 33 percent lower chances of experiencing GERD symptoms as compared to women with BMI of 22.4. Similarly, women who had a BMI of 22.5 to 24.9 had a 38 percent higher risk of experiencing GERD symptoms as compared to women with BMI of 22.4. This study revealed the fact that an increase in BMI also increases the occurrence of GERD symptoms.
Dr. Brian Jacobson, author and assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine said “We see an extremely linear trend that shows that the higher up you go on the BMI scale, the higher risk you have.” High BMI has been associated with higher risk of heart diseases, cancer and diabetes as well. So if you attempting to lose weight can actually protect you from a variety a diseases. Dr. Anthony A. Starpoli, a gastroenterologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City said, "Rip-roaring heartburn and regurgitation affects your quality of life immediately, we need to educate people that there are things that they can work on to avoid other problems such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease."
However, the reason why high BMI increases the occurrence of GERD symptoms is still not fully understood. Scientists think that the pathopysiology of GERD is affected by intragastric pressure and gastroesophageal pressure which leads to incompetence of the LES.
GERD is a curable condition; the only thing you need to control is your diet. Maintain a healthy lifestyle and make sure you remain physically fit. If the BMI is optimal, the occurrence and severity of GERD symptoms reduce. The importance of healthy diet has been emphasized on more than one occasion, eating healthy and avoiding junk food can protect you from a lot of unwanted diseases.