Each year around Thanksgiving, the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders recognizes GERD Awareness Week. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD, is a common disorder that affects roughly twenty percent of the U.S. adult population. Although common, the disease is often unrecognized, and its symptoms misunderstood.
According to the IFFGD, GERD is most often associated with repeat occurrences of stomach contents flowing backward, or reflux, into the esophagus, causing irritation of the esophagus lining. The most common symptoms people may experience are heartburn (acid reflux) or acid regurgitation (refluxed material into the mouth). Other symptoms to watch for include chest pain, difficulty swallowing, excessive belching, inflammation of the gums, or a sensation of a lump in the throat.
GERD Awareness Week 2020
During this year’s 21st Annual GERD Awareness Week, IFFGD encourages people who experience symptoms to seek treatment with a qualified physician. During the Thanksgiving holiday, IFFGD recommends eating an earlier meal to give your body ample time for digestion and to cut out, or limit, alcohol or cigarette smoking. It is also a good idea to skip fruit juice and other high acidic foods during dinner. IFFGD advises serving smaller appetizers during the holiday.
Smoking, eating large meals, eating late at night, eating fatty or fried foods, drinking alcohol, drinking caffeine, and taking certain medications can all irritate acid reflux. GERD treatment options include diet modifications, acid-reduction medications, and proton pump inhibitors.
Ongoing GERD Studies
Some studies show that there is a connection between acid reflux and gut bacteria. In his book, Fast Tract Digestion, Norman Robillard, Ph.D., suggests that Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) may be the real cause of GERD. Dr. Robillard’s theory suggests the gas produced by bacteria residing in the small intestine puts enough pressure on the small intestine and stomach; that it can push the acid from the stomach into the esophagus.
Currently, Commonwealth Diagnostics International, Inc. (CDI) has partnered with Northwestern University on a study aimed at evaluating the efficacy of evidence-based diet interventions on GERD symptoms for patients dependent on proton pump inhibitors. Preliminary outcomes from the NU-GERD Diet Study were presented as posters during the American College of Gastroenterology’s ACG Virtual 2020 Conference:
- Nutrition Interventions Improve Gastroesophageal Reflux Symptoms Among GERD Patients Who Successfully Stopped Taking Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI): https://cdmcd.co/Qq9m3L
- Proposed Mechanisms for Role of Nutrition Intervention on Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Symptoms and Pathogenesis: https://cdmcd.co/xaZy3q
Additional GERD Resources
For healthcare providers and patients, here are some additional resources to learn about GERD:
- In a recent podcast with The Harley Street Edit, Dr. Anthony Hobson from The Functional Gut Clinic discusses GERD and its impact on patients living with the disease.
- Check out these commonly asked questions about GERD.
- Download and share this free copy of our comprehensive GERD brochure from IFFGD to help others learn about the condition.
- Find more information available in the IFFGD Library.