Weight Loss and Its Effect on Acid Reflux

05. 04. 2018

May is Women’s Health Month, a time for women to remember to take care of themselves and to make health a priority. One chronic health issue which affects many women is acid reflux. Due to hormones, millions of women experience heartburn throughout their childbearing years and into menopause.

There are various risk factors for acid reflux, but doctors usually recommend weight loss as a first line of defense. Excess weight, especially in the abdominal area, puts pressure on the sphincter muscle in the stomach and can allow acid to flow back into the esophagus.

Exercise is one way to reduce body weight in an effort to control acid reflux and alleviate heartburn. Although, at times, life may seem too busy for exercise, here are five reasons to put physical activity at the top of the to-do list. 

    1. Being overweight makes you twice as likely to develop gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
    2. Body fat can release chemicals that interfere with normal digestion.
    3. Losing even a small amount of weight can relieve pressure from the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the valve between the stomach and esophagus.
    4. Exercising increases blood flow to the GI system and improves digestive function.
    5. Consistent exercise, when paired with healthy eating, provides the most successful weight loss.

Talk to your gastroenterologist before beginning an exercise program. Proceed carefully because certain activities can make heartburn worse. These include:

    • High-impact exercises like running, weight-lifting, interval training, cycling and jumping rope
    • Aerobically intense exercises like tennis, basketball, volleyball or sprinting (these exercises can make you gulp air and can force acid upward)
    • Activities like yoga that involve lying down or bending over (Healthline)

Call your gastroenterologist today to make an appointment to find out other ways to ease your digestive symptoms. Your doctor can also suggest other lifestyle changes and treatments that can support what you are already doing.

If you are not under the care of a board-certified gastroenterologist, click here to enter your zip code in the orange box and to be connected with one of our GI experts.

Related Articles:

What a Gastroenterologist Does and When to Go See One
Managing Heartburn During Pregnancy
Study Finds Women are More Susceptible to GI Issues
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