GERD: Ways to Alleviate Symptoms

Heartburn is a very common symptom created by acid reflux, a condition where some of the stomach contents, including stomach acid, are forced back up into the esophagus, creating a burning pain in the lower chest. Persistent acid reflux that happens more than twice a week results in the diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). According to estimates from the American College of Gastroenterology, at least 15 million Americans experience heartburn – the symptom of acid reflux – every day.

Most people are occasionally affected by heartburn, which is rarely a significant cause for concern. Recurrent acid reflux, however, resulting in the diagnosis of GERD can have serious consequences for health.

GERD is seen in people of all ages, and the cause is often attributable to a lifestyle factor, but it can also be due to unavoidable factors such as anatomical abnormalities affecting the valve at the top of the stomach. However, changes to lifestyle or behavior can prevent or improve heartburn symptoms.

The American Gastroenterological Association offers the following list of things to try to see if symptoms resolve:

  • Avoid food, drinks, and medicines that you find to be associated with heartburn irritation.
  • Eat smaller meals.
  • Do not lie down for two to three hours after a meal.
  • Lose weight if overweight or obese.
  • Avoid increased pressure on your abdomen, such as from tight belts or doing sit-ups.
  • Stop smoking.

It is important to address persistent problems with gastroesophageal reflux disease as long-term untreated acid reflux can lead to serious complications including an increased risk of cancer.

    The following foods are known to aggravate acid reflux, and should be avoided:

    • fatty or fried foods
    • peppermint and spearmint
    • whole milk
    • oils
    • chocolate
    • creamed foods or soups
    • most fast foods
    • citrus fruits and juices (grapefruit, orange, pineapple, tomato)
    • coffee (regular and decaffeinated)
    • caffeinated soft drinks
    • tea
    • other caffeinated beverages
    • spicy or acidic foods may not be tolerated by some individuals

If you suffer from GERD, schedule an appointment at VIPSurg. They can help you find the right treatment for your unique case.

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Obesity’s Link to Breast Cancer

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as with many conditions and diseases, obesity can increase one’s risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 70% of American adults are overweight. Compared with people of normal weight, those who are overweight or obese are at greater risk for many diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and many cancers. Most breast cancers occur after menopause. For women, being overweight or obese after menopause increases the risk of breast cancer. 

Having more fat tissue can increase your chance of getting breast cancer by raising estrogen levels. Also, women who are overweight tend to have higher levels of insulin, another hormone. Higher insulin levels have also been linked to some cancers, including breast cancer.

Before menopause, most estrogens in the body are produced in the ovaries. After menopause, the ovaries no longer produce much estrogen and estrogens mainly come from fat tissue. Fat tissue contains an enzyme called aromatase that converts hormones called androgens (made mostly in the adrenal glands) to estrogens. Therefore, heavier women have higher blood estrogen levels than leaner women.

Body shape may also affect breast cancer risk. Some findings show women who put on extra weight around their middle sections (sometimes called “apple-shaped”), as opposed to their hips and thighs (sometimes called “pear-shaped”), have a small to moderate increased risk of breast cancer.

And even though gaining weight can raise your cancer risk, it’s not clear whether losing weight reduces your risk. This has been difficult to study, mainly because very few people actually lose weight during adulthood, and those who do lose weight don’t usually keep it off over a long period of time. 

We do know that avoiding weight gain is helpful, whether you are overweight now or not. One large study found women who gained about 20 pounds after age 18 had a 15 percent higher risk of breast cancer compared to women who gained little or no weight. If you’re carrying extra pounds, losing as little as 5%-10% of your weight improves your overall health. 

Exercise can also lower breast cancer risk in addition to helping lose weight. Many studies have found that exercise is a breast-healthy habit. As little as 75 to 150 minutes of brisk walking each week has been shown to lower risk. Exercising more may lower your breast cancer risk even further.

Strong evidence for a relationship between weight loss and cancer risk comes from studies of people who have undergone bariatric surgery. Obese people who have bariatric surgery appear to have lower risks of obesity-related cancers than obese people who do not have bariatric surgery.

If you’re considering bariatric surgery, schedule a consultation here at VIPSurg. Our team of experts can help find the right treatment for you.

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Diet Recommendations for After Weight-Loss Surgery

A gastric bypass diet helps people who are recovering from sleeve gastrectomy and from gastric bypass surgery — also known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass — to heal and to change their eating habits. Your doctor or a registered dietitian can talk with you about the diet you’ll need to follow after surgery, explaining what types of food and how much you can eat at each meal. Closely following your gastric bypass diet can help you lose weight safely and keep you feeling well too.

The gastric bypass diet is designed to:

  • Allow your stomach to heal without being stretched by the food you eat
  • Accustom you to eating the smaller amounts of food that your smaller stomach can comfortably and safely digest
  • Help you lose weight and avoid gaining weight
  • Avoid side effects and complications from the surgery

Diet recommendations after gastric bypass surgery vary depending on your individual situation. A gastric bypass diet typically follows a staged approach to help you ease back into eating solid foods. How quickly you move from one step to the next depends on how fast your body heals and adjusts to the change in eating patterns. At each stage of the gastric bypass diet, you must be careful to:

  • Avoid dehydration.
  • Wait about 30 minutes after a meal to drink anything and avoid drinking 30 minutes before a meal.
  • Eat and drink slowly, to avoid dumping syndrome — which occurs when foods and liquids enter your small intestine rapidly and in larger amounts than normal, causing nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sweating and diarrhea.
  • Eat lean, protein-rich foods daily.
  • Choose foods and drinks that are low in fats and sugar.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Limit caffeine, which can cause dehydration.
  • Take vitamin and mineral supplements daily as directed by your health provider.
  • Chew foods thoroughly to a pureed consistency before swallowing, once you progress beyond liquids only.

The gastric bypass diet can help you recover from surgery and transition to a way of eating that is healthy and supports your weight-loss goals. Remember that if you return to unhealthy eating habits after weight-loss surgery, you may not lose all your excess weight, or you may regain any weight that you do lose.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are considering bariatric surgery, schedule a consultation with VIPSurg. Dr. Tsuda and his team are ready to help you on your way to a healthier, happier life.

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