ACID REFLUX is an epidemic affecting as many as 40 percent of Americans. In addition to heartburn and indigestion, reflux symptoms may include postnasal drip, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, chronic throat clearing, coughing and asthma. Taken together, sales of prescribed and over-the-counter anti-reflux medications exceed $13 billion per year.
The number of people with acid reflux has grown significantly in recent decades. Reflux can lead to esophageal cancer, which has increased by about 500 percent since the 1970s. And anti-reflux medication alone does not appear to control reflux disease. A Danish study published this year concluded that there were no cancer-protective effects from using the common anti-reflux medications, called proton pump inhibitors, and that regular long-term use was actually associated with an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Do you eat dinner late at night and go to bed less than three hours later? Do you also suffer from unexplained post-nasal drip, cough, and difficulty swallowing? These could be signs of acid reflux, which, unbeknownst to many, can occur without the telltale signs of heartburn and indigestion.
Further, if you want to nip it in the bud, all you may have to do is change your lifestyle to eat dinner earlier. Eating late at night, especially if you overeat and/or eat heavy foods, and then lying down shortly after, is a recipe for acid reflux.
Increasingly Later Dinners May Be Driving Acid Reflux Cases
In the last 35 years, New York physician Jamie Koufman, who specializes in acid reflux, told the New York Times that long work hours necessitate a late dinner for many. Then, many people push it back further by trying to fit in shopping, exercise and other activities beforehand.
To stop the remarkable increase in reflux disease, we have to stop eating by 8 p.m., or whatever time falls at least three hours before bed. For many people, eating dinner early represents a significant lifestyle shift. It will require eating well-planned breakfasts, lunches and snacks, with healthy food and beverage choices.
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