Lifestyle changes may help to prevent symptoms related to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), according to a research letter published online Jan. 4, 2021, byJAMA Internal Medicine.
Using data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, a nationwide study that included 116,671 women, researchers found that among 9,000 women who had GERD symptoms, those who met five specific anti-reflux lifestyle criteria were 40% less likely to have GERD symptoms than women who did not meet any of them. These were having a normal body weight; never smoking; participating in 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise each day; drinking no more than two cups of coffee, tea, or soda each day; and following a healthy diet. GERD symptoms were defined as reporting acid reflux or heartburn at least once a week.
The findings were based on the results of periodic surveys filled out by women in the study. The first GERD survey was collected in 2007, and the women in the GERD portion of the study were followed until June 2017. While women who met all five components of the anti-reflux lifestyle saw the greatest reduction in GERD symptoms, there was a reduction in symptoms for each of the five lifestyle elements on its own. So even small changes may help.