Diets for Barrett's Esophagus
by Brad McHargue
Barrett's esophagus is a condition that serves as an indicator for an increased risk in esophageal cancer. It typically develops in those who suffer from chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease, and is characterized by a change in the shape and color of the cells that line the esophagus. Treatment is dependent on the severity of the condition. However, a simple change in diet can help lower the risk of Barrett's esophagus from becoming worse as well as help prevent frequent heartburn and acid reflux.
Given that Barrett's esophagus is a change in cellular composition, it is not typically accompanied with unique symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they often resemble those associated with gastroesophageal reflux and can include persistent heartburn, a burning pain in the chest and difficultly swallowing. In severe cases you may notice blood in your vomit or black stools that take on the appearance of tar, which indicates the presence of blood. While some of these symptoms, such as heartburn and acid reflux, may not necessarily warrant a visit to the doctor, the presence of blood in your stool or vomit indicates a need for medical attention.
Common treatments for Barrett's esophagus include a consistent monitoring of the cells to ensure they do not become cancerous and, in severe cases, surgical removal of the esophagus or removal of the cancerous cells. Before it comes to this, however, Barrett's esophagus and associated acid reflux can be treated through a few simple lifestyle changes, primarily a change in diet. The first step is to determine what causes an attack of heartburn or acid reflux and eliminating those foods from your diet. Common triggers include caffeine, spicy and fatty foods, and even chocolate. You should eat smaller meals more frequently so as to not place undue pressure on the digestive tract. Not only will this help quell heartburn and acid reflux, it will also contribute to a healthy weight, which can help prevent symptoms from occurring. After you eat, you should avoid laying down, as this could encourage acid to back up into the esophagus. If you must sleep after eating, do so with the head slightly elevated to allow gravity to work in your favor.