Acid reflux is a digestive disease that is a result of indigestion, typically caused by the malfunctioning of the oesophageal sphincter - a valve-like muscle that normally closes down after transporting chewed food to the stomach. In medical terms, acid reflux is referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease.
The presence of sparse amounts of hydrochloric acid in the stomach helps in the synthesis of food and its conversion into bile. In acid reflux, this acid moves upward due to the dysfunctional sphincter and causes a burning or irritation in the chest region since the oesophageal lining is thinner than the stomach lining. This is why it is also known as heartburn. It is sometimes mistakenly associated with constipation, but both are vastly different.
It might seem easy enough to spot acid reflux when you are in the throes of one, but it is trickier than it would let on. Nausea, chest pain, a bitter taste in the mouth and throat, the tendency to retch and having difficulty swallowing are all symptoms of an oncoming or ongoing acid reflux.
Why do you experience acid reflux while running?
If you frequently experience acid reflux while running, rest assured that it is nothing out of the ordinary. Not just beginners, but experienced runners may too face the problem of heartburn while running. Undigested food and enzymes are meant to travel downward towards your stomach, but this running obstructs the natural flow of food. Since the body is in the state of constant vertical and horizontal motion, the natural process of digestion is impeded by the force of gravity. Exercising causes the generation of a great amount of pressure on both the lower and upper abdominal regions, which “pushes back” the food and detracts it from its natural path, thus creating a sensation of nausea.
However, relieving the great amount of discomfort and uneasiness a reflux causes while running is possible with some precautions. Here’s how you can do it.
Do not eat before running
As tempting as it may be to grab a quick bite before heading out, refrain from doing so. If you start exercising right after you eat, your body doesn’t get enough time to break down the food. The resulting feeling of heaviness and feeling “full” will prevent you from getting much work-out done. The feeling of food being stuck in your throat will cause uneasiness and the effect of exercising will be nullified by digestive issues caused by running on a full stomach. Instead of a full meal, try eating a handful of nuts or an energy drink to keep yourself pumped.
Drink some water
No matter what the problem, water is always a good idea. There can be no two ways about it. Firstly, drinking adequate amounts of water speeds up the process of digesting the food by “washing it down” the oesophagus. Secondly, it creates pressure on the oesophageal sphincter to remain closed and prevents the backflow of acid and undigested food back into the throat. It also staves off the burning sensation arising in the chest region. Even if you are not athletically inclined, staying hydrated is of utmost importance because running causes a lot of draining of liquids from the body in the form of sweat.
A large amount of caffeine or tannin in the system is proven to increase acidity as it lines all over the stomach and causes problems in the digestive tract. Moreover, it causes retching and vomiting which is definitely not the experience you want to have while working out. If you absolutely must have your morning coffee in order to get that hit of energy, stick to an espresso or an Americano - basically something without dairy.
Regulate your weight
A larger BMI not only causes respiratory problems but also increases the possibility of acid reflux as unnecessary fat deposits make it difficult for the oesophageal valve to remain closed. This may seem like a catch-22 situation because acid reflux makes it difficult to run, while difficulty in exercising makes it harder to lose weight. But if you take the necessary precautions while running, it will be easier to regulate your weight and get rid of heartburn.
While there are many tablets in the market, depending on artificial chemicals can do more harm than good. If acid reflux troubles are a frequent occurrence that threaten your exercise routine, it’s time to look into natural, ayurvedic medication that relieves symptoms. Gas-O-Fast is an ayurvedic anti-acidity medication you can try for instant relief against acid reflux. Available in affordable sachets of different flavours, Gas-O-Fast works in seconds and does cause any side effects. So start your mornings on a healthy note and say goodbye to your heartburn troubles forever!