Well Being

Surprise! Our Atrocious Eating Habits Are to Blame for Acid Reflux in America

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acid reflux caused by late night eatingPut down that late night pizza! I say this as someone who enjoyed like, five slices of pepperoni just last night—the dangers of late night eating are real, and the acid reflux epidemic in this country is backing that up.

According to the New York Times, acid reflux now affects as many as 40 percent of Americans and raking in as much as $13 billion in over-the-counter ant-reflux medications per year. (I mean, at least our bad habits are bolstering the economy?)

Some fun, attractive symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn, indigestion, postnasal drip, gross throat clearing, trouble swallowing, coughing, and asthma. Cute. Oh, and did we mention that acid reflux can lead to esophageal cancer—a rate that's increased 500 percent since the 1970s. Cool.

So what is to blame? Since this is America and we have no concept of portion control and boast a collective body mass index that borders on “next step, morbid obesity”, we can attribute the uptick in diagnoses to our very poor diets. Thank you sugar, soft drinks, processed foods, and last but not least, our dinner.

As a nation, our dinnertime has been trending later and later over the last twenty years. Because of our crazy long work hours and post 9 to 5 activities like working out and running errands, our last meal of the day has become a right-before-bed bad habit.

Let's look to our European counterparts and follow their example. Jamie Kaufman wrote for the Times: 

In my experience, the single most important intervention is to eliminate late eating, which in the United States is often combined with portions of large, over-processed, fatty food. Europeans have fewer cases of reflux than we do, even though many of them eat late. That’s most likely from portion control. In France, for example, a serving of ice cream is typically a single modest scoop, while in America, it’s often three gargantuan scoops.

And there you have it, America. As per usual, our gluttony and overall sloth-like outlook on health and you know, living, is making us look bad. Get. It. Together.

Photograph: Shutterstock