GERD and GLP-1 medications

Summer Kessel, RDN, LDN, CSO

One of the primary ways GLP-1 medications work to suppress appetite is by delaying gastric emptying. This means that foods “sit” a little longer in your stomach so you feel fuller over a longer period of time, essentially slowing down your digestion. This is why so many folks experience some mild nausea on these medications. A less common side effect is acid reflux or heartburn, which is common to experience every once and a while. If you continue to experience these symptoms, that may be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a more severe and long-lasting condition in which acid reflux causes repeated symptoms that are bothersome or lead to complications over time. An estimated 1 in every 5 (20%) of American adults suffer from GERD. 

If you are suffering from acid reflux or GERD, there are some changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle to help manage!

Check out these practical every day tips that may help you feel more comfortable: 

  • Avoid very high fat meals
  • Avoid fried foods
  • Avoid very spicy foods
  • Avoid acidic foods like tomatoes or citrus
  • Avoid chocolate 
  • Avoid caffeine, coffee, tea and carbonated beverages
  • Quit smoking or using tobacco products
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Go for a short walk after meals
  • Avoid laying down flat within an hour or two of eating 
  • Avoid tight fitting clothing
  • Use a pillow or wedge to elevate your head while sleeping 
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently and stop eating when you feel full. 

If these tips don’t seem to help, you may benefit from some GERD-management medications — your Clinician may help make recommendations for you for over the counter options or advise you to discuss prescriptions with your primary care providers. 

Keep in mind that there are two common types of GERD medicines that have been associated with B-12 deficiency to varying degrees. This risk increases significantly if taken for two or more years! 

  • H-2-receptor blockers. Examples include cimetidine, famotidine and ranitidine.
  • Proton pump inhibitors. Examples include omeprazole, esomeprazole and lansoprazole. 

Remember, GERD is not something to just ignore, as it can lead to more serious complications over time, such as: 

  • Inflammation of the tissue in the esophagus (esophagitis).  
  • Narrowing of the esophagus (esophageal stricture). 
  • Precancerous changes to the esophagus (Barrett esophagus).  
  • And other complications like chronic cough, hoarseness and laryngitis, disrupted sleep and the wearing away of tooth enamel. 

The dietitians at Sequence are here to help you with dietary management of side effects, evaluate your vitamin and mineral supplement needs, and support your weight loss goals. Ask your Care Team to book a 1:1 session with a member of the Nutrition Team! 

Summer Kessel, RDN, LDN, CSO

About the Author

Summer Kessel, RD, LDN, CSO is a registered dietitian nutritionist and mom of two who comes to Sequence as a member and 8+ years of experience in clinical and bariatric nutrition in Tampa, Florida. She is a champion for individualized, sustainable, realistic and evidence based nutrition and fitness interventions that improve quality of life. In addition to her professional skills, Summer has lost and maintained more than 140 lbs —of course, not without challenges— over the past 14 years, sharing her personal journey along the way to encourage and support others.

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