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Mardi Gras: The Feast Before the Fast
Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the traditional Feast between Epiphany and the austerity of Lent. As meat was historically avoided during Lenten fasts, stocks were cooked and consumed with gut-bulging effects! These days, we have grown to associate Mardi Gras less with a Christian Festival and more with wild parties, parades, and New Orleans. It’s a celebration characterized by booze, beads, and, let’s be honest, more booze.
The association between reflux and alcohol is well established, and many Americans are familiar with the heartburn that follows a heavy night of celebratory drinks. Alcohol can contribute to reflux in any number of ways, though the three big ones are:
- Carbonation: Beer adds large quantities of gas to your stomach, encouraging belching or burping. Along with some more intense burping may also come stomach contents or acid.
- Acidity: It will come as no surprise to learn that many alcohols are naturally quite acidic—and that doesn’t even include the mixers! A rum and coke might be your drink of choice, but it certainly won’t help your reflux.
- Relaxation: It’s no mistake that a drink can feel relaxing at the end of a hard day. Alcohol functions as a muscle relaxant. Unfortunately for reflux sufferers, muscles such as the lower esophageal sphincter (the muscle responsible for keeping food from moving upwards, out of your stomach) are also relaxed by alcohol. Worse yet, the soft palate can be relaxed sufficiently to cause snoring or apneas, which can contribute to negative pressure in the esophagus, causing even more reflux!
Is your plan to skip the reflux induced by alcohol and instead celebrate by indulging in fatty foods? We’re about to rain on your Mardi Gras parade. Unfortunately fat, in excessive quantities, can also cause reflux. As we like to say, moderation is your best tool in Rethinking Reflux. Being mindful of these quick tips, you’ll be on your way to a fun and reflux-free Mardi Gras!