A team from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Hines, Illinois, USA investigated whether walking or gum-chewing affects meal-induced gastro-esophageal reflux.
The study population comprised of 12 case subjects with gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and 24 healthy controls.
Each subject was studied using pH-metry for 5 hours on 3 separate days. After baseline recording of pH for 1 hour, all subjects were fed a standard breakfast over a 20-minute period.
On one of the days, esophageal pH was recorded after the 20-minute eating period for an additional 4 hours in the sitting position. On another day, postprandial esophageal pH was recorded for the first hour whilst walking, and for 3 subsequent hours whilst sitting. During a third day, esophageal pH was recorded for the first postprandial hour whilst chewing gum, followed by 3 hours of sitting.
The team found that food intake promoted gastro-esophageal reflux in patients with GERD, as well as in healthy controls, although postprandial reflux was more pronounced amongst the refluxers than amongst the controls.
Duration of beneficial effect after 1 hour of activity:
Gum-chewing - 3 hours
Walking - Short duration
Chewing gum for 1 hour after the meal decreased the acid contact time in both groups, with a more profound effect in refluxers than in controls. The beneficial effect of 1 hour of gum-chewing lasted for up to 3 hours in both groups.
The beneficial effect of 1-hour of walking was found to be apparent only in refluxers, to a mild degree, and only for a short duration.
Dr B. Avidan, from the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Albuquerque, concluded, "Chewing gum after a meal helps to decrease postprandial esophageal acid exposure."