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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is Barrett's oesophagus?

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    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    Barretts oesophagus generally occurs after a long period (more than 5 years) of suffering from gastric reflux/ heartburn or GORD. Normal cells of the oesophagus are flat, pinkish-white, smooth cells that allows the easy passage of food into the stomach. What happens when there is long term exposure to gastric juices is that the cells lining the lower oesophagus change in their appearance to red-mucus secreting cells similar to that found in the stomach (to protect it against the acidic gastric juice). Eventually this can lead to cancer. 

    Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GORD affects around 21-59% of the adult population. Symptoms include:

    • burping
    • pain swallowing and difficulty swallowing
    • heartburn
    • vomiting and 
    • weightloss

    Dietary treatment of GORD and/or Barretts oesophagus includes:
    • small meals, reduced fatty foods
    • avoiding drinking big volumes of fluid with meals
    • reducing alcohol intake
    • avoid irritants such as chilli, excess caffeine, fizzy drinks
    • avoid lying down immediately after consuming a meal (wait 2-3 hours)
    • in general a normal healthy diet making sure to incorporate fruit, veg and fibre

    Doctors may prescribe certain medications that help to reduce the amount of acid produced in the stomach. However, this may lead to some malabsorption issues if long-term use so a consultation with an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) would be beneficial to ensure your diet and nutrient requirements are being met. To find an APD head to the Dietitians Association of Australia's website: www.daa.asn.au

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