If you’ve ever suffered from acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion, then you are not alone. This is such a common problem and it can even run in families.
But did you realise your body is telling you something important? Basically it means that you are not digesting your food properly. And while this seems a small problem initially, it can become a huge issue dominating your life.
Knowing the cause of Acid Reflux can be very important in treating and curing it. On one hand it might be a result of a breakdown in the delicate balance of stomach acids and digestive enyzmes or it might be problems with the physical functioning of glands and valves. Certainly to find a permanent cure, you need to know what is happening in your gut.
A diagnosis of GERD – or gastroesophageal reflux disease – with its frequent and chronic burning means running the risk of scarring from the acidic stomach contents coming back up. In the worst cases it can develop into esophageal cancer (Barrett’s Esophagus).
The standard Western medical treatment involves the treatment of the acid reflux by neutralizing the Hydrochloric acid in the stomach and therefore taking away the problem.
But while just taking a pill, either an antacid or one of the heavy duty proton pumps, might give you initial relief from the symptoms of burning, pain or acid taste, it won’t solve the problem. In fact it could make the situation worse. The long-term use of antacids (like TUMS or Mylanta), proton pump inhibitors (like Nexium — the “Purple Pill,” Protonix, and Prilosec), or H2-receptor antagonists (like Tagamet, Pepcid or Zantac) can set you up for more problems down the road.
Because antacid tablets neutralize the Hydrochloric acid in the stomach your stomach will lose its acidic ability to break down the food into the vital nutrients your body needs. The body responds by intitially releasing more acid (acid rebound) but the long term use of acid inhibiting medications leads to even lower acid. If you stop the meds, the reflux or heartburn seems even worse with a perpetuating cycle of indigestion.
It’s time to address the underlying causes.
First check out possible physical causes with your doctor
- Hiatus hernia is a structural problem with a bulge up through the opening of the diaphragm and a subsequent change to the pressure gradient allowing the acid contents of the stomach back up into the oesophagus.
- Injury or abnormal arrangement of your internal organs affect the pressure gradient
- Posture – weighed down by life or shoulders rounded with stress? Your body shape could be cramping your stomach
- Allergies and intolerances to certain foods (most often wheat and/or dairy) cause inflammation, sensitive digestion and post meal discomfort
Age and Stage Lifestyle factors
- Pregnancy with the physical pressure of the baby affecting the pressure valves and sphincter.
- Age with the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) losing muscle tone.
- Obesity – direct link between obesity and acid reflux shown in a Scandinavian study in Journal of American Association in 2003.
- Prescription medications such as those for IBS and chronic diarrhea can affect the pressure gradient. Also antidepressants, codeine and opiates, hormone replacement therapy are linked with GERD.
- Alcohol and tobacco lowers LES pressure
- Your emotional state may be stuck and ‘eating’ you. Is there a loss you need to grieve or forgiveness you need to grant? Is your job stressful or are your finances a wreck?
- Eating while stressed or eating on the run make the problem worse.
What to do because you really want to get off the medications?
Changes to diet and lifestyle can cure acid reflux but you need to address the underlying causes as a prerequisite.
Firstly don’t just STOP taking the medications. Your symptoms will come back even more strongly. You have to ease back slowly.
Secondly address your trigger factors to find out what foods and when and how you eat them cause you the most problems. It can be a process of elimination but write it down in a food journal. It allows you to see the pattern of what might be the trigger foods.
Thirdly look at your eating habits. Changes to when you eat and how often might sound too simple but they can make a real difference.
Next address your stress levels. It’s really important to relax when you eat and for a while afterward. Eating on the run and not giving your body time to digest is a big trigger factor.
Finally consider a natural supplement to boost digestive function and restore natural acid balance.
The mystery of acid reflux solved.
Don’t let acid reflux rule your life. Your burning body is telling you something very important about your digestion and absorption of food. Be comforted by the fact that there are permanent and natural solutions available that work.
Listen to your body and make some simple changes NOW.
Our GM wellness guide on Acid Reflux sets out a simple step by step process and lists the specially formulated supplements to access including the simplest home remedy that already is in your kitchen cupboard!