Acid reflux, also known as Gerd which stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease is when stomach acid moves up into the esophagus causing what many call heartburn. Acid reflux can happen to anybody at any time but a person is only diagnosed with GERD if they experience this happening more than twice a week on a consistent basis.
What Causes Acid Reflux
Many things can trigger acid reflux but those who suffer from it usually have a stomach abnormality called hiatal hernia which is when the diaphragm is not able to keep stomach acid from getting up into the esophagus because the upper part of the stomach and lower esophageal sphincter has moved above the diaphragm muscle.
Other factors that can trigger acid reflux are eating large meals, eating heavy or large meals and then lying down right after, snacking right before going to bed, and eating citrus foods, chocolate, mint, onion, or spicy foods. Drinking alcohol, coffee, tea or carbonated drinks can trigger acid reflux as well as smoking, pregnancy, and obesity. Medications have also been linked to causing acid reflux.
Why Acid Blockers Are No Good
The most simple way to put it is that acid blockers do not heal acid reflux disease, they simply lessen the discomfort by lessening the amount of acid your stomach is producing. Unfortunately, this has caused people suffering from GERD to be reliant on these medications.
A huge portion of the world’s population is taking drugs to reduce levels of acid in their stomach. These drugs are referred to as PPIs which work to alleviate acid from building up in the stomach. This may sound great in theory, but the problem that has been discovered is that when people stop using PPIs, their stomach acid gets worse.
This is due to what is called an ‘acid rebound’. Acid rebound is where stomach cells make acid multiply over several weeks of taking PPIs in an effort to overcome their effects. Once people stop taking PPIs the stomach cells pour out an increased amount of acid that is greater than what the stomach was producing before. In essence, for those that suffer from acid reflux, the acid reducers they were taking made their situation worse.
The Importance Of Gut Health
The symptoms you experience with your digestion are due to how well your GI tract is working.
The GI tract can experience anything from gas, bloating, and constipation, to stomach pains and even acid reflux. A person’s GI tract is the most complex system in the body making it responsible for your overall health.
A healthy gut will digest and absorb key nutrients from the food that you eat while removing toxins and serving as the first line of immune defense. If any of these are not fully operating at their optimal levels it can have a negative impact on your health. Eating the right healthy foods that work with your body is key to developing a healthy gut.
Lifestyle Change Suggestions
To help prevent acid reflux its important to understand how it is triggered and then avoid those trigger. Most triggers have to do with foods so being aware of which foods to stay away from and when you should eat other foods will be helpful.
Foods that can trigger acid reflux are onions, peppermint, chocolate, citrus fruits, citrus juices, spicy foods, tomatoes, caffeine, alcohol, and high fatty foods like fried foods. When you have meals eat them slowly and in smaller portions so you don’t fill up your stomach. You should also plan to eat your last meal a few hours before bedtime. This will allow food to properly digest and settle into your system helping to keep acid levels from rising. Drink plenty of water also.
Keeping a journal of when you experience acid reflux issues can help you tune in to the triggers that are causing it.
Acid reflux can be very frustrating but if you focus on when your body is triggered you can start to change different habits around your eating and lifestyle that can prevent acid reflux from happening. Always remember the importance of a healthy gut as the foods your put into your body can have a positive or negative impact.