Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is the result of a backward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus. This is the tube that connects your stomach to your throat. It can be caused for a variety of reasons, including a poor eating habits, food intolerances, weak esophageal sphincter, a hiatal hernia, obesity, stress, or dietary and lifestyle choices. If you suffer with a weak esophageal sphincter, you may be prescribed medications and dietary modification. If you suffer from severe acid reflux, a surgical procedure may be performed to help strengthen the esophageal sphincter. A hiatal hernia that does not respond well to medications may need to be surgically repaired. If your condition is caused by dietary and lifestyle choices, changing your habits can relieve your symptoms. Here we look into some causes of acid reflux.
Causes of Acid Reflux
Poor Eating Habits
What you eat may trigger acid reflux. Greasy foods, spicy foods and carbonated beverages can increase your risk. Additionally, eating starchy food items in conjunction with protein can cause acid reflux and indigestion. This is because protein takes longer than starch to digest. When these two types of food are ingested together, the starches must stay in the stomach longer than necessary, which causes the starches to begin fermenting. You can avoid this by limiting the amount of starchy foods you consume when eating protein.
A majority of Americans are intolerant to at least one food item and the symptoms associated with food intolerance are often overlooked or mistaken for something else. If you suffer with food intolerances, it can cause bloating, heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux. The most common food intolerances include wheat and dairy products. Because the body is unable to break down intolerant foods, the body produces more and more stomach acids that can lead to gut issues.
Food sensitivity testing can help unravel the problem. This includes testing for foods, medicinal herbs, food additives and colorings, environmental chemicals, molds, as well as antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.
Excess weight can be due to a number of reasons including hormone imbalances, poor eating habits, unhealthy lifestyle or other underlying health conditions.
Many people who are overweight consume large meals. Large meals can exert pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, causing it to partially open and allow stomach acids to fill into the esophagus. Losing excess weight with a safe, sensible diet and moderate exercise can help improve acid reflux in those who are overweight.
Stress can be due to an actual or perceived event that affects the balance between your body and brain. There can be short term stress (acute) or long term stress(chronic). Everyone knows that stress is bad for your health. But, did you realize that increased stress could exaggerate the symptoms of acid reflux?
Stress increases the production of cortisol, a stress hormone that affects how digestion occurs. To help alleviate digestive issues, use a variety of stress relieving techniques, such as meditation, yoga and acupuncture.
Did you know that water could cause acid reflux? Drinking too many fluids during your meal can dilute the stomach acids needed for digestions. Although this seems counterintuitive, you should limit the amount of water you drink during a meal. Limiting your fluid intake will help the food to digest faster and thus lowering the risk of acid reflux.
In addition to limiting the amount of fluid you drink during a meal, the temperature of your drink can either help or hinder digestion. Researchers believe that drinking a cold drink with your food can constrict the blood vessels and solidify fats, making them more difficult to digest. Instead of drinking a cold drink, enjoy a hot cup of tea or a drink served at room temperature to help improve digestion.
Holistic Treatment for Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is a painful condition caused by stomach acids rising into the esophagus. The symptoms of acid reflux include pain or discomfort in your chest, a bitter taste, regurgitation, burping, nausea after eating and bloating. If it is not treated, it can damage the esophagus, causing scarring and narrowing of the esophagus. This can lead to swallowing difficulties and may even cause esophageal cancer.
If your acid reflux symptoms are persistent, it is advisable to contact a functional medicine clinician who can help with the root cause analysis of your condition. A holistic treatment of your gut issues may also include diet or lifestyle changes, stress relief and an analysis of food intolerances.