Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects approximately 20 percent of the population, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
GERD Occurs When the Lower Esophageal Sphincter Opens at the Wrong Time
Your esophageal sphincter (LES) is a muscle located between your esophagus and stomach. Its job is to allow food to pass in one direction – from your esophagus into your belly.
When it’s doing its job correctly, the LES opens to allow food to pass into your stomach and closes to keep food and stomach acid from flowing back into your esophagus.
Unfortunately, if your les relaxes at the wrong time, the highly acidic juices from your stomach escape back into your esophagus, causing any number of problems.
Your Hiatal Hernia Could Contribute to GERD
Hiatal hernia is a condition when part of the stomach moves up in the chest, pushing through a small opening in the diaphragm. Some doctors believe this condition can weaken the LES, increasing the risk of GERD.
Obesity and pregnancy can contribute to this condition. So too can coughing, vomiting, and sudden physical exertion. Haital hernias can occur at any age, though it typically identified in middle-age men and women.
In most instances, hiatal hernias require no course of treatment. However, treatment could be necessary if:
- The hernia is in danger of strangulation, twisting to such a severe degree as to cut off the blood supply
- A patient is experiencing severe GERD
GERD can be Triggered by Smoking
Trigger GERD is among the myriad of reasons smoking is bad for your. In Dennis Thompson, Jr.’s article, Smoking Can Lead to GERD, he outlines why studies have show a close link between smoking and GERD. (The article was medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass, III, MD, MPH.) These reasons included:
- Nicotine relaxes your sphincter, increasing the chance of stomach acid escaping into your esophagus.
- Nicotine reduces salivation. Saliva is your body’s natural way of neutralizing any acid that does escape.
- Nicotine increases the production of stomach acid.
GERD can be Triggered by Certain Foods
The 2013 case study, ‘Dietary Intake and Risk for Reflux Esophagitis: A Case-Control Study,’ published in Gastroenterology Research and Practice, found a connection between GERD symptoms and specific foods. These foods included:
- Meat, particularly red meat that’s higher in cholesterol and fatty acids
- Oils and high fat foods
- Salt, particularly in high quantities
- Calcium rich foods, such as dairy
Additionally, doctors have attributed GERD flare ups to acidic foods, like tomato sauce; acidic drinks, like orange juice, coffee, and grapefruit juice; mint; chocolate; carbonated beverages; and alcohol.
GERD can be Triggered by Obesity
Since the early 200s, several studies have looked at the association between weight gain and GERD symptoms. The vast majority of them have shown a direct link between obesity and GERD, including the 2006 cohort study, ‘Body-mass index and symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux in women’ published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Having evaluated 10,545 women in the US, the study confirmed that even a moderate weight gain was likely to cause or exacerbate GERD.
GERD can be Treated with Lifestyle and Dietary Changes
The first step to treating GERD is avoiding triggers through lifestyle and dietary adjustments. For many individuals making these changes can be difficult. Avoiding foods like chocolate, peppermint and fatty foods might seem like a serious sacrifice.
But, it could also help you avoid suffering from heartburn and damaging the lining of your esophagus with an excess of acid.
Avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and coffee is also strongly recommended.
Many patients have also benefited from reducing their portion size. By eating smaller quantities at a time, you reduce the volume of food in your stomach and chance of food escaping.
Eating at least 2 hours before bed is another way to reduce the chance of a flare up. Think of your stomach like a half-full water bottle. It’s easier for the water to escape if your lay the bottle on it’s side. The same is true of your stomach. You might also try raising the head of your bed a few inches. This is another good way to keep your stomach from laying completely flat.
Many patients have also benefited from losing weight, as this can help reduce the pressure placed on your stomach.
Vitamins and Minerals Can Help Prevent GERD
The human body is this amazing machine. It’s designed to keep your major organs (like your heart and brain) functioning for as long as possible. Like your phone going into low power mode, when your body is deficient of key vitamins and nutrients, it will shut down the ‘non-vital’ functions.
The symptoms of these ‘shut downs’ can vary in severity and can often lead to the onset of other, even less desirable side effects. By correcting any vitamin deficiencies you may have, you can help prevent GERD flare-ups.
One of the most common ways to treat vitamin deficiencies is orally. Unfortunately, even the most effective digestive tracts only process about 20% of the vitamins and nutrients consumed.
IV Drip Therapy can help you boost the effectiveness of an oral treatment plan and speed up your recovery. By delivering the nutrients you need directly into your bloodstream, you’re able to absorb nearly all the vitamins and minerals administered.
Pregnancy heartburn can be extremely painful. Unfortunately, many of the traditional solutions require pills and medications to which you probably don’t want to expose your baby. Luckily, natural heartburn remedies can provide heartburn relief.
The vast majority of adults experience heartburn at some point during their life. Beyond being uncomfortable, it can pose some pretty serious threats.
You deserve to feel your best. Give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs.
Naturopathic health care with compassionate integrative doctors who understand your unique medical needs.