In modern lifestyle, many people are facing gastrointestinal acid reflux and heartburn as a common problem. Several things can contribute to gastroesophageal acid reflux and heartburn. Antacid, acid suppressing medicine can only suppress the symptoms, doesn’t address the root cause. Furthermore long term use of such drug can contribute to other health disorders. In here we are picking up lesser known 6 hidden causes of acid reflux and heart burn and natural remedies.
How esophageal acid reflux occurs
In our earlier article we have mentioned about leakage of acidic stomach content to esophagus results acidity and heartburn. Gastro intestinal tract contains a gate called lower esophageal sphincter or shortly LES in between esophagus and stomach. In normal condition LES allows foods to enter from esophagus to stomach and then closed as well as prevent reverse flow from stomach. However in certain condition back flow of acidic stomach content occurs. In such situation you will feel acidity and heartburn. Remember stomach is designed for acidic environment but not the esophagus. A small amount of acid whether strong or weak can result acidity and heartburn and in long term it can damage the esophagus lining. When stomach contents enter in esophagus you will feel acidity or heartburn. This occurs due to decrease in LES pressure or increase of intra-abdominal Pressure (IAP) as well as duration.
6 hidden causes of acid reflux and heart burn and natural remedies
Inadequate stomach acid
Below the acidic measurement of stomach environment.
|Less than 3||Normal|
|3 to 5||Hypochlorhydria|
|Greater than 5||Achlorhydria|
Low ph indicates strong acidic environment and in the opposite, high ph indicates weak stomach acid or gastric juice.
Earlier we have discussed about how weak or inadequate stomach acid can lead to indigestion, malabsorption of food. Stomach acid gives protection against unwanted pathogens like bacteria, germs by killing them. Weak stomach acid also impairs pancreatic juice secretion also lead to bile acid deconjugation. These can result carbohydrates fermentation and protein putrefaction. And these conditions further can further lead to bacterial overgrowth and produces gas as well as harmful toxic by product. Which also increase intra-abdominal pressure and pushes stomach content back to esophagus. You can know more about these as wll as way to reverse them with below articles
Stomach acid becomes weak as people ages also with lifestyle habits including continuous use of antacid or acid suppressor. If your stomach acid become weak or inadequate, you are likely to miss many nutrients including vitamins, minerals. And you are stepping towards numbers of health disorders.
Supplementing betaine HCL pepsin with earlier part of meal can restore stomach acid. However you should go under guidance of proper physician and should avoid if you have stomach infection or ulcer. You may go for restoration after healing from infection under proper guidance of an healthcare professional. And remember it is always safer to test with smaller amount rather than large dose.
H. Pylori bacterial infection is commonly identified in stomach infection or ulcer.
You can read more about it about H. pylori infection and healing ulcer in stomach in our articles as below
Taking small amount of bitter food 10-15 min before food helps to stimulate gastric juice and aids digestion.
Usually hiatal hernia occurs as people ages. Although it is not very common it can causes acid reflux and heartburn. In normal upper part of the stomach is located just below the diaphragm. The diaphragm separates the abdomen from the cavity of the chest. And the esophagus passes through the diaphragm through an opening called a hiatus and connects with the stomach. Sometimes typically upper part of the stomach slips through the diaphragm. Acidic content of stomach may accumulate in the herniated portion and flow back to esophagus. And the reflux increasing as hernia size increases.
Weakness of supportive tissue can be a factor however exact cause of hiatal hernia is unknown. It occurs in people with older age. Other factors include obesity, increased abdominal pressure, lifting heavy weight, pregnancy, wrong sitting posture, excessive smoking, and stress.
Yoga like sitting pose, wind relieving poses help to improve hiatal hernia condition. Physiotherapy, massage therapy helps to relieve from hiatal hernia. These you should follow under proper guidance of a professional. For the case of larger one, a surgical approach may need.
Lifestyle factors plays important roles in longevity of tissue. You can also read about most common causes of lifestyle diseases and preventive measures.
Chronic stress possess major threats in modern lifestyle, can cause functional imbalance including hormonal functions, circulatory problem and other. Stress elevates cortisol hormonal level which impairs body’s immune system. Impaired or suppressed immune system can’t properly identify as well as remove infections from our body. This may also include bacteria in place like small intestine. And SIBO or small intestine bacterial overgrowth can lead to increase of intra-abdominal pressure as well as acid reflux.
Chronic stress also can cause adrenal fatigue and makes adrenal gland exhausted. This also reduces immune function as well as impairs blood flow. This further impairs immune systems to identify potential pathogens from normal bacteria. And high stress dramatically reduces digestive secretions like bile, pancreatic enzymes and most importantly, stomach acid. And researchers have found evidences between chronic stress and acid reflux or heartburn.
You can read our previous article can stress be a cause of acid reflux and heartburn.
Be positive, live life with love, understanding, don’t be extreme. Sleep well. Everyone has their own problems. A positive mind find a positive direction in problem. Yoga, meditation helps to calm down, improves health, concentration, develops mental peace. Physical exercises also helps to drain stress, improve daytime activeness, and nighttime sleep. Have good food, avoid refined, processed food as far as possible.
Obesity also relates with acid reflux. Obese people are more likely to experience acid reflux and heartburn that people with normal body weight. Obesity, in particular, abdominal obesity, plays a key role in determining GERD symptoms and complications through mechanical and metabolic effects. Moderate physical activity seems to be beneficial for GERD, while vigorous activity may be dangerous in predisposed individuals. In conclusion, weight loss significantly improves GERD.(2)
You should take control over refined as well as processed foods. Those can increase your body weight. Most of the refined oils are not good. Avoid damage or rancid fats/oils. Choose good fat like nuts, coconut, olive oil, flax-seed. Check if you have nut allergy. Ghee(clarified butter) and butter(check for salt content) are good but should take in moderation. Check your carbohydrates intake, limit simple carbohydrates. High carbohydrate intake is one main reason of gain weight specially processed types. And definitely take control over poisonous added sugar. You can also read 9 reasons to avoid sugar, hidden sugar names and sugar alternatives. Add whole foods to diet along with varieties fruits and vegetables.
Abnormal reflux also occurs in autoimmune disease like collagen vascular disease like scleroderma where damage to the connective tissue occurs.(3)Although it is not very common, it may impair movement of LES and esophagus. Further inflammation of the esophagus (which may occurs also due to entry of stomach content) is associated with decrease LES pressure and dysfunction of esophageal clearance.(4)
Autoimmune disease is a condition where body’s defense or immune system attacks body’s own cells and is not a single disease, spread to a vast group of diseases. Autoimmune diseases possess major threats in modern lifestyle. I can’t cover those in a single article and will come in coming articles. Only you know about major potential triggers of autoimmune diseases which includes impaired gut health and imbalance of good bacteria, food allergens including gluten and milk allergy, chronic stress and hormonal imbalance, toxins, infections and inflammation.
High blood sugar
This dirty condition interferes with many operating systems. After all human body works as a whole not in isolated. Sugar affects metabolism system of the body. High blood sugar also may contribute to the increased esophageal acid exposure in patients with diabetes mellitus.(5)
If you have acid reflux disoder, you should avoid or take control over inflammatory food, allergic food, hard to digest food, caffeine, alcohol, alcohol. Cigarette smoking also increases reflux. Be upright up to 2-3 hrs after eating food. Low carbohydrate diet, low sugar helps in reducing acid reflux. Prebiotic like high fiber diet, fermented food fuels bacterial overgrowth, so individual with with frequent acid reflux should take with care. Continuous use of antacid or acid neutralizer may temporarily give relief from symptoms, but weaken stomach acid and make situation worse along with development of other health disorders. Stomach acid and balance of good bacteria are two important things to consider along with blood sugar. I will come in coming articles about gut health and balance of bacteria.
Some drug like anticholinergic drugs, nitrates, calcium channel blockers, aspirin, buprofen, other NSAIDs can potentially trigger gastroesophageal reflux. Therefore discuss with your physician before application as over the counter.
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Disclaimer: Information provided here are generalized information for informational and entertainment purpose only, not intended to provide one to one health consultation or replace practice of a qualified practitioner. Different people may have different health condition and may have different reaction to the same food. Hence it has been advised to consult with health care provider before application of any of above information
Sources and references: 1. http://sibotesting.com/what-causes-sibo-psychiatry/ 2.Body weight, lifestyle, dietary habits and gastroesophageal reflux disease,Davide Festi,Eleonora Scaioli, Fabio Baldi, Amanda Vestito, Francesca Pasqui, Anna Rita Di Biase, and Antonio Colecchia,World J Gastroenterol. 2009 Apr 14; 15(14): 1690–1701. 3.Cohen S, et al. The pathogenesis of esophageal dysfunction in scleroderma and Raynaud's disease. J Clin Invest 1972;51:2663–2668 4.Kahrilas PJ, Dodds WJ, Hogan WJ. Effect of peristaltic dysfunction on esophageal volume clearance. Gastroenterology 1988;94:73–80 5.Zhang Q, et al. Effect of hyperglycemia on triggering of transient lower esophageal sphincter,relaxations. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2004;286:G797–803