As one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders in the United States, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) - or acid reflux - afflicts approximately 60% of the population within 12 months, and 20 - 30% on a weekly basis.
Symptoms of GERD
While the most common symptom of GERD is burning pain in the chest, other symptoms include:
- Throat irritation
- Acid taste in the mouth
- Bad breath
- Chronic cough
- Difficulty swallowing
Over time, this common disease can cause inflammation and scarring, and even lead to cancer.
Simply taking proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) - or acid blockers - which are among the top 10 prescribed classes of drugs, only masks the problem. Recent studies have shown that acid blockers have numerous side effects, from an altered gut environment and impaired nutrient absorption to an increased risk for heart disease, kidney disease, and dementia. Although generally assumed to be safe, PPIs were only approved by the FDA for 8 weeks of use, yet they are often prescribed for months, years, and decades.
Addressing the Root Cause(s)
Addressing the root cause, of course, is the best way to heal GERD, and ironically, one of the root causes is not too much acid, but too little. This contributes to an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine and causes distention in the stomach, pushing the stomach contents - including acid - through the lower esophageal sphincter into the esophagus.
In addition to bacterial overgrowth, other common triggers of reflux include:
- Being overweight
- Overgrowth of H. pylori, a bacterium linked to GERD
- Magnesium deficiency, an important nutrient that relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter to help food go into the stomach
- Food sensitivities, including gluten and dairy
- Certain foods, including citrus fruits, chocolate, caffeinated drinks, fatty and fried foods, garlic, onions, spicy foods, peppermint, and tomato-based foods
- Eating right before bed and eating past the point of a full stomach
- Chronic stress, which negatively affects digestion and absorption
Dousing the Fire Within
- Eat a lower carbohydrate Mediterranean diet, which helps prevent fermentation and microbial overgrowth.
- Try an elimination diet to explore possible food sensitivities, including the elimination of trigger foods mentioned above.
- Try a chiropractic adjustment, which can often correct gastric reflux.
- Reduce your stress/practice healthy stress management!
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes, which can cause pressure on the stomach.
- Eat several hours before bed, and remain upright after eating.
- Avoid drugs that can cause heartburn or reduce the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter, such as NSAIDs, aspirin, steroids, birth control pills.
- Consider H. pylori infection.
- Try specific supplements: SpectraZyme Metagest® - has betaine HCl and pepsin to support the breakdown of food; Digest Ease - a broad-spectrum digestive enzyme to help breakdown food; Glutagenics® - contains DGL, glutamine and aloe, all nutrients that help coat and heal stomach lining; Mag Glycinate™ - helps to relax the digestive system; Zinlori 75™ - helps build and maintain integrity of gastric mucosal lining; UltraFlora™ Acute Care - combats yeast and promotes a healthy intestinal environment.
With adherence to these suggestions, diligence, and time, hopefully, your GERD symptoms will drastically improve and then vanish - altogether!