Most digestive problems can be traced to bacterial imbalances in your GI tract or to low levels of the enzymes needed to properly digest food. When these things work well, we barely notice the digestive process. But when they don’t, the results can disrupt your entire life. Acid reflux, or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when acid, which should remain in the stomach, “leaks” into the oesophagus.
The digestive juices created in the stomach and liver tend to be very corrosive. Fortunately, the lining of the stomach is normally able to protect itself from these juices by secreting a protective mucus shield. The oesophagus doesn’t have these protective mechanisms and, therefore, any acid that refluxes into the oesophagus causes pain, inflammation, and damage and chronic exposure may cause more problematic diseases.
The most common symptom of acid reflux or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is heartburn pain—a burning sensation often centred in the breastbone area that can travel upward through the chest and into the neck, throat, or face. Those suffering from acid reflux or GERD experience persistent heartburn. Other symptoms include regurgitation and excessive salivation. At the bottom of the oesophagus, where it attaches to the stomach, there’s a small muscle sphincter that separates the two. It lets food pass into the stomach but tightens afterward to keep the acids and digesting food from moving back up into the oesophagus.
There are several things that can adversely affect the ability of the sphincter muscle to function properly and therefore allow stomach acid to reflux into the oesophagus and result in heartburn pain.
Sometimes part of the stomach actually pushes up through oesophageal sphincter and this is referred to as a hiatus hernia and it can result in acid reflux problems because the diaphragm gets damaged and fails to close off the sphincter muscle.
Certain Foods and Drinks
Research has shown that some foods and drinks can relax the ring-like sphincter muscle that helps keep stomach acid from refluxing or moving up into the oesophagus. Carbonated soft drinks have also been linked to acid reflux.
It has been shown that someone who smokes has almost double the risk of having acid reflux..
Aspirin in particular is a noted culprit when it comes to heartburn. Other drugs that can contribute to acid reflux problems include the rest of the NSAID family, calcium channel blockers and beta blockers used to treat high blood pressure, antibiotics, bisphosphonates used for osteoporosis, and certain sleep aids.
It has been reported that higher levels of fluoride in drinking water correlate with increased dyspepsia symptoms, which include excessive acid following meals.
Eating Before Bed
The stomach secretes digestive acids with every meal, but it secretes two to three times more acid late at night than at any other time This may contribute to nighttime acid reflux problems, particularly when meals are eaten late in the day or immediately before lying down for bed.
Acid-blocking drugs are widely promoted as the cure for heartburn and acid reflux. But these medications only provide short-term relief and ultimately lead to additional digestive and health issues. Instead try these effective natural remedies for heartburn and acid reflux problems.
‘Fix’ Your Hiatus Hernia
Along with your heartburn and acid reflux problems, do you experience the feeling that you’re full to the top after eating only a few bites? Do you also often burp your food and stomach acid back up after a meal? And do all your symptoms seem to get worse when you sit down or lie on your back? Well, this may indicate a hiatus hernia.
An exercise which may help:
Drink about a glass of either room temperature or slightly warm water when you get out of bed first thing in the morning.
While standing, bring your arms straight out from your sides and bend your elbows so your hands are touching your chest.
Stand up on your toes as high as possible and drop Drop down like this 10 times in a row.
Then, while standing with your arms up, pant short quick breaths for about 15 seconds.
The warm water acts like a weight in the stomach. Being warm, it relaxes the stomach. Spreading your arms stretches the diaphragm and opens up that hole in the back. Dropping down on your heels jerks the stomach out of the hole and the panting tightens up the diaphragm muscle to close the hole. Do this exercise every day because the weakness can prevail.
These enzymes are normally secreted from the pancreas and liver to assist digestion of foods-in particular processed foods with no inherent enzymes. By increasing their level whilst eating or immediately at the end of a meal, the digestion is more efficient and less compromised. Particular individuals may be more sensitive to certain foods and the use of a broad spectrum enzyme can offset the loss of digestion. Some enzymes may provide calmative and healing for the stomach lining ( e.g. papaya). Overall, if the digestion of fats, carbohydrates and proteins are digested more effectively in the stomach then higher nutritional benefits will arise and less adverse gastro-intestinal problems will occur. Higher levels of digestive enzymes has been connected with greater longevity.
Ginger root powder can be more effective for acid reflux problems than other medicines.).
Reduce Salt Use
Researchers found that continued use of sodium based salts increased reflux occurrence..
When acid starts to reflux, try chewing on some gum which has been shown to increase the volume of saliva by almost 140 percent. Saliva contains a long list of compounds that provide protection for the oesophagus. These protectants help explain the effectiveness of using chewing gum as an acid reflux treatment. Use a gum containing Xylitol to improve dental condition.
The natural solution for ulcers, deglycyrrhized licorice root (DGL), can also be an effective acid reflux treatment particularly as a chewable before meals when it gets mixed with saliva and helps to promote more digestive enzymes.
Many clinical studies have shown that probiotics can prevent and treat hundreds of common ailments, including acid reflux problems. Naturally fermented, "live" foods have been proven for stomach although many will not be potent enough to reach the intestines. Fermented vegetables, fermented milk products (use unpasteurised preferably for their higher enzyme content) , kefir, fermented soy products, and even naturally fermented, unpasteurized beers are some of the most complete probiotics available
A certified manuka honey taken before meals –cold and preferably gargled- can help to reduce oesophegal inflammation and calm stomach upsets.
Raw cabbage juice can be a calmative and promote balance of gastric bacteria.
A traditional aid for gastritis and other stomach inflammatory problems and may help those in convalescence where stomach capacity seems reduced.
Various herbs e.g. centaurium have a bitter taste which in itself incentivises the stomach to release more enzymes to increase stomach ‘eating’ capacity and can be used as an aid for those with other eating disorders