Dr. Matthew Gianforte
Acid reflux is a common condition affecting many Americans today. It is also called gastric esophageal reflux disease (GERD).
The main characteristic of GERD is a burning sensation in the chest called “heartburn.” But, how can you fight acid reflux? It is simple, live an anti-inflammatory life, a natural way of beating acid reflux.
Do you know how digestion takes place? Let’s have a look at the process.
The natural passageway is from the stomach via the esophagus when you eat. The esophagus comprises a variety of ring-shaped muscle fibers. These prevent food from moving back from the stomach to the esophagus.
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) comprises these muscle fibers. The LES needs to close well for proper continuity of the digestion process, and if it fails to seal well, the eaten food, liquid, and stomach acid escape into the esophagus.
Hydrochloric acid (HCL) is a high pH acid for the inner esophageal tissues to handle. So, the high acidity inflames the inner esophagus causing the burning sensation.
Long-term damage of esophageal tissues can result in esophageal cancer.
Common Risk Factors for Gastric Esophageal Reflux Disease
Anything that blocks the esophagus or stomach region is a risk factor. Pregnancy and hiatal hernia are conditions that can obstruct the stomach region. Besides, alcohol, obesity, and alcohol are risk factors of GERD.
Many people believe that acid reflux results from excess HCL acid in the stomach. But, new science says otherwise. The little HCL acid secreted by the stomach is the root cause of GERD.
Does Your Stomach Need Acid?
The foods we take in contain much protein, creating the need for stomach acid. During digestion, our stomach produces low pH acids of 1.5-2.5.
The LES is a susceptible valve to pH, which closes when the pH falls below 3.0.
Insufficient acid in the stomach makes the LES remain open. The acid then discharges into the esophageal region, damaging the tissues.
The Problem Associated with Acid Reflux and Antacids
Have you ever used an antacid to relieve a burning sensation? Many people have done it. That is a cover-up, but you end up making the issue worse by reducing acidity levels. Your body struggles to digest food effectively, causing stress on the digestive organs.
Processed foods and some medications drain the body of essential B vitamins and trace minerals that create a sufficient supply of stomach acid.
H Pylori and Acid Reflux
H Pylori is an advanced microorganism that has extraordinary adaptive features. These features enable it the ability to survive the stomach’s severe environment. It produces a urease enzyme that breaks down the urea into carbon dioxide and ammonia. The process causes you to belch and have bad breath. The breakdown process neutralizes the acidifying effects of HCL.
HCL creates an acidic stomach environment, stimulating the release of bile from the gall bladder to break down fats in the small intestine. So, when the body produces less HCL, there is poor digestion of fats and protein. Poor digestion may result in a deficiency of certain nutrients.
H Pylori disturbs digestion leading to inflammation in the gut and gastrointestinal permeability. A leaky gut can cause;
- Irritable bowel symptoms with constipation or diarrhea
- Iron-deficient anemia.
- Thyroid problems etc.
Good Digestion Begins in the Stomach
By now, we know that HCL plays a crucial role in the stomach. The functions played by HCL must work well, or else we may suffer certain health conditions.
The low stomach acidity level is a common problem in the older generation—people who have been on antibiotics or had infections like H Pylori also have acidity issues. If your stomach is low on acid, your digestive tract lining becomes delicate. You may suffer from the leaky gut syndrome.
The Importance of Healthy Stomach Acid
Low acid levels in the stomach make fat and protein breakdown a challenge. As a result, large proteins get into the small intestines creating massive stress on the pancreas, forcing it to make enough enzymes to break the proteins.
The pancreatic enzyme stores wear out and create irritation in the gut. The stress also leads to insufficient absorption and usage of essential amino acids.
It also drains minerals in the body, making the stomach unable to form stomach acid. Unfortunately, this vicious cycle continues.