Acid Reflux, GERD & Heartburn… Explained!!

There are many reasons that people suffer  from Acid Reflux, GERD & Heartburn; and contrary to popular belief its NOT from too much acid!!

Don’t believe the drug companies advertisements; acid reflux symptoms are not caused by too much acid in the stomach.

In fact, research suggests, it is quite the opposite.

Firstly lets distinguish between the 3 conditions; although similar they differ in their manifestations.

What’s the Difference?

ACID REFLUX is the backward flow of stomach acid into the oesophagus; it may just be a one off or a rare occurrence.

If this becomes frequent it is then diagnosed as GERD.

The most common symptom of GERD is frequent pain and burning in the chest, this is commonly called HEARTBURN.

Virtually every study done on GERD and acid reflux points to diet as the main contributing factor; so once again it is a mostly earned condition.

Why Does Acid Relux Occur?

Acid reflux happens by dysfunction of the lower oesophageal sphincter (think of it as a valve); which is allowing acid to rise up the oesophagus.

This valve (that connects the stomach to the oesophagus) is supposed to close as soon as food passes through. Although, if it doesn’t close all the way, acid can creep up from lower in the digestive system and begin to cause problems.

Common Causes of Acid Relux

Everyone’s gut is different and there are many different triggers; in saying that, here are some main offenders:
• Inflammation
Medications
• Pregnancy
Obesity
• Underdeveloped digestive system (infants only)
• Carbohydrate malabsorption
• Eating too much
• Chronic smoking
• Hiatal hernia
• Older age
Some people may have just one trigger; others may have a few or list several.

Using over the counter and prescription medications to treat the symptoms is far from a cure, at best it will offer short term relief.

What’s concerning is that these medication may make things much worse and even manifest new symptoms: such as, muscle cramps, further digestive issues and headaches.

Associated Signs & Symptoms of Acid Reflux

• Heartburn
• Dry mouth
• Bad breath
• Coughing and choking (in the night)
• Bitter taste in mouth
• Bloating after eating
• Excessive gas and burping
• Chronic throat irritations
• Nausea
• Bloody vomiting (if the oesophagus is damaged)
• Difficulty swallowing (if the oesophagus is inflamed)
• Black stools

Health Complications if Left Untreated

If the cause is not addressed things may become chronic.  Scarring of the oesophagus may cause narrowing.

Research suggests that long term untreated symptoms may lead to serious health complications such as cancer of the oesophagus, sleep disturbance and chronic coughing.

The Conventional Approach

The conventional approach insists that the cause is excessive acid and to treating the symptoms with drugs (ant-acids, H2 blockers and PPI’s).  If this doesn’t work doctors may then recommend surgery to tighten the sphincter (valve).

Unfortunately, these are not cures; symptoms may not only return but as a result of taking the drugs, brings with them many more unwanted side effects.

Medications & Stomach Acid pH

The pH or the stomach is supposed to be between 1.5 and 3.5 (extremely acidic). The drugs alter it to become less acidic (up about 2 points).

The body will recognise that the pH is now out of balance and continually produce more acid to try to bring back the balance; this will happen every time a medication is taken.

Side Effects of Common Medications

There are many side effects of prescription and over the counter drugs; here are just 5.
Antacids
• Mood/mental changes
• Weakness
Calcium loss
• Osteoporosis
• Kidney stones

Histamine Type 2 Receptor Agonists (H2 Blockers)
• Depression
• Liver damage
• Impotence
• Kidney problems
• Heart issues

Dangers of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)

The most commonly prescribed Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) are Nexium, Aciphex, Prevacid and Prilosec.

These are the most dangerous class of conventional acid reflux drugs that research suggest should not be used for extended periods.

This drug (especially in combination with the others mentioned above) places users at a much higher risk of deficiencies, inflammatory bowel conditions, arthritis, serious metabolic dysfunction and even death.

Good new though, there are many safe natural treatments available.  Adopting an Acid Reflux Dietary plan is the first step in the protocol.

For good digestive health it’s important to choose unprocessed, organic foods free from GMOs.  Also, increase your fibre intake and support healthy bacteria in your gut with probiotic-rich foods.

Take quality supplements if necessary; these can all help resolve symptoms.

For more information or to book an appointment please contact me.

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