Due to the commonality of acid reflux, we tend not to take this health issue as seriously as we should. Long-term acid reflux can increase our risk for cancer and the medications commonly prescribed for acid reflux are just as dangerous if not worse than the condition itself.
Gastroesophageal reflux also referred to as acid reflux, heartburn, GERD or indigestion is very common among all ages, over 25% of Americans suffer from symptoms and issues related to acid reflux.
What are the Common Causes of Acid Reflux?
- Unhealthy processed diet rich in acidic and greasy foods
- Consuming foods that one is intolerant to causing chronic inflammation
- Hiatal Hernias
- Imbalance of acids within the stomach
- Poor absorption of excess dietary carbohydrates
- Not fully developed digestive system (common in babies)
- Malnutrition resulting in an imbalance of stomach acids common in elderly
- Diagnosis with H. Pylori
- Overweight or obese
- Consuming too much food at one time
- Smoking Cigarettes
- Chronic medication use can cause inflammation of the digestive tract
- Low blood levels of magnesium can cause a malfunction in the sphincter function
The Acid Reflux Symptoms Include:
- Warm or burning sensation in the upper chest and throat
- Difficultly sleeping, even waking up choking
- Foul smelling breath
- Cotton mouth
- Upset stomach
- Bloody vomit or stools
- Chronic inflammation in the throat and mid-section resulting in pain while swallowing or bending over
Breakdown of Acid Reflux
When the sphincter, a flap-like part of the esophagus does not function properly symptoms start to occur.
The sphincter is supposed to close after the food has gone past it, when acid reflux occurs it is because the sphincter fails to close all of the way and acid from the stomach moved into the esophagus causing several issues.
Chronic acid reflux is very dangerous and can cause major health concerns, including increased risk for cancer, permanent scarring of the esophagus, or being diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus, increased risk for cancer cell formation in the esophagus and sleep complications.
The American Cancer Society has reported a steady increase in diagnoses of esophageal cancer in America.
It is important to note that over the counter drugs may alleviate symptoms but they are associated with dangerous side effects including tight muscles, migraines, irregular heart rate, digestive distress, and increased risk to esophageal cancers.
I suggest learning about the causes of the reflux and making nutrition, lifestyle and behavior modifications as a natural alternative to medications that most people turn to initially because they are unaware of their dangerous side effects.
There are just a few main types of medications prescribed for heartburn and acid reflux. These medications include antacids, H2 Blockers (type 2 histamine receptor antagonist) and finally PPI’s (proton pump inhibitors.)
In some very severe cases, doctors will perform surgery that may result in symptoms coming back over time.
These medications aim to reduce the acid levels in the stomach which provides only short-term relief and it causes the body to produces abnormal levels of stomach acid in response to the medication suppressing stomach acid production.
Complications associated with the medications listed above include calcium loss, liver damage, cough, constipation, heart complications, kidney issues, stomach aches, vomiting, ulcers, depression, stomach cancer, inflammatory bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, and joint pain.
Acid Reflux Safe Foods and Nutrition Program
Acid reflux is effected by our gut health, specifically the healthy bacteria balance and inflammation.
Consuming foods that promote gut health will improve symptoms of acid reflux without the negative side effects that medications have.
Safe Foods Include: Kefir, bone broth, fermented foods, kombucha, apple cider vinegar, kale, collard greens, aloe vera, ginger, fennel, herbal teas, asparagus, cucumbers, avocados, squash, pumpkin, raw honey, wild caught salmon, and raw almonds.
The focus of a nutrition program to decrease symptoms of acid reflux should be on overall digestive health, starting by eliminating all processed foods.
Include organic, non-GMO, whole foods as the base of your food intake. Limit eating out due to hidden refined sugars and processed fats that are added to the meals. Focus on increasing your intake of probiotics, fiber, through foods and if needed fiber and/or probiotic supplements.
Grains should NOT be the center of your intake, grains (especially processed flour containing grains) can increase the bad levels of bacteria in the gut, instead, focus on increasing your consumption of fibrous vegetables and some fruits.
Consume at least half of your body weight in ounces of natural alkaline hydroxide water per day. The Hydroxide (OH-) will combine with the Hydrogen ions (H+) which causes the acidity and form water (H+ plus OH- equals H2O).
This will eliminate much of the excess acid causing the problems.
Limit or avoid these common trigger foods for acid reflux: alcoholic beverages, caffeine containing drinks like coffee, or energy drinks, artificial sweeteners, processed oils like vegetable or canola oil, hot and spicy foods, and fried foods.
Digestive enzymes can also increase nutrient absorption while improving the digestion process.
Lifestyle Modifications to Consider
- If you are having trouble sleeping raise the head of your bed with blocks or consider purchasing an adjustable bed, also avoid eating 2-4 hours prior to bedtime.
- Be active, exercise has a positive impact on our hormones and stress relief.
- Exercise portion control, overeating is a guaranteed way to put stress on your digestive process.
- Limit consumption of alcohol and quit smoking
- Help your body digest its food by chewing it multiple times in your mouth, digestion initiates in the mouth
Exhaust all natural acid reflux remedies that I have discussed in this article before considering medications.
Modify your diet, and lifestyle to treat symptoms naturally while reducing your risk for severe complications like cancer, surgery, or permanent scarring within the esophagus.
If you are experiencing subtle signs and symptoms be proactive to avoid alarming health issues.
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