Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Causes of acid reflux and how to reverse it

Acid reflux is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints in health clinics.  The allopathic approach to acid reflux is to neutralise acid by putting in an antacid or an inhibitor to the proton ions or hydrogen.  It does not deal with the cause or driver of the reflux.  It is symptom control, and just controlling symptoms without addressing the root cause can brew a serious problem underneath. The common problems from prolonged proton pump inhibitor (PPI) and antacids like losec, omeprazole, prilosec, nexium or gaviscon is the neutralising of the acid!  In order to perform its digestive function properly, the stomach needs to contain adequate Hydrochloric acid.  Neutralising the already compromised production of Hydrochloric acid will further worsen the state of health, leading to problems like impaired mineral and vitamin absorption, depression, memory problems, zinc deficiency and osteoporosis.

The common causes of acid reflux are:
  1. Stress – when we are stressed, the body places no importance on digestion.  The body focuses on ‘running from the saber tooth tiger’.  In this day and age, we can go through stress over prolonged periods of time and this means shutting down the digestive process.  This creates poor motility and digestion and the lactic acid produced in this delayed process can move in a perverse direction creating acid reflux.
  2. H.pylori infection – this is a common bacterial infection that can lead to reflux.
  3. Acid and spicy foods consumed – typically tomatoes, chillies, citrus and paprika fall into this category.
  4. Food sensitivities – consuming foods that do not agree with each individual can lead to acid reflux.
  5. Consuming meals less than 3 hours before bed time – consuming food too close to bed time, especially a big meal can create stress in the digestive system as the esophageal sphincter has a large pressure put on it from a full stomach.
  6. Yeast infections – these increase the fermentation of food and production of gas in the stomach which can lead to burping and reflux.

Here are some strategies you can use to reverse acid reflux:
  1. Change your diet – eliminate acidic, spicy and deep fried foods.
  2. Identify your food sensitivities – one man’s meat is another man’s poison.  Identify your friends and foe.  Aim for personalised nutrition and food intake.  Your neighbour’s solution may or may not suit you.
  3. Take stock of your lifestyle – finish eating at least 3 hours before bed.  Eliminate alcohol, caffeine and smoking.
  4. Manage your stress – before eating calm your mind down, focus on the eating process.  Take 5 deep breaths and relax before starting on your meal and set your intention to properly chew your food. 
  5. Check to see if H.pylori is the cause of your reflux.

If you have done all of the following and still suffer from reflux, you need to restore the normal functioning of your gastrointestinal tract.  I use a combination of nutraceuticals tailored to each individual, herbs as well as dietary modifications to help you.