GERD affects many people close to us, some of them without knowing it. Here is a little bit more about the condition.
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a condition that involves the backflow of stomach acid to the tube that joins the mouth and stomach. The stomach lining becomes inflamed as a result.
Many people experience acid reflux on occasion. GERD is mild acid reflux that occurs often. Most people will experience a bout of acid reflux to the stomach occasionally. However, those with GERD may need medical help to control acid backflow.
Most people can manage the discomfort of GERD with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. But some people with GERD may need more potent drugs or surgery to ease symptoms.
Causes and Symptoms of GERD
GERD occurs when the Lower Oesophageal Sphincter (LES) does not function well. The LES is the circular muscle at the base of the stomach. Food rushes up the oesophagus if it does not open or shut properly. GERD may cause a person to regurgitate stomach contents. It can lead to breathing difficulties.
Risk factors for GERD
- Being overweight
The connection between obesity and health issues
such as heart disease and depression is intimate and well-known. Fewer people know that it has links with GERD too. Proper weight/ht management can ease heartburn.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy may cause the LES to relax. Hence, the digestive juices may rush up the
Hiatal Hernia occurs when a part of the stomach bulges through a hole in the stomach, called a hiatus. A health hiatus connects the oesophagus to the stomach. We do not know much about the condition, but it weakens the supportive abdominal tissue, making a person prone to
4.Connective Tissue Disorders
Having a connective tissue disorder increases one's risk of acid reflux through the oesophagus. These fall into two broad types, a hereditary category and another that arises because antibodies fight against it. They include:
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS)
- Epidermolysis bullosa (EB)
- Marfan syndrome
- Osteogenesis imperfecta
These health conditions cause inflammation, redness, pain and swelling.
Coping with the Symptoms
1. Watch the portions
Overeating can make the sphincter muscle at the bottom of the oesophagus hard to close, especially when food is high in fat. Eat in small amounts throughout the day instead of having three big meals.
2. Food and Timing
The stomach needs time to break food down, so it's advisable not to lie down for a nap immediately after eating. Note that lying down makes it easier for stomach contents to flow. Elevating the head eases this flow and digestion too.
Those with the condition should wait for two to three hours before lying down for naps. They must avoid bending or straining their backs and eating large meals before exercising.
3. Avoid wearing tight clothes
If you have acid reflux and wish to show off a little, do so when you don't have a meal appointment. Tight clothes put pressure on the tummy, which prompts it to regurgitate its contents.
Having GERD may result in related health complications, which will require routine management.
Esophagitis occurs when the oesophagus is irritated or inflamed. The inflammation causes reflux of food to the stomach. The signs of an inflamed Esophagus include difficulty swallowing, a sore throat and heartburn.
Benign oesophagal stricture involves narrowing or tightening the oesophagus, the tube responsible for transporting food and liquids from your mouth to your stomach. Note that benign growths are not cancerous.
Benign oesophagal stricture usually happens when stomach acid and other irritants rupture the oesophagus lining. Inflammation occurs, which causes the throat to constrict.
Oesophagal stricture is not harmful, but it can trigger issues such as difficulty swallowing. The narrowing of the oesophagus may make it difficult to eat—the likelihood of choking increases. When the entire oesophagus constricts, food cannot reach the stomach, which causes regurgitation up the throat.
This condition occurs when the cells in the oesophagus start to look like those in the intestine. They have sustained damage from the acid that flows from the stomach. The cells in the oesophagus begin to look abnormal because of long term exposure to it.
Gaining access to appropriate medication is costly and not always possible. However, GERD-friendly foods are easy to access and prepare. Here's how some of them can ease the condition.
High Fiber Foods
Acid Reflux has connections with foods high in fat or over-snacking. Those who snack frequently may find
constant hunger is a challenge to manage.
The solution? Eat foods high in fibre. These include oatmeal, couscous or brown rice. Root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and beets will keep you full for an
extended period while greens such as asparagus, broccoli, and green beans are fibre-rich.
One doesn't have to be a chemistry major, but having basic knowledge of the subject does help with managing GERD. We all know that food acid levels lie on a scale. The lower the pH level of the food, the higher its acidity.
Red meats like beef and duck, of course, are incredibly high in acidity. White meats like chicken are less so but
are still acidic.
The best Alkaline foods for a person with GERD to eat are bananas, melons, cauliflower, and nuts.
Foods that contain a lot of water can dilute stomach acid. Munch on celery, add a little watermelon to your diet or savour leek if you experience GERD.
Apple Cider Vinegar
There isn't enough research to prove that Apple Cider Vinegar works for GERD, but its fans swear that it eases the condition. It is a strong acid that irritates the oesophagus, so do drink it with meals.
The thought of lemon water may raise eyebrows because it is acidic. But a small amount of lemon juice and water helps to neutralize the acid in stomach contents. You can consume lemon, a little water, and honey.
You're probably familiar with resin but are less knowledgeable as to how it comes about. It originates from the Mastic Tree, responsible for Mastic Gum, a compound that eases GERD. Research shows that people who consumed it for two weeks lessened heartburn, indigestion, and stomach pains.
Can milk relieve heartburn? It depends on the milk in question. The lactose in full-cream milk can aggravate GERD, but non-fat milk is a buffer between acidic stomach contents and the stomach lining. It makes the food tolerable.
This root vegetable is alkaline, so it will relieve GERD by countering the acid in food. Anti-inflammatory, it eases irritation in the digestive tract.
This natural product is not regular liquorice; it is liquorice with the compound glycyrrhetinic acid removed. Glycyrrhetinitic acid is responsible for raising blood pressure.
DGL prompts the body's defence mechanisms to protect the stomach and oesophagal lining. It also eases heartburn and increases digestion. DGL raises the levels of the protective substances in the stomach and oesophagus. It also enhances the blood supply to the intestines.
If liquorice is not for you, chewing DGL tablets will help as well. They ensure complete healing of the digestive tract.
How to stop GERD without medicines
GERD is not easy to manage, but it is a challenge that one can conquer with patience, perseverance, and a little know-how, as are the strategies suggested in this article.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Michelle Liew