Many people suffer from a condition called GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) and are often prescribed medication for high stomach acidity. But is this treating the real cause and is it the best treatment?
It is a well-documented fact that as we age we produce less hydrochloric acid in our stomach. This acid environment is the natural environment for our stomach so that proteins and other nutrients can be largely digested before passing into the small intestine. If we make less of it as we age, why are so many elderly people being increasingly prescribed more medications to lower stomach acid levels, when they are already low? Reflux medications are one of the highest selling medications to the elderly.
An interesting point to note is that these medications can temporarily mask some symptoms (of low stomach acidity), but once the medication is stopped, the symptoms often return and can be a lot worse than before.
Causes of reflux
When reflux occurs, a burning sensation or bitter, acid taste can be felt in the throat and mouth. This is largely as a result of a faulty esophageal sphincter valve, which is no longer separating the stomach from the esophagus effectively, thus allowing acid to move upwards. Whether stomach acid levels are normal or low, this will still occur if the valve is faulty.
Reasons for faulty valves
The main reason for malfunction of this sphincter valve is intra-abdominal pressure. This can occur due to:
- gut issues such as bloat, which causes pressure on the stomach
- being overweight
- consuming too many refined, processed carbohydrates
- bending over or lying down too soon after a meal
- eating too many spicy, fatty foods
- a bacterial overgrowth
How to treat reflux
- Reducing intra-abdominal pressure will help improve the integrity of the sphincter valve.
- Reducing intake of refined, processed carbohydrates
- Avoiding overeating
- Losing weight
- Avoiding lying down after meals.
- Avoiding spicy, fatty foods.
- Providing enzymes & digestives to promote better digestion if stomach acid levels are low.
- Being treated for bacterial overgrowth with herbs that knock out the pathogens.
Food for thought.