GERD GERD GERD, GERD’s the word! There is an interesting part of a book that I read and I wanted to mention. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease…also known as GERD, is rather painful and is caused by a backward flow of stomach contents which includes stomach acids. Nearly half of all cases of indigestion is GERD due to the malfunction of your lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The pain is described as a burning sensation behind the breastbone and travels up your throat. It’s worsened by a meal or by lying down. Sometimes…people confuse this with a heart attack 😦
So what causes the malfunction of your LES? Two reasons why…one, you may have had structural damage from constipation, and two, temporary weakening. You can take a wild guess what these two reasons are related to….diet! A researcher at Yale University believes that 90% of all GERD cases are a direct result of constipation. When your constipated, you strain and when you strain, your pushing your stomach from its normal position in to your chest. This forces an opening in your muscular diaphragm through which the esophagus passes creating a hiatal hernia. So since part of your stomach is now in your chest cavity, every time you inhale, pressure is exerted on the stomach pulling acid up in to the esophagus. Constipation is a result of not consuming enough fiber rich foods. Hint: Animal foods contain no fiber! Carrying extra pounds of abdominal fat can also force the stomach in to the chest cavity and the obvious solution to this would be to reduce your weight. Medications may also cause LES dysfunction
You can cause long-term damage to the LES from years of constipation. Short term LES dysfunction occurs by eating these certain foods:
High-fat foods aka fried foods
Cigarettes and Alcohol
Onions, Cucumbers, green peppers and radishes – this doesn’t mean you have to stop eating these foods folks, it just temporarily weakens the sphincter but if you cook them it it gets rid of the substances that cause indigestion.
Chocolate – because of its high fat content
Fruit Juices – people experience heart burn as result of direct irritation of the tissues of the esophagus and stomach rather than by lowering LES pressure. Eating citrus fruit whole doesn’t cause this irritation because they contain the whole fruit fibers.
So whats the big deal? Well, GERD causes many other health problems such as deep ulcers, dental erosions, mouth ulcers, loss of taste, mouth pain, sinusitis, otitis media in children, ear pain and inflammation, asthma, chronic cough, bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, laryngitis, chronic hoarseness, throat inflammation, vocal cord ulcers, non-cardiac chest pain.
Dont reach for an antacid just yet! All medications cause side effects. The pills that stop the production of stomach acid are the worst ones. They may cause mental changes, increased estrogen activity (causes enlarged breast even in men), interference with metabolism and other medications and long-term use of antacids may cause stomach cancer.
What should I do to get rid of GERD? Well Dr. John McDougall recommends – Adopting a plant based diet, low in fat and high in fiber, this will help you reduce your weight if this is also a reason why you have GERD. Eat small meals frequently to prevent overdistending your stomach, stop drinking coffee – even decaf, raise the head of your bed 4 to 6 inches, stop all unnecessary medications that may be causing GERD. People with sensitive stomachs should avoid eating uncooked onions, green peppers, cucumbers, radishes, fruit juices and hot spices. Antacids should only be used as a last resort.
For more info on GERD and many other digestive isses such as bad breath, indigestion, ulcers, colitis, diverticulitis, gallbladder disease, hemorrhoids, constipation and IBS I would pick up Dr. McDougalls book “Digestive Tune-Up”.