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Defining Acid Reflux, Heartburn, and GERD_Final

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>> Welcome back. Have you ever had that terrible burning sensation in your chest or throat after having some spicy or fatty food? Or have you ever eaten something like a hot dog or nachos with jalapenos and right afterward wish you hadn't? Reflux is a miserable feeling. Unfortunately, it's a common problem. That uncomfortable burning feeling that can occur after eating is heartburn. It's often a symptom of acid reflux. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, over 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month. And some studies have suggested that more than 15 million Americans experience heartburn symptoms each day. Doctor's visits for acid reflux and a related condition known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease aka G-E-R-D or GERD are increasing rapidly. As you can see from this alarming statistic, many of your clients will have issues with these. Knowing about these conditions and how they relate to gut health is invaluable information to have as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. You may be wondering what's the differences between acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD. These terms are often used interchangeably which can be confusing. So let's go over what they actually mean and dispel the most common myths around these conditions. We'll begin with acid reflux. First, let's clarify that stomach acid is a good thing. We need it to digest our food. Hydrochloric acid also acts as an antiseptic to get rid of unwanted bacteria and pathogens. Stomach acid only becomes problematic when it finds its way outside the stomach in the places where it shouldn't be. Acid reflux occurs when the acid from the stomach refluxes or flows backwards up into the esophagus. The body knows that food is supposed to go down, even if you stand on your head, peristalsis is so strong that food keeps moving along your intestines. So why is it that stomach acid mixed with food sometimes flows in the wrong direction? The best way to explain this is with a mini anatomy lesson. The body has a built-in reflux response for when it quickly needs to get something out of the body. Think, vomiting, and burping, take in too much gas, or eat something that's contaminated with bad bacteria, don't worry, your body will activate the appropriate response to get it out. The lower end of the esophagus that meets the stomach has a sphincter that's built like a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter. This valve opens for food and drink to enter, and then closes once the contents have been ingested. And it's also the mechanism that controls the reflex response. In these situations, it's like an emergency ejection seat. Problems can occur when this valve opens at times when you're not eating, burping, or vomiting. Now the flow has reversed for no good reason. Food flowing back into the esophagus is problematic because now it's mixed with hydrochloric acid from the stomach. The stomach is lined with mucus and epithelial cells to protect it against the low PH of hydrochloric acid. But the esophagus isn't setup for the harsh reality of the stomach and why should it be. This organ is designed to propel food forward, not digest it. The tissue surrounding the esophagus is delicate. So when acid reaches this unprotected tissue, it burns. The agitation of this tissue is the feeling we know of as heartburn. Heartburn is the most common symptom of acid reflux and it actually has nothing to do with the heart. The name comes from the fact that the burning sensation feels like a pain in the center of the chest, which is often mistaken for a heart problem. The feeling is unpleasant but it's the body's way of trying to protect you. The esophagus has acid sensitive nerve endings to let you know that something bad is happening in that part of the body. So acid reflux isn't an issue of too much stomach acid, which is a common myth. Acid reflux is when there is a malfunction in the lower esophageal sphincter. But not all cases of heartburn are due to acid reflux. Heartburn can also be caused by stomach ulcers which are source caused by erosion in the lining of the GI tract. Another cause of heartburn can be from gastroparesis, a condition that prevents the stomach from properly emptying. Anxiety and stress can also cause the sensation of heartburn. This type of heartburn is often referred to as functional heartburn, since it's unrelated to stomach acid in the esophagus. Doctors aren't quite sure what causes functional heartburn, but many individuals report an increase in this feeling when they're under a lot of stress. Heartburn has been around for a really long time, but our modern diet and lifestyle are making it worse. Now that you know what acid reflux is, let's talk about what causes it. Acid reflux can happen for five main reasons, eating foods that weaken or irritate the muscular lining of the esophageal sphincter, magnesium deficiency, eating too much food too quickly, hiatal hernias, and bacterial overgrowth. Let's take a look at each of these causes in detail. Reason number one, certain foods can weaken or irritate the muscle of the lower esophageal sphincter. If your client suffers from acid reflux, you can support them by helping them crowd out foods that can irritate the lower esophageal sphincter, which include spicy foods, citrus, tomatoes, chocolate, alcohol, and coffee. These are foods that have a high acid content which means they can cause irritation. These foods decrease the pressure of the sphincter causing it to relax and this allows the contents of the stomach to travel in the wrong direction. A more comprehensive list of triggering foods can be found in the handout in this module called "Natural remedies to help with heartburn." Be sure to check that out. Peppermint and spearmint can also cause heartburn by directly irritating the tissue of the sphincter causing a burning sensation. Another trigger worth mentioning here is smoking. If a client is a smoker and has already laid-off the trigger foods but still experiencing heartburn, smoking could be the reason, yet another good reason to quit. Let's move on to number two, magnesium deficiency. Magnesium helps to relax the sphincter muscle at the bottom of the stomach so that the food can continue to make its way down the digestive tract. So when magnesium is depleted, this function is stunted, what can't go down must come up. This is one reason why Milk of Magnesia can be helpful for resolving acid reflux. It does neutralize some of the stomach acid. But remember the objective isn't to alter the amount of stomach acid but to simply get things moving in the right direction. Next up, number three, consuming a lot of food too quickly. When there is too much pressure or distension on the stomach, the body's natural mechanism for relief is to open the lower esophageal sphincter. Therefore, too much food or fat pushing on the belly can cause reflux. Imagine a button popping off a shirt that's too tight, eventually something has to give so that the pressure can escape. Makes sense, right? Another problem with overeating is that it can slowdown digestion. And when digestion is slow, it stays in the stomach for too long leaving the person prone to reflux. Again, this is a response to relieve the excess pressure from all the food. Now let's move on to number four, reflux can also be caused by hiatal hernia. A hernia is when an internal organ pushes into a part of the body where it doesn't belong. A hiatal hernia is caused when the stomach pushes into the diaphragm creating a bulge. Normally the alignment of the lower esophageal sphincter with the diaphragm creates pressure that results in a locking effect. This helps to keep the sphincter closed. That bulge I just mentioned is the perfect spot for stomach acid to build. And with the locking effect of the sphincter compromised, this acid can easily get pushed upward. Hiatal hernias can be caused by constant pressure on the muscles of the stomach. This could happen from excess coughing, or vomiting, or even from pushing too hard when trying to have a bowel movement. Pregnancy or obesity may also cause hiatal hernias. Basically, any physical stress that causes too much pressure on the stomach can result in a hernia. Lastly, let's discuss number five, low stomach acid. The biggest misconception about acid reflux and heartburn is that they're caused by high stomach acid. However, this is often not the case. In fact, acid reflux and heartburn can be caused by low stomach acid. Yup, you heard me right, low stomach acid. Heartburn can even be caused by food intolerances that develop due to poor digestion or bacterial overgrowth. When stomach acid is low, it can lead to bacterial overgrowth and cause reflux. When bacteria overgrow and populate in areas of the digestive tract that they're not supposed to be in, they create gas. Gas puts pressure on the stomach which lowers the pressure that keeps the lower esophageal sphincter closed. This can cause it to open up and send food and acid back up the wrong direction. It's estimated that for every 30 grams of carbohydrates, bacteria can produce up to 10 liters of gas. If there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine as in the case of SIBO, the pressure from the gas they create could cause heartburn. Your clients may also experience heartburn as a result of eating foods that aren't on the trigger list. This is because when stomach acid is low, digestion isn't optimal. And when food isn't fully digested, it can lead to intolerances. Stomach acid not only helps to digest food but it also triggers the release of other digestive enzymes. Okay, that was a lot of information. Let's review the main points we've covered so far. Acid reflux isn't usually result of too much stomach acid as commonly believed, rather it occurs as a result of the lower esophageal sphincter not working properly. This allows stomach acid to head at the wrong way back up the tube. And the most common symptom of acid reflux is heartburn. Acid reflux can occur as the result of eating foods that weaken or irritate the muscular lining of the esophageal sphincter, magnesium deficiency, eating a lot of food too quickly, hiatal hernias, and bacterial overgrowth. Now that we're solid on acid reflux, let's move on to GERD. This condition is a result of chronic reflux. In this case, chronic means an individual has experienced symptoms more than twice a week and his or her reflux is ongoing. The most common symptoms of GERD are heartburn, indigestion, belching, upset stomach, regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, and damage to the esophageal lining. With GERD, the esophagus is inflamed as a result of the damage caused by chronic reflux. GERD sufferers experience more instances of reflux and less lower esophageal sphincter pressure. As a result, sphincter is forced to open and relax. The pressure coming from the stomach can be a result of eating too much food or from bacteria fermenting carbs and sugars. Like with acid reflux, excess stomach acid isn't the culprit with GERD. And through research, we've learned that stomach acid declines with age, yet the incidents of GERD increases. This finding refused the common myth. Obesity is highly related to GERD. The higher the person's BMI, the higher the likelihood they'll also have GERD. Any excess weight can contribute as it adds pressure to the stomach. Because GERD is chronic, those who suffer from it are at a higher risk for cancer and Barrett's esophagus. Barrett's esophagus is a serious condition of the lower esophagus that involves damage and changes the lining of the tissue. Now that you know the difference between heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD, let's recap. In our modern society, there is a growing epidemic of these conditions. Acid reflux is when stomach acid flows the wrong way back up the tube from the stomach into the esophagus. Heartburn is the painful sensation in the chest that occurs as a result, and GERD refers to a condition that develops as a result of chronic reflux. This can cause damage to the esophagus along with painful and uncomfortable symptoms. Have you ever experienced heartburn? If so, did you notice a certain trigger that brought it on? What helped resolve the issue? Head over the Facebook group and join me as we discuss the topic. Thanks for watching, and see you soon.

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Duration: 12 minutes and 54 seconds
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Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
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Views: 7
Posted by: ninaz on Mar 27, 2018

Defining Acid Reflux, Heartburn, and GERD_Final

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