Feel the Burn…Acid Reflux
Discomfort, burning & pain. We hear it all too often around this time of year. Is this something you should ignore? Is this something you should live with? No.
Eating should not be a discomfort or something that you dread. More importantly continued acid reflux can lead to Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD).
Before we get into the nitty gritty, it is important to firstly remember that our stomach makes this wonderful substance known as stomach acid or hydrochloric acid. We need to have this potent stomach acid for two main reasons.
Firstly, everything we eat, drink or chew has likely come in contact with bacteria. We may not see it or taste this but the bacteria is present. If we didn’t have stomach acid this bacteria would have a one way ticket into our body and we would likely feel the effect of this by being unwell. Stomach acid is our body’s way of cleansing all our food and drink to make sure it is bacteria free. Stomach acid needs to be harsh. It needs to destroy what may harm us.
Secondly, our digestion starts in our mouth, by chewing. This is our mechanical part of digestion and it is so important if we are trying to squeeze as much goodness out of the food we eat. A big hearty steak will require more mechanical digestion than eating a delicate grape. When we do not chew our food well or long enough we are not allowing it to go through this important mechanical digestion process. We are putting more pressure on the stomach to break this down. For this reason, we need to have the right amount of stomach acid to do this. Too little chewing and too little stomach acid results in undigested food moving through your digestive system. Undigested food does not provide you with as much nutrition; your cells are not able to absorb large particles of food.
In summary, we need adequate stomach acid for protection against bacteria and for chemical digestion, so that we can absorb nutrients from the food we eat.
So where does it go wrong? There are several reasons for acid reflux but the most common misconception is that people often think acid reflux is due to excess acid. Understandably, that is how it may feel. Often this is not the case, in fact it is the opposite. When you don’t have the right amount of stomach acid the stomach doesn’t close or shut itself off during digestion. It is like leaving the lid off the blender. What you experience is acid creeping up into the oesophagus. The tissue in the oesophagus is extremely delicate and not designed to withstand such strong acid. Hence the burning and uncomfortable feeling. There are a few reasons for inadequate stomach acid production or hypochlorhydria and it is vital that you identify the cause of yours.
Common symptoms :
- Upper abdominal pain
- Vomiting (occasional)
- Feeling full quickly