A-Z of Health G – Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease
Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is a digestive disorder. GORD occurs when stomach acid or, occasionally, flows back into your food pipe (oesophagus). Symptoms can be heartburn and a sour taste in your mouth
The LOS (lower oesophageal sphincter) is a bundle of involuntary muscle at the lower end of the oesophagus. When the LOS is closed stomach acid can’t travel backwards from the stomach. Poor LOS function can lead to GORD and exacerbate IBS.
Heartburn is caused when excess acid leaks into the oesophagus and causes a burning sensation near where the heart is located.
lifestyle and diet changes can help those suffering: –
These would be my top tips
- Stop smoking! – Smoking weakens the lower oesophageal sphincter, the muscle between the oesophagus and stomach that keeps stomach contents from flowing back into the oesophagus. The stomach is naturally protected from the acids it makes to help break down food. However, the oesophagus is not protected from the acid
- Lose weight – excess weight is a contributory factor
- Drink Water – dehydration is one of the leading causes of excess stomach acid. Water has a neutral pH, when your body has sufficient amounts of water, it can naturally regulate the acidity of the stomach.
- Avoid high fat foods – saturated fats delay stomach emptying boosting the risk of reflux symptoms.
- Animal derived protein sources are hard to digest, slowing down the digestion process. This can cause acids to irritate the oesophagus.
- Refined Carbohydrates – in the form of cakes, pastries etc. These contain high levels of preservatives which can irritate
- Chocolate, alcohol, tea and coffee can relax the oesophageal sphincter muscle, causing stomach acid to rise up into the oesophagus.
- Fried foods – foods high in trans fats slow down the digestive process and can cause digestive juices to travel back up the oesophagus.
- Certain foods are triggers:
- Citrus fruit (particularly on an empty stomach)
- Onions (raw)
- Spicy foods
- Avoid eating large meals – try to eat smaller portions more frequently – being very full” makes the stomach produce more acid to digest the large quantity of food, and because the stomach is full, acid has an even better chance of being pushed back up the oesophagus.
- Eat slowly – it takes your brain 20 minutes to tell your tummy that you are full! By eating slowly you should reduce the risk of getting to the ‘very full’ point. If you eat (and drink) too quickly you can take in additional air into the stomach causing an uncomfortable bloating feeling. This air can carry excess stomach acid into the oesophagus.
- Concentrate on eating – try not to do other things whilst eating – blood is pumped to the stomach to aid digestion. If you are moving around or typing this blood will also have to travel to those sites to work making the digestion process harder and slower and increasing the risk of excess acid.
- Posture whilst eating – try not to slouch whilst or after eating. In particular don’t lie down on a full stomach! Sit up straight and take some deep breaths to strengthen the diaphragm muscles.
Many of these A-Z health posts are linked and some issues keep cropping up, stress and obesity are the two most common. Stress is a huge influencer with digestive issues and how we are able to manage our external and internal stress is crucial for overall health – see A-Z post L – Long term stress.
About the author of this blog
Louise Mercieca is a multi award-winning author on children’s nutrition with her book ‘How Food Shapes Your Child’ winning the Parenting award in Janey Lee Grace’s Platinum awards.
Louise has also won a SBS or Small Business Sunday award from Theo Paphitis and was recently crowned as Queen of Child Nutrition in the #Queenof Twitter awards.
Louise has worked as a Nutritional Therapist for 8 years supporting hundreds of clients and does take on a limited number of personal coaching clients each month – contact Louise to discuss this. Louise has also created an accessible and affordable webinar schedule covering many topics discussed in this A-Z post series. https://www.louisemercieca.co.uk/webinar