Causes of Acid Reflux and Foods to Avoid
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Acid reflux disease, also known as gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs due to the coexistence of several medical and lifestyle conditions. Physiological factors that trigger GERD include lower esophageal sphincter (LES) hypotonia (the gradual weakening of the LES), along with retrograde flow of stomach contents into the esophagus, and the level of sensitivity of the esophageal mucus to the reflux content.
The food that you swallow travels down your throat and is pushed by contractions of the muscular esophagus. In the area where the esophagus joins the stomach a valve-like mechanism, known as lower esophageal sphincter (LES), is located. The closure of this muscle prevents stomach acid from backing up, or refluxing, into the esophagus.
LES malfunction is the first factor that causes and contributes to gastro-esophageal reflux disease. In a healthy individual, the LES relaxes only when food passes from the esophagus into the stomach. After the food passes into the stomach, the valve shuts off, keeping the stomach content and acid inside. However, when the LES is weak and doesn't close properly, acid can splash up into your throat causing painful burning sensation, called heartburn.
There are several factors/conditions, which can prevent the LES from being closed properly. These factors/conditions include genetic weakness, obesity and excessive fat ingestion. In addition to that, all muscles in the human body tend to sag as part of the aging process, including the LES.
The second factor, or rather the group of factors that causes gastro-esophageal reflux disease, are behavioral and lifestyle related. As mentioned above, a weakened LES is one of the direct physiological causes of acid reflux disease. Various food ingredients, drugs and nervous system processes can weaken this muscle, thus contributing to GERD. Foods that may contribute to acid reflux include orange juice, lemons and lemonade, grapefruit juice, tomatoes and tomato juice, French fries, sour cream, coffee and tea.
Acid reflux can also be the result of fungal yeast infection that builds up in the colon. When Candida albicans turn from yeast to fungi, they depress the immune system and produce more than 79 distinct toxins that may be responsible for many of the symptoms that Candida sufferers have including heartburn.
When Candida gets out of control, it breaks through the intestinal walls and travels throughout the body. It can attach itself to the genital areas, the mouth and the esophagus among many other parts of the body. When Candida goes out of control, it begins to ferment and reflux the contents of the stomach upward through the small intestines, through the stomach and then through the esophagus, causing infection, burning and damage to the esophagus.
What acid reflux food should I avoid?
This is a question most gastroesophageal reflux disease sufferers struggle upon. Promoting healthy nutrition that is based on avoiding certain foods while increasing the intake of others has the potential to confer significant long-term health benefits among acid reflux sufferers. Lifestyle and dietary alterations are considered to be an integral and inseparable part of any long-term holistic GERD treatment.
The foods we consume play an important role when it comes to keeping our body's delicate natural inner balance. Since certain foods and dietary habits have been found to directly and indirectly promote the aggravation of acid reflux, avoiding those foods and adopting specific dietary habits for optimal digestion while suffering from acid reflux could have a tremendously positive effect on your existing medical condition. The following are examples of these types of foods:
1. Coffee and other caffeine containing beverages lead to increased acidity, so avoid large amounts of coffee. Try to limit your daily coffee consumption to two cups or less. It possible, split your coffee cup into two half cups, and reduce coffee drinking before the bedtime.
2. Alcohol can irritate the stomach and relax the LES muscle, leading to increased acidity and reflux.
3. High-fat foods are among the biggest culprits behind GERD symptoms. They take longer to digest and not easily eliminated out of body, thus increasing the chances acid will splash up into your esophagus. The only exceptions are omega-3 fatty acids from fish and fish oil, which are in fact powerful anti-inflammatory agents.
4. Chocolate contains a great deal of caffeine and fat. This may increase acidity and worsen digestion and hence should be avoided. If you are a devoted chocolate enthusiast, go for dark, organic varieties, and eat no more then two to three tiny squares two to three times per week.
5. Milk and milk-based products that contain a big proportion of calcium should also be avoided before bedtime.
6. Peppermint, spearmint and other mints can worsen acid reflux symptoms. Avoid foods that contain strong mints, including mint-based herbal teas.
7. Acidic foods (such as oranges and tomatoes) and cruciferous vegetables (onions, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts) promote the opening of the esophageal sphincter, thus increasing acid reflux.
So what acid reflux food should you avoid?
With these dietary changes and a healthy motivation to alter your lifestyle, you can be on your way to overcoming gastroesophageal reflux disease and improving the quality of your life and well-being. Whatever your medical condition is, when you finally decide to improve your quality of life, you can literally choose to cure GERD and prevent its recurrence, by adopting the holistic approach. You will have the power to make it happen
This article is based on the book, "Heartburn No More" by Jeff Martin. Jeff is an author, researcher, nutritionist and health consultant who dedicated his life to creating the ultimate acid reflux solution guaranteed to permanently reverse the root cause of heartburn and acid reflux and naturally and dramatically improve the overall quality of your life, without the use prescription medication and without any surgical procedures. Learn more by visiting his website
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