Getting Real with Reflux

Majority of the people I see in my practice deal with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease on a daily basis. It’s reported that between 10-48% of people in Western countries suffer from the disease!

The main symptoms of GERD (reflux):

  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation of gastric acid into the lumen of the oesophagus (also commonly known as food reflux)
  • GIT discomfort

Symptoms can be so bad that quality of life is severely impacted, and also leading to reduced number of days at work.

GERD if left untreated, can lead to oesophageal stricture, GIT bleeding, Barrett’s oesophagus or even oesophageal adenocarcinoma. There is definitely nothing nice about GERD that’s for sure!

So what causes GERD?

A lot of the research on GERD has stated the major contributors of GERD is lifestyle and nutrition. Other factors are:

  • Age
  • Body mass
  • Smoking
  • Physical activity
  • Stress

When we start to look at your diet, the main culprits for aggravating reflux are:

  • tomatoes
  • foods high in fat
  • chocolate products
  • hot spices
  • citrus fruits
  • peppermint tea
  • coffee
  • carbonated beverages
  • alcohol

It would be worth noting down your foods that you’re consuming and when your symptoms are at their peak. Food diaries are a great way to manage and identify any patterns. You can download one here¬†Food_Mood_Poo_Diary

The way you eat food can also increase your symptoms. Make sure that you are NOT eating too quickly, big meals, between meals or just before sleep.

Other causes of GERD can be physical ones, such as hiatal hernia and Transient Low Esoghageal Sphincter Relaxation (TLESR). These can be identified by an endoscopy; this is a great way to identify gastritis or any other inflammation within the gastrointestinal system.

The common treatment for reflux is prescribing proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s). This prescription drug is used to decrease stomach acid (therefore reflux). Long term use of PPI’s isn’t recommended; and other problems can occur such as bacterial overgrowth (very common with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth sufferers). Eventually, your serum gastrin levels rise and symptoms can flare up again.

The most difficult task of coming off PPI’s is the rebound effect. This is where symptoms get worse before they get better.

There have been numerous studies on the effectiveness of melatonin. Melatonin is mostly known for it’s requirement to induce sleep. But did you know that majority of melatonin made is from your digestive tract?

Melatonin protects the gastric mucosa, reduces free radicals in stress induced ulcers, inhibits secretion of HCL and pepsin!

This makes melatonin ideal for treating GERD!!!

Studies found that 3mg of melatonin at night reduced symptoms of reflux. This particular study took 4 weeks to reduce symptoms.

If you are experiencing reflux and would like to reduce your symptoms naturally, fill out the contact form below.

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