Gut Health - GERD
Here at Microbio Health, gut issues are one of the main health concerns that we hear from our customers, but with so many different gut conditions and symptoms it is hard to know what the right course of action is to help relieve these gut issues and get you back to feeling healthy.
In this blog the health condition we are going to look at is GERD (Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease). To find out a bit more on how the gut and whole digestive system works, and how to manage constipation and diarrhoea, check out our other blog: Gut Health - Constipation and Diarrhoea.
GERD stands for Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease and is described as a digestive disorder that affects the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) resulting in acid reflux and ‘heartburn’. It is a very common condition with up to 25% of people experiencing symptoms at least once a month.
Symptoms of GERD include:
Acid taste in your mouth
Pain or burning sensation in the middle of your chest
A persistent cough
The lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) is the circular valve or muscle that separates the stomach from the oesophagus, it acts a physical barrier preventing gastric contents from refluxing into the oesophagus. Most people with GERD have a weakness in the LES and therefore acid passes up into the oesophagus causing the above symptoms. (In extreme cases this can become a hiatus hernia, where by part of the stomach moves up into the chest. It is unclear if hiatal hernias are an initiating factor in GERD, however, hernias clearly play a role in sustaining GERD, accounting for chronicity of the disease.)
Some of key underlying factors of GERD include:
Connective tissue weakness
Use of certain medications, such as NSAIDs
Vagus nerve overstimulation
Poor digestion and overeating
Certain food and drinks, including chocolate, fried foods, alcohol and caffeine
Longterm lifestyle changes can significantly decrease the prevalence of GERD. Eating too much and being overweight can put pressure on the LES, as there is less space for the stomach. Therefore a good weight loss programme can lead to a complete resolution of symptoms in most overweight individuals with GERD.
Many people recognise that a certain food or drink may trigger GERD symptoms, therefore they may have a sensitivity to a certain food. Our Premium Food Intolerance Test checks over 200 food and drink ingredients for a sensitivity. Eliminating a known trigger food or drink such as chocolate, fried food, caffeine and alcohol can really improve symptoms. Also cigarettes can be a key factor in GERD so quitting smoking is highly recommended.
As well as that many individuals experience heartburn mainly at night. Aim to eat your evening meal 2-3 hours before going to bed, as going to bed with a full stomach increases the likelihood of reflux. Sleeping with the head elevated or lying on the left side while sleeping is also recommended as this position appears to alleviate reflux.
If you have followed all the above advice and still have GERD symptoms, then it is worth exploring if your symptoms could be caused by the presence of a stomach ulcer. It is very important to get any stomach ulcers treated by a doctor as complications of ulcers such as haemorrhage, perforation and obstruction can require immediate hospitalisation.
Stomach ulcers are often cause by infections such as Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori). H.pylori is a bacteria in the stomach that can suppress gastric acid production. Symptoms can include acid reflux, stomach or abdominal pains, nausea, bloating, belching and vomiting. A doctor will prescribe antibiotics to clear the bacteria infection. We also recommend taking a probiotic supplement (take at least 2 hours away from antibiotics) to increase the good bacteria within your gut and crowd out the bad bacteria such as H.pylori. As well as that, we also recommend vitamin A and the amino acid L-glutamine, which help to regenerate healthy epithelial cells, which line the digestive tract. A good overall supplement is BioCare GI Complex as it contains probiotics, Vitamin A and L-glutamine in one powder supplement.
One reason for GERD symptoms can be that the stomach is not emptying quick enough, therefore the stomach is full and gastric contents reflux back up the oesophagus. The reason for this could be lack of stomach acid and/or digestive enzymes within the stomach to break down the food properly.
ZINC: One of the most common reasons for a lack of stomach acid is zinc deficiency as hydrochloric acid is dependent on a sufficient intake of zinc. Therefore a Zinc Supplement can help the production of stomach acid to enable food to be broken down and pass through the stomach quicker and in turn then relieve GERD symptoms.
DIGESTIVE ENZYMES: Digestive Enzymes are powerful molecules to help break down foods into smaller particles and are produced in large amounts at different stages along the digestive tract. There are many different types of enzymes which break down different food types, such as protease for protein, lipase for fats, lactase for lactose in dairy products and amylase and alpha galactosidase for carbohydrates. A broad spectrum digestive enzyme complex, including the above enzymes, can help breakdown our food quicker therefore relieving GERD symptoms.
- Lamberts Digestizyme Capsules
- Udo's Choice Ultimate Digestive Enzyme Blend
- Biocare Polyzyme Capsules
BOTANICAL MEDICINES: Botanical Medicines such as demulcent herbs help soothe irritated tissue. In the gastrointestinal tract, these substances may help relieve irritation in the oesophagus and stomach associated with GERD. This include Slippery Elm (ulmus fulva), Licorice (glycyrrhiza glabra) and Marshmallow (Althea officinalis).
Biocare Slippery Elm Intensive Powder is a unique high potency botanical complex with slippery elm, liquorice and marshmallow to support and soothe the digestive system. It can be used to soothe GERD as well as heal stomach ulcers, H.pylori, and respiratory tract infections and inflammation. The slippery elm and marshmallow coat and soothe the digestive tract while the liquorice increase mucus and reduces inflammation. It also provides zinc and gamma oryzanol which balances stomach acid secretions. This is a unique combination of nutrients in just the right balance to naturally support and soothe digestion, whilst providing potent antioxidant support.
An imbalance in the microflora can be a key underlying factor of GERD. The microbiome consists of roughly 100,000 billion viable bacteria, but sometimes this can be imbalanced and we can have too much of one type of bacteria and not enough of another. Therefore supplementing with probiotics can have a beneficial effect on GERD symptoms. Browse our extensive range of probiotics here.