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Acid Reflux; The Main Causes and How to Fix It.

Acid reflux, indigestion and heartburn are more often than not caused by either too little stomach acid or stomach acid residing in the wrong place, such as the oesophagus.

Chronically low levels of stomach acid can be harmful in the long run, leading to maldigestion, malabsorption (this is when we don’t absorb all the lovely nutrients that we eat), and malnutrition. Which can predispose to a wide range of serious conditions.

Common causes of low stomach acid:

  • Ageing: As we age, stomach acid levels do not increase, in fact, for most people acid decreases with age.

  • Vitamin deficiency: this may lead to low acid in the stomach. These deficiencies can be caused from stress, smoking, alcohol or inadequate dietary intake.

  • Stress: This can be a chicken and egg scenario as chronic stress may also decrease stomach acid production.

  • Infection: A bacterial infection known as H. pylori can also result in lowered stomach acid if left untreated.

Symptoms include:

  • Belching

  • Upset stomach

  • Bloating/Gas

  • Undigested food in stool

  • Sense of fullness

  • Regurgitation of stomach contents

  • Anemia

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Sore throat

  • If you are not absorbing enough protein and essential minerals and vitamins you may also notice symptoms such as weak fingernails, thinning hair and fatigue.

How do we fix acid reflux?

To get to the bottom of this issue you need to naturally balance the PH level of your stomach. There are a few ways that natural remedies can help you improve your digestive function and stomach acid levels.

1. Avoid the foods that cause your symptoms. Some of the more common ones are coffee, chocolate, sugar, alcohol, spicy foods, carbonated drinks and citrus foods. These foods commonly weaken and irritate the LES (lower oesophageal sphincter). I would recommend keeping a food diary to see if you can pinpoint acid flare up after certain meals.

2. Eat smaller meals and chew your food thoroughly. Step 1 of digestion happens in the mouth when we chew! If you are eating while working/writing back to emails/minding kids/on the go, this can also slow down digestion too. Your body can either digest food or deal with stress, it is very difficult to do both together.

3. Wear loose-fitting clothes that does not squeeze the abdomen.( We have all experienced that skinny jean bloat!)

4. Taking apple cider vinegar right before your meals is a great natural remedy. One tablespoon in a small amount of water should do the trick. (Just be careful of your teeth has ACV is very acidic, you can take this through a straw too)

5. Stimulating digestive enzymes before meals will help you to fully break down the proteins and nutrients in your meal: Starting the day with Pineapple/kiwi/mangoes, having a rocket/leafy green salad with your meals or drinking fennel tea in-between meals, are easy ways to trigger digestive enzymes. You can also take a digestive enzymes supplement before meals too.

6. Supplementing with probiotics – can be a great way to help heal your gastrointestinal tract and help fight acid reflux. Probiotics help to 'feed' the healthy gut bacteria. These amazing little guys help us to digest our meals. Stress, antibiotics, daily medications (like the pill!) can deplete gut health.

7. Herbal Teas: Chamomile, fennel and marshmallow teas are all particularly good at helping reflux. They help 'soothe' the lining of your GI tract and also help the nervous system with stress. Have 1-2 cups per day, in-between meals. Avoid ginger, green tea, coffee and peppermint tea, as these can make reflux worse.

8. Herbal Tonics: We have a fantastic range of herbs, such as, dandelion, fennel, ginger, chamomile or milk thistle in the clinic to support gut healing and reflux. Often a person will need more than just one herb to help to resolve the issue and reflux is usually a combination of stress + poor gut heal + acid + bacterial infection etc.. We stock 300 herbs in the clinic and make up personaisled tonics for exactly what you need i.e. YOU IN A BOTTLE! Many of these are bitter herbs and can be found in herbal teas.

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