Chris Kresser posted about common misconceptions about heartburn and severe acid reflux syndrome (otherwise known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD). The myths surrounding these causes and treatment are perpetuated by the multi billion dollar pharmaceutical companies that profit from average joes looking for a solution.
More than 60 million prescriptions for GERD were filled in 2004. Americans spent $13 billion on acid stopping medications in 2006. Nexium, the most popular, brought in $5.1 billion alone – making it the second highest selling drug behind Lipitor.
Unfortunately most of the medication out there, be it over the counter or prescribed, only treat the symptom and not the cause. They provide momentary relief while the underlying cause goes unsolved but as long as you keep refilling their meds, that’s no concern of theirs. First off, the misconception that too much stomach acid is the cause of GERD cases is unfortunately incorrect. Almost everyone diagnosed with this syndrome has low stomach acid. The problem occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens when it’s not supposed to:
The LES normally opens wide to permit swallowed food and liquids to pass easily into the stomach. Except for belching, this is the only time the LES should open.
If the LES is working properly, it doesn’t matter how much acid we have in our stomachs. It’s not going to make it back up into the esophagus. But if the LES is malfunctioning, as it is in GERD, acid from the stomach gets back into the esophagus and damages its delicate lining.
Here’s the key point. It doesn’t matter how much acid there is in the stomach. Even a small amount can cause serious damage. Unlike the stomach, the lining of the esophagus has no protection against acid.
What causes the LES to open? Increased intra-abdominal pressure brought on by “bacterial overgrowth and maldigestion of carbohydrates.” Research also shows that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may also be caused by bacterial overgrowth.
So, the more undigested carbohydrate you have in your gut, the more hydrogen gas bacteria will produce. The more hydrogen gas is produced, the more bacterial overgrowth will occur. And the more bacteria you have in your gut, the more gas will be produced by fermentation of undigested carbohydrate. This becomes a nasty vicious cycle.
What can you do to treat heartburn and GERD?
Deadlift 1×5 or Wendler