Search
Search
Generic filters

Ready to change your life?Start Now! Contact Us

Your Burning Questions About Heart Burn Answered

July 20, 2021

By Duke Lifestyle & Weight Management Medical Team

GERD is the medical term for Acid Reflux, and the common description is’ heartburn.’ This condition has nothing to do with anyone’s heart burning. GERD is the acronym for gastroesophageal reflux disease. For various reasons, the stomach’s acidic contents leak into the esophagus, where acidity is not tolerated by this tissue. When this happens, one experiences acid burning on the lining of the esophagus. Many people suffer from GERD, and several ways exist to improve or eliminate the symptoms.

” All disease starts in the gut”
Hippocrates (the Father of Medicine)

Understanding the Basics of the Gut-Brain Connection

Here are some common questions people have when trying to understand pH levels in the stomach and GERD and ways to improve this condition:

Question: Why does our stomach environment remain acid when we eat foods?

Answer: The stomach is at an acidic pH level of 2-3, whereas a neutral pH level is about 7, which is close to the pH level of our blood. An acidic environment in the stomach is the best environment for absorption and assimilation of the nutrients we ingest. In this environment, proteins can be broken down into parts that we can absorb for nutrition. This acid environment is also beneficial for absorbing other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that are co-factors in many biochemical pathways to keep your body running efficiently, especially while working to release extra pounds.

Question: Are there other benefits to having an acidic environment in our stomachs besides absorption of nutrients?

Answer: Yes, an acidic stomach functions as one of the initial processes of immune defense.
Another very important function of an acidic environment of the stomach is an initial line of defense against bacteria or viruses that we might encounter when eating or drinking. The acidic stomach takes away those bacterial and viral proteins and renders them harmless to the body, helping prevent infections. The acidic stomach assists our defense ability through our nose with the hairs and mucous helping trap airborne bacteria or viruses. Salivary antibodies in our mouths are another assisting line of defense. Our bodies are always working to keep us well.

Question: How does normal digestion occur?

Answer: The answer is in the physiology of digestion. First, LES, the Lower Esophageal Sphincter, is a circular muscle at the bottom of the esophagus. It is located at the junction of the stomach and is made up of smooth muscle. The LES is a muscle that sometimes contracts and closes the space between the esophagus and the stomach and sometimes stays open for short periods. The LES serves as a barrier so that acid-containing stomach contents normally do not come in contact with the esophagus. When functioning properly, it naturally only opens long enough to allow food to pass through.

Question: What happens when the LES (Lower esophageal sphincter) stays open for too long?

Answer: If the timing for the opening mechanism after swallowing is disrupted, it can stay open for too long. Often extra weight in the middle of the body creates pressure on the stomach, and LES is forced to open too long mechanically. Foods, drugs, and medical conditions can cause this laxity as well.

Question: Are there other contributing factors to treating GERD?

Answer: Yes, eating late at night and then lying down flat with a full stomach can contribute to the upward flow of acid contents of the stomach into the esophagus. Combined with lying down, the effect of gravity and excess acid will weaken the LES and worsen GERD. Spicy or acidic foods like tomato sauces that stimulate digestive juices and lower pH levels can contribute to GERD symptoms in some people.

Question: What ways to avoid GERD or acid reflux, i.e., heartburn?

Answer: Healthy eating changes such as:

  • Avoiding spicy foods, especially late at night or during evening meals
  • Avoiding upside-down positions after a meal
  • Avoiding alcohol if you experience GERD symptoms
  • Smoking tobacco

Lifestyle changes such as:

About Medical Weight Loss at the Duke Lifestyle & Weight Management Center

If you want to lose weight and have struggled to do so on your own, we can help. Our experts help people to lose weight for many reasons, such as:

  • Your weight increases your risk for a medical condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease.
  • You want to lose weight to improve one of these conditions, like sleep apnea or osteoarthritis.
  • You do not qualify for weight loss surgery.
  • You might be interested in weight loss surgery but are not ready to take that step.
  • You had weight loss surgery and are now struggling to maintain the weight loss.
  • You want to move more easily, feel more vibrant, or look better.

Make an Appointment Today

SUGGESTED POSTS

The Essential Posture You Won’t Learn in Most Yoga Classes

By Carol Krucoff, C-IAYT, E-RYT Relieve Pain and Enhance Health with Seated Mountain Pose One of the most helpful yoga poses for modern life is never taught in most yoga classes. Seated Mountain Pose teaches the essential skill of sitting properly in a chair, and--as a yoga therapist--I’ve seen ...

READ MORE

Ten Tips for Successful Habit Change

1. Connect your new habit to your best self Deep motivation for change comes from connecting your habits to what you most want for optimal health and how that supports you in being your best self. 2. Create a 3-6 month goal Three to six ...

READ MORE

Ten Steps for Awareness of Breathing Practice

A person typically takes around 22,000 breaths per day. So, bringing your attention to this occurrence for a few minutes daily can provide many health benefits. Furthermore, pausing for a short breathing break is a great way to enjoy a quick refresher during a hectic day. Conscious breathing or ‘breath awareness’ ...

READ MORE
BACK TO POSTS

For more information about

Duke Integrative Medicine and our various services and programs, please join our mailing list.


error: Content is protected !!