When we eat our meals, the food passes through our mouth, down the food pipe (esophagus) and into the stomach. The food goes down the esophagus and enters the stomach. Once it enters the stomach, the stomach releases a lot of acids to help break up the food and metabolize them. Now between where the esophagus ends and where the stomach starts, there is a small muscle which works as a valve, known as a sphincter. This sphincter is supposed to perform the important function of letting the food from the esophagus enter the stomach but not let the food from the stomach reenter the esophagus.
Now ideally, the sphincter should not be letting the acidic mix which is present in the stomach come back up to the esophagus, but sometimes conditions arise where the sphincter isn't able to hold the food back. The most common cause is overeating, but in some people the sphincter itself doesn't function as well as it does in other people. Other causes of GERD are obesity and pregnancy as there is much pressure on the stomach which pushes the sphincter open, which causes the acid to enter the esophagus.
The most common symptoms include heartburn along with difficulty swallowing and a bad taste in the mouth. Other symptoms include pain in the middle of the chest and pain in neck, back and stomach.
What Foods to Avoid
The basic guideline here is to not eat foods that will lead to more acidic activity or a feeling of being 'too full'.
- Spicy and fatty, oily and fried foods.
- Citrus fruits like lemon and oranges as they have acids.
- Meats, especially red meat as they are too hard to digest.
- Alcoholic beverages as they are fermented and cause a feeling of being bloated.
- Other items such as coffee, peppermint, chocolate, tomatoes, sodas and energy drinks.
With proper care and attention the problem can be minimized and people with recurring acid reflux too will be able to enjoy good digestive health.