What is acid reflux and how it is formed, and what factors that participate to form or relieve it is what we will discuss now.
The first organ with storing capacity in the digestive tract is the stomach. The stomach secretes plenty of acid to partially digest proteins, the food in the stomach is ground and admixed with its acid content. The 2 ports of the stomach are attached to 2 tubes, the upper one is the esophagus that carries food from the throat to the stomach, and the lower one is the jejunum that represents the first part of the small intestine.
Food is allowed only to pass up-down thanks to 2 valve like muscles that are located at the end of the upper tube (esophagus) and the beginning of the lower tube (jejunum), they both stay tightly closed and only open to allow food in or out of the stomach in the up-down direction.
If the muscle of the esophageal sphincter weakens and allows stomach acid to splash up into the esophagus, one feels heartburn, chest discomfort, and bitter fluid flowing up into the mouth, if the stomach juice trickles into the breathing canals, hoarseness, cough, and even shortening of breath can occur, which are the symptoms of GERD (GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease).
These symptoms may be even aggravated by the weakening of the lower sphincter which allows reflux of the jejunum contents including bile acids into the stomach thus increasing its acidity, and this may be seen with people with gall bladder disorders.
Weakening of the muscle sphincters can be induced by factors other than food including some habits and way of living:
* Tobacco in all forms : Nicotine weaken the sphincter muscle
* Swallowing air through Chewing gum and hard candy leads to belching and reflux.
* Postural : lying down or bending over after eating, and sleeping position ( head of the bed should be elevated 6-8 inches)
* Late evening snacks
* Large portion size
The following foods aggravate acid reflux and should be avoided :
* Fatty/Oils : Fries - Creamy foods or soups - Salad dressing ; oil & vinegar
* Fruits : Orange juice - Lemon - Lemonade - Grapefruit juice - Cranberry juice - Tomato
* Vegetables : Mashed potatoes - French fries - Onion, raw
* Peppermint and spearmint
* Dairy : whole milk - milk shake - ice cream - cottage cheese;regular
* Grains : Macaroni and cheese - Spaghetti with sauce
* Sweets&Desserts : Butter cookie;high fat - Brownie - Doughnuts - Chocolate - Corn ships
* Beverage : Liquor - Wine - Coffee - Tea
* Most fast foods
Some foods irritate an inflamed lower esophagus and may need to be limited and consumed with discretion, they include :
* Fruits : Orange juice, low-acid - Apple Cider - Peach - Blueberries - Strawberries - Grapes - Cranberries, dried
* Vegetables : Garlic - Onion, cooked - Leeks - Sauerkraut - Scallion
* Meat : Hot dog - Ham - Fish, fried - Eggs, fried - Scrambled Eggs, in butter - Tuna salad - Chicken salad
* Dairy : Yogurt - Milk, 2% or skim - Cheddar Cheese - Mozzarella cheese
* Grains : Garlic bread - Muffin - Granola cereal
* Beverages : Beer (alcoholic&non-alcoholic)-Non-alcoholic wine - Cola
The safe foods for acid reflux people includes :
* Fruits : Apple ( fresh, dried, and juice) - Banana
* Vegetables : Baked potato - Broccoli - Cabbage - Carrots - Green beans - Peas
* Meat : Ground beef, extra-lean - Steak, London Broil - Chicken breast, skinless - Egg whites - Egg substitute - Fish, no added fat
* Dairy : Cheese, feta or goat - Cream cheese, fat-free - Sour cream, fat-free - Soy cheese, low- fat
* Grains : Bread, milt-grain or white - Cereal, bran or oatmeal - Corn bread - Graham crackers - Pretzels - Rice, brown or white - Rice cakes
* Beverages : Mineral water
* Fats / Oils : Salad dressing, low-fat
* Sweets / Desserts : Cookie, fat-free - Jelly beans - Red licorice - Potato chips, baked
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