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Overcoming heartburn once and for all


Many adults experience symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn on a daily basis, and in Western countries, up to 30% of adults experience symptoms on a weekly basis. It is also very common here in Nigeria as there are more than 1.5 million cases each year.

Normally when we eat, food moves from the mouth goes through the oesophagus till it eventually reaches the stomach, from there it goes on into the small and large intestines where nutrients are absorbed and finally, it makes its way to the rectum and unabsorbed waste exits the body through the anus. Now, this movement of food is supposed to be unidirectional meaning that this movement should only flow one way.

Acid reflux is the result of acidic digestive juices from the stomach flowing back up into the oesophagus. Acid reflux happens more than twice a week is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, is a more advanced, chronic form of acid reflux. This acid reflux can irritate the lining of your oesophagus. Although occasional acid reflux won’t kill you, it should still be taken seriously. If left untreated, chronic acid reflux or GERD could lead to complications such as Oesophagitis, which is an inflammation of the oesophagus that can lead to bleeding and oesophageal ulcers. It can also cause oesophageal strictures or Barrett’s Esophagus which is a condition that increases your risk for developing oesophagal cancer, which is in-fact deadly.

What causes GERD? Well, According to Dr Mark Hyman, “There’s a whole series of causes, everything from what you are eating, to your lifestyle, to stress, to smoking, caffeine, alcohol, to bacteria in your gut, to food sensitivities—all these things can trigger acid reflux.”

In addition, certain bad habits such as eating right before bed, eating too much, being overweight can push your stomach up into the diaphragm causing reflux. Chronic stress affects the nerves in your stomach, making it impossible to process the food properly. This will cause food to go up instead of down.

How do you know if you have GERD? The most common symptoms associated with this disease include a burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), usually after eating, which might be worse at night. Chest pain, difficulty swallowing, regurgitation of food or sour liquid, a sensation of a lump in your throat are also reported symptoms. It is important to know that some people that do have GERD may never know it because they show no symptoms, while others may not necessarily show the typical symptoms and just usually present with chronic cough, worsening asthma, laryngitis, hoarseness of voice, or feeling of something stuck in the oesophagus. This is known as Atypical GERD.

Certain foods such as spicy foods, certain hot spices are known to irritate the oesophagus and cause heartburn, High-fat foods, particularly those that contain trans fats, can cause reflux because of the large amounts of acid required to digest them. Try to avoid very hot foods and liquids. Consuming very hot substances have been linked to stomach and intestinal ulcers, which can intensify the symptoms of reflux. Both peppermint and chocolate contain chemicals that can stimulate the release of stomach acids while also relaxing the smooth muscle sphincter between the stomach and oesophagus, often resulting in acid reflux and heartburn.

After a proper medical diagnosis from a doctor, your doctor would likely prescribe medications to treat GERD. Medications used to treat GERD include antacids which are used to neutralize stomach acids and Proton Pump Inhibitors which inhibit acids by suppressing natural secretion. Both medications provide temporary relief, however, note that it does not work to address the underlying cause of the symptoms.

Below are some tried and tested tips which you can incorporate into your diet for more long term relief.
-Digestive Enzymes: Help foods fully digest and nutrients absorb properly.
-Probiotics: Add healthy bacteria to balance the digestive tracts and crowd out bad bacteria that can lead to indigestion, leaky gut and malabsorption of nutrients.
-Chamomile tea: Helps to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, supporting healthy gut functioning.
-Ginger tea: Ginger is great for digestive support and can relieve symptoms of acid reflux and GERD.
-Papaya leaf tea: Papain, an enzyme found in papaya, aids in digestion by breaking down proteins.
-Magnesium complex supplement – Is effective at treating heartburn symptoms.
-Raw Organic apple cider vinegar: raw ACV mixed in with water before each meal helps calm the stomach and supports digestion and heals GERD naturally.
-Organic baking soda: Mix a spoonful in a glass of water, stir, and drink before it stops fizzing.
-Organic Aloe Vera: Aloe vera is commonly used to calm an upset stomach, diarrhoea, and redness associated with bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis. Inner Aloe vera leaf gel supports digestion and is another great alternative for soothing acid reflux.

Disclaimer: The medical information provided on here by Dr. Nini Iyizoba is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment


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