Role of alkaline water in management of ulcer, dyspeptic pain, hiatus hernia
Causes of dyspeptic pain, gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer, heartburn and hiatus hernia. These conditions – dyspeptic pain, gastric and duodenal ulcers, heart burn (reflux oesophagitis) and hiatus hernia – have one common cause. This common cause is dehydration and this is what I intend to show in this article. In doing so, I shall also look at the role of alkaline water in the management of these conditions.
The Anatomy of the Gastrointestinal Tract (GIT).The Gastro Intestinal Tract is a long tubular structure, which extends from the mouth (the inlet) to the anus (the outlet). Along the course of this tube, at the end of the oesophagus is a sac-like structure – the stomach. Whatever enters into the mouth empties into the oesophagus to be conveyed to the stomach. Two valves control the emptying of the contents of the oesophagus into the stomach. The first is at the junction of the oesophagus and the stomach and the second valve is a thickening of the diaphragm at the point where the oesophagus enters the stomach. This is at the diaphragmatic hiatus. These valves also restrict the back flow of stomach contents into the oesophagus. At the other end, the stomach opens into the first part of the small intestine known as the duodenum; located at this point is the pyloric valve, which controls the emptying of the stomach contents into the duodenum.
Situated along the length of the GIT are special cells organized into tissues and organs which secrete hormones, enzymes, acids, buffer solutions etc, for the digestion of food, absorption of digested food and evacuation of wastes. For instance, the pancreas located at the curve of the duodenum opens into the duodenum. Its products include insulin, glucagon, enzymes and a sodium bicarbonate alkaline solution, which neutralizes the acidic stomach contents. There are four layers in the wall of the stomach.
Moving from the outer layer inward, you have the peritoneum, the muscle layer, the glandular layer and the mucus layer. The mucus layer is the innermost layer which is 98 per cent water held in place by a matrix of cells, which make up the remaining two per cent. The mucus layer protects the wall of the stomach against the acidic content of the stomach. When solid food matter enters into the stomach, the cells of the stomach release hydrochloric acid, which breaks down the protein and other solid matter into a homogenous fluid. The hydrochloric acid in the stomach is corrosive and could destroy the walls of the stomach.
However, this does not happen because the glandular cells below the mucus layer secrete sodium bicarbonate into the mucus layer, which acts as a buffer zone. As acid tries to pass through this buffer zone it is neutralized by the sodium bicarbonate forming a neutral salt – sodium chloride and water. This salt is eventually washed off the mucus layer by backwater from the blood vessels in the muscular layer of the stomach. Much water is needed for the production of the sodium bicarbonate buffer and to keep the mucus layer thick and functioning well. This is why it is advisable to drink two glasses of water about one hour before a meal. It is this water that is poured into the mucus layer when solid food comes into the stomach with the release of hydrochloric acid. This layer protects the stomach wall from the acidic stomach content. This function of the mucus layer can only be effectively carried out if there is adequate amount of water in the system.
When the water is inadequate like in a state of dehydration, the water in the mucus layer will be depleted making the layer thin. More importantly the sodium bicarbonate buffer solution will be in short supply and unable to neutralize all the hydrochloric acid in the stomach content.
The result is that some acid will eventually pass through the mucus layer to the other layers of the stomach. The acid being corrosive destroys these unprotected layers giving rise to what is known as dyspeptic pain. When this condition becomes chronic the acid will ‘eat’ into the underlying muscular layer and form an ulcer. Long before the development of an ulcer the patient complains of pain. This should be considered as a sign of local dehydration in the GIT.
At least two glasses of water drunk one hour before meals should prevent this pain and eventual ulcer formation. It is water drunk before a meal that will be poured into the mucus layer that protects against ulcer. The water you drink while eating does not act to protect against dyspeptic pain and ulcer formation.
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