Before we talk about the myths surrounding acid reflux, let’s look at the truth behind what causes it in the first place. There’s a small muscle in your chest called the lower esophageal sphincter muscle, also known as LES, which opens up as you eat so food can move to your stomach. However, when you’re not eating, this muscle should be closed tight. This stops your stomach contents from traveling back upwards. So guess what happens when your sphincter muscle is loose? Yep – acid reflux happens.
When you eat, your stomach breaks down different foods with the help of specific digestive enzymes in your gut. Protein is broken down when your stomach produces an acid called hydrochloric acid which then produces a digestive enzyme called pepsin. Your stomach has a mucus lining to protect it from the acid and pepsin, however your esophagus doesn’t have this coating. So if these digestive juices travel upwards, it can cause a lot of damage and lead to the burning throat and chest sensation that a lot of people associate with acid reflux.
This is such a prevalent condition that the myths around it have multiplied over the years. We’re here to bust some common misconceptions. Knowledge is the key to treating and managing this condition so you can stay healthy and pain-free.
Acid Reflux can only be treated with medication
Medication can help some people with acid reflux but it’s often not necessary. In fact, taking the wrong medication can make your reflux worse. The most commonly prescribed medication for acid reflux is proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) which work by reducing the amount of acid produced in your stomach. The problem with this approach is that acid reflux can also be caused by an insufficient amount of stomach acid, so PPIs further exacerbate the problem.
There are a number of natural ways to treat and manage your acid reflux such as maintaining a healthy diet, identifying and eliminating trigger foods, sleeping with a wedge pillow, and avoiding late-night meals. You can also add natural acid relief supplements to your diet to increase your stomach acidity and soothe your gut.
Acid Reflux isn’t serious
Acid reflux is so common that it’s often disregarded and simply “tolerated” by those who suffer from it. But this is a condition that can have a serious impact on your quality of life and also lead to more serious health concerns such as esophageal cancer if left untreated. A case of acid reflux now and then may not be a big deal but if your reflux is occuring a few times a week then it’s time to do something about it.
Heartburn and Acid Reflux are the same thing
You’ve probably heard people use these two terms interchangeably, but heartburn and acid reflux are actually two different problems. Although heartburn is a symptom that can usually suggest acid reflux, acid reflux itself occurs when stomach acid goes back up into your esophagus via a weak sphincter muscle, and it can occur with or without heartburn.
Acid Reflux is caused by coffee
We’re on the fence on this one but it’s definitely not fact, so we’re adding it in. Whilst coffee will trigger acid reflux in a lot of people, it’s one of many possible “trigger” foods that won’t affect everyone in the same way. Other foods that can contribute to acid reflux include spices, fried foods, sugars, citrus fruits, onions, tomatoes, and alcohol. However the only way to find out which foods specifically trigger your reflux is to keep a food diary to identify when your symptoms flare up.
Acid Reflux is a permanent condition
Many people who have suffered from acid reflux for an extended period of time will tell you that it’s incurable because they believe that they’ve tried “everything” to get rid of it. However, this is a condition that can be prevented, treated, and cured with the right dietary and lifestyle changes in combination with the natural supplements your digestive system needs to perform optimally. Acid reflux isn’t something you have to suffer from forever. Once you have the correct information, you can take the right steps to banish your reflux for good.