Could Your GERD Symptoms Be Caused by Inflammation?


Who hasn’t suffered from occasional heartburn after a hearty spaghetti dinner or a chili dog at the state fair? While we may naturally connect heartburn to spicy food or an aging digestive system, there are studies that have shown a potential connection between this particular strain of digestive discomfort and inflammation.

Heartburn is sometimes referred to as GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease) when it occurs frequently and consistently, and it can be more than inconvenient; it can be painful. And while over-the-counter medications like Pepcid or Zantac may alleviate occasional symptoms, more chronic discomfort may be a sign that your body has systemic problems that need to be addressed.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that GERD, which affects up to 20% of the American adult population, may be caused by an inflammatory response in the esophagus to certain proteins called cytokines.  And while OTC and prescription medications may temporarily alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with GERD, there are also potential risks in other areas of health from long-term use of these drugs, as they may contribute to high blood pressure and a decreased ability in the body to absorb important nutrients like magnesium and B vitamins.

As an alternative to pharmaceutical solutions to GERD, there are more natural, less invasive ways to treat your symptoms. Because it’s true that we are what we eat, it’s more than just eliminating spicy dishes to keep heartburn at bay; taking a look at inflammatory foods in our diet is an important step toward optimizing general health and minimizing pain.

Here are some elements that are known to be inflammatory and should be avoided:

  • Sugar
  • Gluten
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy Products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
  • MSG

Instead, try adding some of these foods into your diet: 

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Almonds and Walnuts
  • Green Leafy Vegetables (spinach, collards, kale)
  • Fish and Fish Oil (Omega 3)

Because the overall benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet are well-documented, it may be a doable first step in treating the symptoms of regularly occurring heartburn. Heart health, weight loss, and decreased joint pain are just a few of the additional salubrious effects to be enjoyed with this new menu!  

In addition, we know that chiropractic adjustments can have powerful healing effects on issues of chronic inflammation, in general and specifically with GERD. In general, adjustments can reduce interference to your nervous system by removing the pressure of a misaligned bone pressing on nerve roots and inhibiting performance of those nerves. Then your nervous system can fire the right messages to the right glands so they can produce the right amount of hormone your body needs.

More specifically to GERD, because your brain runs your digestive system less effectively when you are subluxated, your ability to regulate the health of tissues like those of the esophagus can be improved by adjustments to the part of the spine containing those nerves. Patients in our office have a strong history of responding to chiropractic adjustments with much more favorable digestive function and most find they no longer need medications to control reflux.  

What new healthy foods and recipes have you discovered recently? Please share them below!



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