Our Gastroenterology Blog
Posts for: August, 2022
Heartburn is a common problem, especially if you love spicy or acidic foods. It is estimated over 60 million people in this country suffer from heartburn at least once a month, and 15 million Americans feel heartburn daily, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.
Heartburn feels like a burning pain in your throat and chest, but it has nothing to do with your heart. Heartburn is caused by excess stomach acid, produced when you eat spicy or acid foods. Occasional heartburn can be relieved with over-the-counter antacids.
In addition to taking antacids, there are a few tips you can try for occasional heartburn. Remember to:
- Avoid eating before lying down
- Limit spicy or acidic foods in your diet
- Avoid eating a large meal before bed
- Eat smaller meals more frequently
If you suffer from chronic heartburn, you could have acid reflux or a more serious condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
Acid reflux is caused by the sphincter muscle between your esophagus and stomach not closing properly or completely. This sphincter muscle is responsible for preventing stomach acid from backing up into your throat. When the sphincter muscle stays open, stomach acid can back up into your throat, causing heartburn.
If acid reflux goes untreated, it can develop into gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as GERD. This condition can cause damage to your esophagus, and even esophageal cancer.
You should visit your gastroenterologist if you suffer from heartburn more than twice in a week. You should also visit your gastroenterologist if you experience:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weight loss from lack of appetite
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Throat problems or bad breath
- Wheezing or dry coughing
- Tooth enamel erosion
Your gastroenterologist is an expert at treating heartburn, acid reflux, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. If you experience regular episodes of heartburn, it’s time to take action and schedule an appointment with your GI doctor. Don’t wait, because chronic heartburn can be serious, so call your GI doctor today.
When it comes to your diet—it’s important to trust your gut.
Your gut microbiome is incredibly diverse, containing 50 trillion or more bacteria crucial for proper digestion. Not surprisingly, the rest of us feel off when our gut feels off too. This could signify that your current diet could be feeding harmful bacteria or causing inflammation or other problems. Here’s how to nourish your gut for a healthy life.
Increase Your Fiber Intake
A standard American diet doesn’t contain much fiber. Unfortunately, it’s reported that as many as 95 percent of adults and children in the US do not meet the daily fiber requirements. A low-fiber diet has been associated with high blood pressure, gastrointestinal diseases, type 2 diabetes and more.
Both soluble and insoluble fibers are important for your gut for different reasons. The soluble fiber ferments intestinal bacteria to reduce the risk of insulin resistance and improve the function of the gut. In contrast, insoluble fibers are great for removing old, damaged cells from the colon to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Incorporate oatmeal, psyllium husk and other unprocessed or low-processed forms of fiber into your diet.
Avoid Refined Sugar
While we all love a good pastry or treat once in a while, Americans consume far too much sugar. It seems like refined sugar is in everything, including salad dressings and seemingly “healthy” foods. It’s important to read all food labels and avoid sugary drinks and foods that could make your gut health worse. After all, consuming refined sugar can damage the gut's good bacteria, leading to widespread inflammation.
Stay Away from Seed Oils
Vegetable and seed oils are quite common kitchen and restaurant staples. Unfortunately, highly processed oils such as canola, soy or corn are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. While you might think that sounds like a good thing, omega-6 has contributed to widespread inflammation, increasing an individual’s risk for heart disease, obesity and diabetes. To protect your gut, avoid vegetable and seed oils and stick with olive oil, avocado oil, grass-fed butter, coconut oil or ghee.
Add Probiotics Into the Mix
Probiotics are the good “gut bugs” people need to support a healthy gut. Probiotics can be found in certain yogurts and dairy products; however, you can also find probiotics in fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi. You may also take a daily probiotic, especially if your gut needs a little extra support (e.g., you’re dealing with a virus or taking antibiotics).
If you have concerns or issues with your gut, it’s always best to turn to a gastroenterologist to find out what’s going on, especially if symptoms persist for weeks. A gastroenterologist can tell you which foods to consume and avoid and what supplements could support a healthy gut.