Next to back pain, digestion and reflux have put a strain on the national health service. The most common treaments on offer seem to be pills and medication with doctors unable to explain the root cause of the problems. Reflux problems can often lead to surgery and many antacid drugs such as PPI’s (Proton Pump Inhibitors) have varying side effects including bone fracture (see here). These drugs only serve to neutralize or reduce stomach acid when we actually need it. Reduction of stomach acid is a major problem as it increases the risk for:
- Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies (calcium, B-12, folic acid)
- Protein and fat malabsorption as well as indigestion.
The use of these medications works against your natural physiology. They do not treat the actual cause of disease, but merely reduces the symptoms (sometimes), thus creating a false sense of “healthy security”.
Acid reflux is a digestive condition where the lower oesophageal sphincter is unusually relaxed allowing stomach acids to flow back into the gullet (oesophagus). Prolonged exposure to refluxed acid leads to oesophagitis.
The gastroesophageal valve and the lower esophageal sphincter are two united systems known as the anti reflux barrier, they are connected via fascia to the diaphragm which ideally work together.
Gastroesophageal Valve: The Gastroesophageal Valve or GEV is formed by a flap of tissue at the base of the esophagus that is doubled back at the position that it enters the stomach; this creates a dual layer of tissue that acts as a valve. The valve rests next to the lesser curvature of the stomach wall. There is an angle created between the flaps, the medical term for this is “the Angle of His”. The GEV opens when you consume and then will close and stay tightly closed to prevent the stomach contents refluxing into the oesophagus.
Lower Esophageal Sphincter: The Lower Esophageal Sphincter or LES is a band of muscles that enclose the esophagus at the connection of the stomach and oesophagus. The LES in general is contracted tightly forming a tight seal. If the LES doesn’t shut tightly it is possible for gastric juices to flow back into the oesophagus. The LES is also able to bond and push any material that has been regurgitated and reverse it back into the stomach; saliva is also made use of to help flush the oesophagus clean.
Reflux: The stomach contains gastric acid, pepsin and other enzymes, the wall of the stomach is not damaged by these agents, and the lining of the oesophagus is though vulnerable to damage if it comes into contact with these agents. If the muscle that holds the GEV in place is ill-treated, weakened or stretched, the Angle of His deteriorates and the GEV can finish up in a funnel shape rather than as a flap. If this takes place then the functionality of the GEV is lost and reflux is much more likely.
One of the major things affecting the GEV is the person’s weight, the additional weight on the stomach can stretch the GEV out of shape. Surplus weight also applies more force on the stomach so that if there are any slight issues with the anti-reflux barrier, the extra pressure can easily allow reflux to take place. Sitting for prolonged periods in a leaning position (ie: at a computer or typewriter) can have a similar effect. It causes a burning sensation as well as pain in the abdomen and chest. This condition is very common and affects millions of people daily. It can become quite serious and lead to inflammation, ulceration, oesophagitis, Hiatus hernia and ultimately cancer of the oesophagus. Acid reflux will also happen more frequently in the presence of Hiatus hernia.
The exact symptoms and sensations vary from person to person, though the most prominent characteristics are:
- a bitter, sour or acidic taste in the mouth
- feeling partially digested food or liquid rising from the stomach to the mouth
- burning chest pain, often behind the breastbone
- bloating, belching and nausea
- chronic cough
- stinging, hoarseness or sore throat
With MFIT when dealing with these conditions we first check with how the client breathes as this where we get 95% of our energy. The efficiency of breathing and correct diaphragm movement can dramatically affect one’s health. People who breath apically (into the chest area) tend to hold their stomachs in, causing tension in their diaphragm (which you can find just under your ribcage either side of the solar plexus area). When you hold tension you get a build up of fascia. Fascia is like a 3D “cobweb” of collagen fibres which surrounds and supports our internal organs and muscles. Fascia can also help protect an area and help nerve transmission to an area. So when we hold tension in the diaphragm, fascia will change its consistency in that area. This can have an affect on the stomach or heart caused by the tightening of the ‘cobweb’ in the diaphragm area. The tightening in diaphragm area can cause acid reflux.
With treatment and advising the client on how to improve breathing efficiency these conditions will not occur. Knowledge is power and we at MFIT aim to EMPOWER our clients.
Tension held in the abdomen caused by breathing into the chest area can also affect how we absorb energy from our foods which can lead to allergies ie: wheat or dairy allergies. At MFIT we use techniques to unstick the layers of fascia in the abdomen area so that pressure and distortion is relieved in the stomach and heart areas. Tension under the liver can also affect the throat area and neighbouring organs. Results are often a reduction in hyper acidity, ulcers and nervous stomach. When the diaphragm is relaxed it will allow the hiatus to function properly keeping the stomach acids in the stomach.
Care of your stomach and digestive system can be achieved with certain products such as Aloe Vera and Manuka Honey, MFIT’s findings on these products can be found on our recommended products page.
The digestive system is the area where illness often begins. We are what we eat applies. When we hold on to physical or emotional stress we create dis-ease. At MFIT we always assess the abdomen area when dealing with any illness, muscle or bio mechanical problem.