Stomach acids revolt sometimes.
Digesting food all day long wasn’t in the job description, especially the sugary, fatty foods on which modern Homo sapiens chooses to feast.
When acids back up, it can be abrasive on the esophagus, a condition known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease. (GERD) The condition is often treated with antacids, such as calcium carbonate or even a spoonful of a common pantry item, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). A newer remedy fills whole aisles in American drugstores: proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These work by inhibiting acid secretion rather than neutralizing it. Sales have exploded as many people take them for long periods of time.
A very small percentage of people with GERD may develop Barrett’s esophagus.
What is Barrett’s esophagus?
The normal squamous tissue in the tube connecting the stomach in mouth (esophagus) becomes more columnar like the intestinal lining. It can lead to cancer.
Researchers at Tehran University of Medicine asked whether, given the role of probiotics in gastrointestinal diseases as well as emerging evidence of a link to cancers, probiotics may have an inhibitory role in esophageal cancer.
The study was designed to evaluate the “inhibition effect of probiotics on the expression of biomarkers in in vitro model.”
- 2 different Barrett’s cell lines were cultured with Bifidobacterium longum and Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Biomarkers were measured: among them interleukin 18, tumor necrosis factor-α, tumor suppressor gene), and other genes.
The authors concluded: “Results showed that microorganisms could inhibit expression of biomarkers.” The study appears in the Journal of Medical Microbiology.
Good news then on the probiotic front. And there are other alternative therapies. Before running out for a hard remedy for extra acids, try these lifestyle changes first:
- Lose weight if needed
- Eat meals at least two to three hours before going to bed
- Keep your head elevated in the bed
- Eat slowly
- Stop smoking
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid heartburn triggers including: peppermint, chocolate, caffeine, citrus fruits or juices, tomatoes, and fatty foods
- Control stress—it aggravates reflux