How to Strengthen Your Lower Esophageal Sphincter
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle is situated between the stomach and the esophagus (throat). It opens to allow food to pass from the esophagus into the stomach. It closes to keep food and acid from flowing up from the stomach into the esophagus. Acid is produced in your stomach to help break down food for digesting. When the lower esophageal sphincter muscle is weak, acid flows up into the esophagus and can irritate and burn inner parts of the body.
So, have you found out that you have gastroesphageal reflux disease (GERD)? Many people don’t even know that they have it. It effects infants as well as adults. Heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD. Other terms for heartburn are acid indigestion and acid reflux. More than 25 million adults suffer from heartburn daily.
Causes of Gastroesphageal Reflux Disease
Some doctors believe that a hiatal hernia may weaken the lower esophageal sphincter muscle and cause reflux. Reflux means the return flow of a liquid. A hiatal hernia is caused when the upper stomach moves up into the chest through a small opening in the diaphragm. Coughing may cause a hiatal hernia. A person of any age can have one. Many healthy people over the age of 50 have a small one. If it is severe you may feel a constant pain behind your breast plate. The pain can last for months.
The Problem with Soy
Isoflavones are chemical compounds. Glycitein, genistein and daidzein are isoflavones found in soy. They mimic estrogen. Estrogen weakens the lower esophageal sphincter muscle. Soy is found in most every food today because it is a cheap commodity. If you’ll exam the ingredients on the packages that you purchase, you’ll see that soy is in bread, peanut butter, coffee mate non-dairy creamer, salad dressing, infant formula. The list is endless. The vegetable oil on the shelves in grocery stores is usually soybean oil, unless the oil is specifically labeled such as olive, safflower, sunflower, almond etc.
Certain foods and beverages can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter muscle. It would be helpful to avoid tobacco, alcohol, coffee (caffeinated and decaffeinated), caffeine, carbonated beverages, chocolate, peppermint, refined sugar and pastries, citrus, fried foods, fat and fatty foods, soy products (unless fermented), and especially avoid tomatoes and tomato products. Tomatoes are very acidic. Think twice before you eat that delicious pizza.
You must be very conscientious about reading the ingredients on the packages of the food that you purchase. Sugar is always harmful to the body and is in most food. Tomato is also in a lot of packaged food.
Foods to Encounter
Aloe Vera Gel Gets Two Thumbs Up
Aloe Vera Gel (whole leaf) could be taken before A.M. and P.M. meals. It is a natural remedy for acid reflux. The suggested dose is 4 oz. per day. If you have ulcers it would be a good idea to take a tablespoon (less of a dose). Until you feel the ulcers are healed. Otherwise too much Aloe Vera Gel may exasperate the ulcer condition.
Aloe Vera Gel coats the throat and stomach. Aloe Vera is a healing plant. Over time the lower esophageal sphincter muscle should strengthen. I’d give it a good year. A year is a normal length of time for anything in the body to reverse from disease and heal.
Ginger Is Beneficial
Drinking ginger tea can help keep stomach acid under control. It may take a couple of weeks until you see a difference. The suggested dose is 3 cups per day, with distilled water. It is best to drink the tea without sugar, honey or lemon juice. Refined sugar doesn’t do the body any good. It and citrus should be avoided anyway. The tea should be steeped.
How to Steep Tea
- Boil distilled water
- Pour 6 oz. of boiled water over a tea bag in a cup
- Place a saucer on top of the cup for 5-10 minutes
After you’ve steeped your tea, it is a good habit to squeeze the tea bag with your spoon up against the inside wall of the cup. Doing that and steeping enhances the strength of the tea.
Other Tips for Controlling Acid Reflux
Modify eating habits:
- Eat many small meals during the day
- Eat nothing 3 hours before going to bed (especially spicy foods)
- Avoid lying down after eating
- Eat slowly
- Eat in an upright position
Sleep in an upright position or at a 45 degree angle by:
- Using a wedged pillow
- Using an adjustable chair or bed
- Sleeping on your left side at a 45 degree angle so that the sphincter valve closes
- Elevating the head of the bed by 6-8 inches with blocks
Try to avoid using abdominal pressure such as:
- Heavy lifting
- Bending at the waist
- Tight belts, clothes, etc.
- Slumping in chairs
- Straining with bowel movements
Note: With the above diet you may lose a few pounds.