Can a Ketogenic Diet Help People with Acid Reflux?
Additionally, the stomach is supposed to be highly acidic so that the denaturing of proteins can occur relatively quickly, and your food can be passed along for the rest of your digestive tract to go to work on it. Food isn’t supposed to sit in your stomach forever. Stomach acid is supposed to take care of the proteins, enzymes do some initial work on the fats and carbohydrates, and then the food is supposed to move along. Not only that but when the food does move along, it, too, should be acidic.
The acidity of the partially digested food (called chyme) entering the small intestine signals the intestine to secrete bicarbonate ions, which neutralize the acid, creating an alkaline environment in the small intestine. This is crucial because unlike the stomach, the digestive enzymes of the small intestine function optimally in an alkaline environment. You can see now that your stomach acid needs to be highly acidic because it sets the stage for proper digestion not only in the stomach but also in the small intestine, which is where the majority of digestion occurs.
What Causes GERD?
Contrary to popular belief, many individuals with acid reflux don’t have too much stomach acid; they have too little. (1)
If you have too little stomach acid or the acid you produce is not sufficiently acidic, food will remain in the stomach longer than it should. Some of the carbohydrates you consume—especially grains, but also other starches—may begin to ferment as they remain in your stomach for an extended period of time, and this creates gas.
This gas may put pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is a small bundle of muscles between your esophagus and your stomach. This sphincter is supposed to remain closed except after you swallow and food presses against it, causing it to open and allow the food to pass into your stomach. Most of the time, this is a unidirectional process—one way: food and beverages go from the esophagus into the stomach.
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