Every time I read someone stating that acidic foods cause acid reflux it makes me cringe. Let’s get something straight here. Acid reflux is a result of the mechanical failure of the esophageal sphincter and not the content of acidic foods you’re eating.
None of the foods you’re eating are higher in acidity than the normal content of hydrochloric acid in your stomach when you are in-between meals. The PH of your stomach, assuming its working properly, is between 1.5 and 3.5. That’s because hydrochloric acid by itself has a PH of 2.0.
Some would have you believe that acidic food consumption is what creates the burning sensation in your stomach area. I say area for a reason. You’re NOT feeling the burning sensation in your stomach. Your stomach is designed to handle hydrochloric acid without any sensations. Your esophagus on the other hand is not and this is where the burning sensation is actually being experienced. Let’s look at the PH of some of the supposed culprits most often blamed for causing acid reflux.
- - Orange Juice 3.3 – 4.5
- - Typical Breakfast Blend Coffee Black 4.7 – 5.2
- - Tomato Juice & Tomato Paste 3.5 – 4.7
- - Lemon Juice 2.0 – 2.8
So all of the above are no more acidic than the contents of hydrochloric acid in your fasted empty gut! So how can these less acidic foods be causing your acid reflux? They’re NOT. That’s my point.
The contents of your stomach can not come back up into your throat unless the esophageal sphincter fails mechanically. It’s like saying the hatch on a nuclear submarine allowed water to come in because there was warm water instead of cold water outside of the submarine.
So What Can Cause Acid Reflux
Some culprits may affect the muscles in the esophageal sphincter. Caffeine is one. Another is ginger. That’s right, ginger the old stomach remedy can relax the sphincter so that it’s easier to burp! Caffeine has been shown to cause the muscle of the sphincter to tense up and potentially cause the seal of the stomach to become misshapen and breach. This may be the real reason coffee is blamed for acid reflux by unknowing physicians.
Another culprit is anything that can cause mechanical failure of the esophageal sphincter from physical pressure. The Esophageal sphincter can resist an estimated pressure of 20 centimeters of water (how they measure pressure on the esophagus in general). This means if the pulling or pushing force on the sphincter exceeds this, the contents of the stomach will leak out and into the esophagus. Here are some examples.
- - Excessive gas in the stomach – pushes against the sphincter and causes a breach
- - Excessive snoring – pulls on the sphincter and causes a breach
Either of the above can cause acute acid reflux as in the occasional bout of heart burn. If these conditions persist over long periods of time, chronic failure of the esophageal sphincter can occur.
So let’s stop blaming the acidic quality of foods once and for all so people who suffer from acid reflux can begin to find the real answers for their individual failure of the esophageal sphincter.