GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is essentially a digestive problem. It occurs when the Lower Esophageal Sphinster allows the stomach contents to reflux back into the esophagus. This can happen because of physical problems such as a hiatul hernia, or for a number of factors related to the digestive process. As enzymes play a key role in digestion, we'll take a look at wherever enzyme-rich foods and enzyme supplements can improve these factors and so are effective natural remedies for GERD.
Digestion is transported out by enzymes – catalysts that break down food to allow its absorption. Enzymes are secreted by glands in mouth, the stomach, the pancreas, and the small intestine. Altogether, your body secretes some 22 enzymes through the digestive process. The key digestive enzymes are proteins, amylases and lipases which break down protein, carbohydrates and fats respectively.
One factor in the occurrence of acid reflux is the length of time the food remains in the stomach. The faster and more efficient the digestion, the less chance there is of acid reflux. Enzymes also play a major role in the stomach's secretion of hydrochloric acid (HCL). HCL plays a key role in the digestive process by creating the acid environment the enzymes need to work.
Most natural foods come with the enzymes necessary to digest them. So, one of the simplest and most effective ways to get more natural enzymes is by adding more raw foods to your diet. Raw foods such as fruits and vegetables are rich in enzymes. However, cooking and processing can denature them. Heating above 60 degrees can destroy enzymes completely. Adding raw fruit and vegetables to your diet is always a great idea whatever the enzyme connection.
However eating entirely raw foods is not practical for most people. For one thing the volume of fiber would be hard to absorb. Plus they may contain harmful bacteria which would be boiled by cooking. For these reasons, many people choose to take enzyme supplements in capsule or liquid form.
Enzyme supplements are usually taken in a 'broad spectrum' formula which contains all the essential enzymes. A gastric enzyme capsule (or multiple) is taken before each meal, and between meals if heartburn or other symptoms of GERD arise. The supplements may need to be taken for a month or longer before any improvement is seen.
You should bear in mind that the orthopedic medical community considers all claims for success from enzyme supplementation to be anecdotal and lacking in rigorous scientific evidence to back it up. Nonetheless, some sufferers from GERD swear by them.
There's little risk involved in trying supplements to see if they work for you. And as natural remedies for GERD go, you can not get more natural. However, before beginning supplementation with enzymes, consult your doctor to rule out the possibility that you have any serious chronic conditions undering your GERD.