Digestion, in a simple explanation, is the process in which food becomes less complex and its nutrients become available to the body. Common issues that we find are insufficient stomach acid and elimination issues. Stomach acid, hydrochloric acid (HCL), is essential for breaking down proteins. HCL formation is reduced due to loss of minerals and the aging process. To make matters worse, many people are on medications that reduce the acid in their stomachs because of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which the stomach contents leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus. This can irritate the esophagus, causing heartburn. In most cases, the reason a person has indigestion (dyspepsia – impaired digestion) is due lack of HCl not an over production of HCL. Elimination is the last stage of digestion. It is very important that we move our bowels once to twice per day to get rid of the toxic wastes. Elimination can be affected by many things such as emotional stress, the amount of fluids you drink, the amount of fiber in your diet, medications, and activity level.
GERD may be due to a hiatal hernia. A hiatal hernia is when the stomach pushes up on the diaphragm and through the hiatus, the opening for the esophagus, allowing food and acid back into the esophagus, causing heartburn or GERD. Allopathic medicine states that a hiatal hernia is caused by an injury, birth defect, or persistent pressure on the surrounding muscles such as when coughing, vomiting, straining during a bowel movement, or while lifting heavy objects. Dr. Rowland Turner states that a more common reason for a hiatal hernia is poor diet and toxins:
"The first negative impact are toxins which start to form in the intestinal system due to poor diet of processed foods, carbohydrates, food coloring, preservatives, coffee, English teas, and carbonated soft drinks. When this toxicity reaches a critical level, the liver begins to leak toxins into the arterial blood. The toxic blood level rises to a point when the esophageal muscles contract from the increased toxicity in the blood. This esophageal contraction pulls the stomach up into the heart chamber, starting the domino effect of the hiatal hernia."(1)
GERD and hiatal hernias can be corrected through diet, detoxifying the gut, correcting digestive and elimination issues, and chiropractic adjustments.
1) Dr. Rowland Turner Jr., A Silent Killer: Hiatal Hernia, Turner Life Chiropractic Clinic, Winston-Salem NC