This can go WAY beyond a 4-alarm fire in your chest and can include:
- Regurgitation of partially digested food and stomach acid
- Angina-like chest pain
- Chronic cough; frequent throat-clearing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Bloating and gas
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Hoarseness; laryngitis
- Loss of tooth enamel
It’s called Barrett’s esophagus.
Let’s take a look at this sneaky, scary and possibly deadly condition, as well as explore some ways that you can help keep it far away from you, or help keep it quiet if you've got it.
What is Barrett's esophagus?
Barrett's esophagus is a condition where the color and the type of cells lining your lower esophagus change, becoming more like the inside of your stomach or intestines instead.
This process is called intestinal metaplasia and is most often the result of repeated exposure to stomach acid -- in other words, acid reflux or GERD (and also sometimes hiatal hernia). Obesity (especially around the abdominal area) can also be a risk factor.
It is three times more common in men than in women, and 55 is the average age at diagnosis. Approximately one in 10 acid reflux/GERD sufferers will develop it.
Although Barrett's esophagus symptoms are usually the same as acid reflux/GERD, it's also possible to have NO symptoms at all...
This can be especially dangerous because people with Barrett's esophagus have an increased risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma – one of the most rapidly increasing cancers in the United States.
So to not even know you have Barrett's esophagus means there is a risk that it can quietly exist and manifest into cancer.
Barrett's esophagus and cancer
Once cancer occurs, depending on the degree of severity it can result in losing a portion of your esophagus.
The surgery is called an esophagectomy. This involves removing your esophagus and the top part of your stomach. A portion of your stomach is then pulled up into your chest and connected to the remaining un-diseased portion of your esophagus.
To say this is traumatic is a vast understatement.
The procedure has a very high mortality rate (I.e.: death risk) and even if you do survive, possible complications of esophagectomy include:
- Breathing problems
- Increased risk of dangerous infection
- Lowered immune system
- Permanent damage to your larynx (voice box)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Frequent vomiting
So understandably, many people with Barrett’s have gotten the you-know-what frightened out of them and are desperate to do whatever they must to avoid its worst consequences.
Now, the typical suggestions for Barrett’s are the same as acid reflux/GERD--avoid spicy foods and tomatoes, and take acid reducing drugs.
Well, let’s think about that for a moment.
If avoiding spicy foods and tomatoes and taking acid reducers works so well all the time, then tell me, why did the acid reflux progress into Barrett’s in the first place?
In addition, what many people don’t realize is that acid reducers can compound the problem.
Why acid reducers can worsen Barrett’s esophagus
The most common treatment for acid reflux/GERD and Barrett's is acid reducing drugs -- PPIs (like Nexium "the purple pill," Prilosec or Prevacid), or H2 Blockers (like Zantac, Pepcid or Tagamet).
Now these drugs are designed to reduce your stomach's acid secretions. PPIs shut down the acid “pumps” in your stomach, and H2 blockers suppress the hormones that signal your stomach to create and secrete acid.
But acid digestive enzymes are crucial for your body to be able properly digest proteins. So when your stomach secretes acid when you eat protein, it's doing its job and should not be interfered with.
But that's precisely what acid reducers do, and as a result, your digestion can be greatly slowed and even halted.
Now, your stomach is smart—it senses when this is happening and tries to secrete more acid restart digestion again, but it's eventually its efforts are halted again.
This cycle can go on for 8-10 hours or more and result in a pool of poorly digested, putrefied (rotting) food and acid in your stomach.
Now, guess what happens later, especially as soon as you lie down?
You guessed it--up, up, up it can come into your throat. This creates the very thing you were trying to avoid—the ideal environment for Barrett's esophagus to flourish.
But your misery likely won’t end there, by the way.
Because poor digestion can also lead to trouble "down south." When your foods are not broken down like they should be before they move out of the stomach, it creates a tremendous burden for your pancreas, liver and gallbladder to try to finish digestion once everything moves into the duodenum (the upper part of the small intestine).
As a result, you can also experience gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
Those are common side effects of many acid reducing drugs and now you know why that is so.
Now let’s take a look at a safer, natural approach…in other words:
What is a smart approach for acid reflux/GERD and Barrett’s?
If you want to help lessen your chances of developing Barrett's esophagus (or help prevent it from worsening if you already have it), the true key is to...
Make sure your digestion is efficient!
When your digestion is accomplished thoroughly and completely, there is no putrefying mass of food or acid to rise into your throat.
In other words, you help eliminate a root cause of Barrett's (and acid reflux/GERD too!).
This can be accomplished in two easy steps:
1- Through your diet
This means eliminating acid-creating foods (including processed and fast food) and meals that are causing digestive disaster and replacing them with some real, alkalinizing foods and food combinations that your body can break down easier.
Note that alkalinizing foods include spices and tomatoes -- they are actually GOOD for you and your system!
And here’s an important point--even the best, most nutritious foods can be acid-forming to your body IF they are eaten with the wrong other foods. It's not just the foods you eat that counts -- it's what you eat TOGETHER that's just as important.
The Great Taste No Pain system will show you step by easy step exactly what to do.
Great Taste No Pain spells out which foods are acid-forming in your body vs. those that are alkaline. It also shows you what foods digest easier together and what combinations to avoid.
It couldn't be simpler!
Once you start making these few modifications to your diet chances are excellent you’ll start seeing a difference in how you feel very quickly.
And that's great news to people with acid reflux/GERD and especially Barrett's!
Now, if you have gluten issues, I’ve got you covered too. Great Taste No Gluten is for you instead.
Great Taste No Gluten gives you the same food-pairing advice as Great Taste No Pain, plus guides for gluten free living and a collection of tasty gluten free recipes.
2- With enzyme supplementation
If you've eaten typical acid-creating, hard to digest meals or processed or fast food for a long time (and Heaven knows that describes countless Americans), chances are excellent that your body's ability to produce adequate enzymes for digestion is reduced or impaired.
That’s why supplementation with an enzyme formula like Digestizol Max can be so helpful to so many people.
Digestizol Max contains enzymes that target any kind of food you can eat—proteins, carbs, fats, dairy, fiber, etc., plus 5 herbs to help soothe an inflamed GI tract.
Digestizol Max can help give your body a much-needed boost to keep your digestion nice and smooth -- and help make acid reflux and GERD symptoms a thing of the past for you.
Other helpful suggestions
Other safe, natural measures to help soothe an inflamed GI tract and enhance digestion can include:
- Chiropractic treatment
- Antioxidants like Vitamin C (500 – 3,000 mg. per day)
- Chewing Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL)—available at health food stores
- Omega-3 essential fatty acid supplements like VitalMega-3
VitalMega-3 can help with this very important task, as well as help encourage lower blood pressure and fewer aches and pains too!
You CAN fight and WIN
If you have Barrett’s esophagus, or if you have acid reflux/GERD that you want to help PREVENT from progressing into Barrett’s, see what a HUGE difference it can make when you take safe, natural measures to help encourage sound digestion and heal inflammation in your GI tract.
To your health,
PS: Always be sure to let your doctor or healthcare provider know what supplements you are taking.