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Why does heartburn or GERD worsen in winter?

As the darker days draw in some people find their symptoms of GERD and acid reflux worsen. If this happens to you it is worth finding out if you have adequate levels of vitamin D. Levels of vitamin D will naturally fall over the winter months when we have less exposure to sunshine. Research suggests that many of us are deficient or have inadequate levels.

Why does vitamin D matter when it comes to acid reflux and GERD? Low levels of vitamin D can cause the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) to become relaxed, this allows food from the stomach to enter the oesophagus leading to the symptoms we associate with GERD and reflux.

If you are taking proton pump inhibitors or antacid medication then this can lead to food taking longer to be digested, extending it’s stay in the stomach. The presence of food in the stomach for extended periods can cause gas and distension which forces the contents upwards. When the lower oesophageal sphincter is relaxed, the passage of stomach contents up the oesophagus is pretty much uninhibited.

Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels or order a postal testing kit from us. An ideal reading is somewhere between 130 and 150 n/mols. Anything less that this could be impacting on your health.

The presence of reflux and GERD indicates that digestion is sub-optimal. Sometimes there can be small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), problems with absorbing specific nutrients, food intolerances, low stomach acid (yes, low) and insufficient digestive enzymes and bile flow. It is not unusual for reflux to be accompanied by bloating, problematic bowel movements, galls stones or an inflamed gall bladder as well as excess gas, vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Get in touch to find out how a personalised nutrition programme can help with GERD and reflux.

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Author: Sarah Hanratty

Sarah is a specialist practitioner at the Brain Food Clinic. She has a degree in Nutritional Medicine and is a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome Practitioner. Sarah helps people to overcome physical and mental health issues using bespoke nutritional protocols.

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