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Strengthen that LES to Protect Against GERD!

The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a sphincter that connects the top of the stomach with the bottom of the esophagus. The LES first relaxes to allow food to enter the stomach. The LES then closes tightly after food enters the stomach to keep stomach acid and pepsin from traveling up the esophagus. The LES can also relax to allow air to travel out of the stomach in the form of a burp. The LES also naturally relaxes to allow vomiting. The LES must maintain proper muscle tone and pressure. Too little pressure and muscle tone, may cause reflux if increased intra-abdominal pressure or a reduction in gravity is present. For example what happens if you have a weak LES and you lay down to go to bed after eating a snack? A lack of gravity putting pressure on the sphincter from laying down may relax it and cause nighttime reflux. Finally, if the LES muscle tone is too tight and it fails to relax, it may cause a condition called achalasia. When achalasia occurs food can become stuck in the esophagus after swallowing, causing choking, regurgitation, and chest pain.1

The lower esophageal sphincter may become weakened over a period of time from:

If your LES is weakened, excess intra-abdominal pressure can easily push gastric contents into the esophagus causing reflux. In addition, if the LES is weakened, reflux can easily occur during sleep because of the lack of LES pressure that would normally hold gastric contents in place.8 Sleeping on your left side at night is more anatomically correct. Sleeping on your left side can increase LES pressure causing it to remain closed and help relieve nighttime reflux. Strengthening the LES is hard because there are not many exercises that can be used to straighten the sphincter (research states that breathing exercises may help). You can, however, take excess pressure off the LES and stomach physically by wearing loose clothing and by losing excess weight to help it strengthen. You can also limit foods that weaken the LES, treat SIBO, and finally attempt to switch medicines that do not weaken your LES. Some supplements can help by strengthening the LES, lower gastric pressure, and repair nerve damage. All of these suggestions should help your LES function better.

LES Protocol