What's the Difference Between Acid Reflux, Heartburn, and GERD?
The terms acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference among these three digestive disorders:
Acid reflux is the reason you have heartburn. It is the underlying condition that allows stomach acid to escape into the esophagus. Reflux is the result of a malfunctioning lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a group of muscles that allows food and fluid to pass into the stomach and block any of the stomach contents from getting into the esophagus.
Acid reflux is not necessarily a chronic condition. Any time your LES malfunctions, you're experiencing reflux. So, even if you get reflux only once a year, you're still considered to have acid reflux.
Heartburn is a symptom and not a disease or condition. Heartburn is one of the most common symptoms of acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It's a burning sensation in the chest that results from the esophagus being exposed to stomach acid.
GERD is a chronic condition. Most doctors will diagnose you with GERD if you experience heartburn or other reflux symptoms two or more times a week. Acid reflux may not require treatment, but GERD usually will.
A chemical that enables brain cells to exchange messages.
A measurement providing recommendations for nutrients for which no RDA is set.
This hormone serves as your body’s call to battle stations.
An important part of human muscle and one of the few amino acids that transforms into glucose, an important sugar that your body uses as an energy source.
A protein that helps maintain the body’s fluid balance, keeping a proper amount of liquid in and around body cells.
The vitamin E compound with the greatest vitamin E activity. The RDA for Vitamin E is measured in milligrams of alpha-tocopherol equivalents (a-TE).
A heavy metal used in deodorants, some cookware, and foil. Excessive amount of aluminum can cause health problems.
Commonly known as the building blocks of protein.
Having fewer red blood cells than necessary.
The eating disorder known as voluntary starvation. It is virtually unknown in places where food is hard to come by. It seems to be an affliction of affluence, most likely to strike the young and well-to-do. It’s 9 times more common among women than among men.
A hormone secreted by the hypothalamus, a gland at the base of your brain.
Nutrients that prevent a chemical reaction called oxidation, which enables molecular fragments called free radicals to join together, forming potentially carcinogenic compounds in your body.
The major artery that carries blood out to your body.
An amino acid that supports male fertility.
A nutrient essential to animals and plants but toxic for humans.
An amino acid found in its highest quantities in the brain. Aspartic acid increases neurologic activity.
The minimum number of calories needed to maintain vital functions, such as breathing and keeping the heart beating.
Gums found in beans and peas that lower cholesterol levels.
A B-vitamin that is a component of enzymes that ferry carbon and oxygen atoms between cells.
An essential trace mineral, known to help bones use calcium.
An eating disorder. Individuals with bulimia don’t refuse to eat. In fact, they may often binge and purge.
A mineral substance toxic to humans found in cigarette smoke, contaminated seafood, and refined foods.
An essential mineral important for forming and maintaining bones and teeth.
The amount of heat produced when food is metabolized in your body cells.
A dietary regimen designed to increase temporarily the amount of glycogen stored in your muscles in anticipation of an athletic event.
Sugar compounds that plants make when they’re exposed to light. This process of making sugar compounds is called photosynthesis, from the Latin words for light and putting together.
A waste product that you breathe out of your body.
A nonessential amino acid that plays a role in metabolizing fat and producing energy. It is an extra amino acid not found in your body tissue, but you can manufacture it from lysine.
The pigments that make fruits and vegetables orange, red, and yellow. Dark green vegetables and fruits like kiwi contain these pigments, too, but green chlorophyll masks the carotenoids’ colors.
Elastic tissue found in joints and in other parts of the body. Most of an infant’s skeleton is made of cartilage, but it changes to bone later.
A chemical that is released as food is digested and the body’s cells are fed.
A fatty substance that has no calories and provides no energy.
A nutrient that is not a vitamin, mineral, protein, carbohydrate, or fat, but it’s usually lumped in with the B-vitamins
A substance that is believed to contribute to the healing of joints.
A trace mineral that helps insulin facilitate the entrance of glucose into your cells and is a requirement for energy
A microscopic particle, containing fats, cholesterol, phospholipids, and protein, formed in the small intestine and absorbed into the blood during digestion.
A substance that works along with other enzymes.
An important component of the lower layers of the skin. Good collagen support can help your skin look young and reduce wrinkling.
A protein that contains ample amounts of all essential amino acids.
This zinc-balancing mineral is important in many enzymes as well as in the production of hemoglobin, the molecule that transports oxygen. It also plays a role in the functioning of the prostate gland and the activity of the oil glands, helping prevent acne. Nerves and joints require copper for healthy functioning.
A cobalt compound commonly used as vitamin B12 in vitamin pills and nutritional supplements.
A phytoestrogen found in extracts of soybeans, red clover, and kudzu root.
The fat that you get from the food you eat.
A group of complex carbohydrates that are not a source of energy for human beings.
A collection of sensible suggestions first published by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services (USDA/HHS) in 1980, with five revised editions since then (1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005).
A temporary eating pattern to cope with a temporary stress or an overly strict weight-loss diet.
Something that makes you urinate more.
An omega-3 fatty acid that reduces inflammation, perhaps by inhibiting an enzyme called COX-2, which is linked to inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
A neurotransmitter that makes you feel alert.
An omega-3 fatty acid that reduces inflammation, perhaps by inhibiting an enzyme called COX-2, which is linked to inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Mineral compounds that, when dissolved in water, become electrically charged particles called ions.
A form of adrenaline. It is often used to alleviate airway constriction caused by an allergic reaction.
The amino acids your body cannot manufacture. You need to obtain them from your diet.
A fat that your body needs but cannot assemble from other fats. You have to get it whole, from food.
A nutrient essential to humans. Your body cannot manufacture an essential nutrient. You need to get it from your diet.
Female sex hormones.
Vitamins that dissolve in fat. It is possible to overdose on such vitamins since they are stored in body fat.
A chain of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached and a carbon-oxygen-oxygen-hydrogen group (the unit that makes it an acid) at one end.
Many cities in the United States add fluoride to the municipal water supply to prevent tooth decay, and many toothpastes contain it as an additive; but this use is somewhat controversial. The mineral does have toxicity concerns and is associated with increased cancer risk.
An essential nutrient for human beings and other vertebrates.
Federal Agency tasked with determining the safety of foods and drugs marketed in the United States.
Molecular fragments that can bond and possibly cause cancer.
A neurotransmitter released when fat stores need filling up.
A phytoestrogen found in extracts of soybeans, red clover, and kudzu root.
From the Indo-European root meaning growth, ghrelin is secreted in the lining of the stomach.
A raw material your body needs to lubricate joints and build and maintain cartilage.
A nonessential amino acid abundant in both animal and vegetable proteins and found in high concentrations in the human brain.
A system of ranking carbohydrate foods according to how fast they’re digested and enter the bloodstream as glucose.
A nonessential amino acid that occurs in protein foods and comes from choline in the liver and the amino acids threonine or serine.
A carbohydrate in storage form in your body.
A form of arthritis that affects 9 men for every one woman caused by uric acid crystals collecting in the spaces around joints.
The protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen through the body.
A semi-essential amino acid that your body needs during periods of growth, stress, and recovery from illness and injury.
An amino acid produced when you digest proteins
Hydrogenation is a process that turns an oil, such as corn oil, into a solid fat that can be used in products such as margarines.
One of the glands that controls the endocrine or hormone system in the body.
A protein low in one or more amino acids.
Nutrients that don’t contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms.
A lipotropic vitamin-like substance that is found in soy lecithin along with choline.
Fiber that includes cellulose, some hemicelluloses, and lignin found in whole grains and other plants. This kind of dietary fiber is a natural laxative. It absorbs water, helps you feel full after eating, and stimulates your intestinal walls to contract and relax. These natural contractions, called peristalsis, move solid materials through your digestive tract.
A hormone that enables you to move blood sugar (glucose) out of the blood and into cells where it’s needed for various chores.
A measurement for vitamin needs.
A required nutrient for humans with limited natural dietary sources in some areas. Before the introduction of iodized salt, iodine was the most common mineral deficiency in the United States.
An essential trace element found in hemoglobin and myoglobin, two proteins that store and transport oxygen.
A stroke caused by a blood clot in a cranial artery
An essential amino acid that helps give you energy.
The amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water 1 degree on a Centigrade (Celsius) thermometer at sea level.
1. (noun) A nutrient that is essential to plants and animals but toxic to humans. 2. (verb) To show the way.
Leptin is secreted by fat cells throughout the body. Not only do they talk to the brain, but they may also communicate directly with each other and cut out the middleman, the hypothalamus.
An essential branched-chain amino acid. Leucine is essential for growth as a stimulator for protein synthesis in muscle.
Chemical family name for fats and related compounds such as cholesterol is lipids (from lipos, the Greek word for fat).
Also known as LDLs or bad cholesterol, lipoprotein ferry cholesterol around and out of the body.
A metal found in the soil and used medically in the treatment of manic depressive disorders.
The red carotenoid in tomatoes.
An essential amino acid best known for lessening and preventing herpes simplex virus infections.
A trace mineral used to make body tissue, especially bone.
A trace mineral that is found in your body’s glands and bones. It helps metabolize carbohydrates and synthesize fats, including cholesterol.
A heavy metal that is toxic to humans and commonly found in fish from polluted waters.
The pace at which your body uses calories.
Nutrients composed of only one kind of atom. They’re inorganic, meaning that they don’t contain the carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms found in all organic compound.
A fat such as olive oil with a one carbon double bond. Such fats are liquid at room temperature, but thicken when chilled. Monounsaturated fats are known to reduce bad cholesterol.
The moist tissues that line the eyes, mouth, nose, throat, vagina, and rectum.
The fatty material that sheathes nerve cells and makes it possible for them to fire the electrical messages that enable you to think, see, speak, move, and perform the multitude of tasks natural to a living body; brain tissue also is rich in fat.
A neurotransmitter that is thought to relay Eat signals or You can stop now messages to various parts of the brain
Chemicals that transmit information to the neurons or brain cells) are released
This pair of naturally occurring nutrients — nicotinic acid and nicotinamide — is essential for proper growth and for enzyme reactions that enable oxygen to flow into body tissues.
An important neurotransmitter that conveys information from nerve to nerve and is apparently important for memory, alertness, and learning.
Unsaturated fatty acids found most commonly in fatty fish such as salmon and sardines. The primary omega-3 is alpha-linolenic acid, which your body converts to hormone-like substances called eicosanoids.
One of the amino acids that aids in the production of growth hormone — produced by arginine.
Severe loss of bone tissue.
A colorless odorless gas that is essential for plant and animal respiration.
A B-vitamin vital to enzyme reactions that enable you to use carbohydrates and create steroid biochemicals such as hormones.
An essential amino acid readily available in most food sources. This amino acid is important in helping your brain make active nerve chemicals that can affect your mood (like epinephrine). Phenylalanine seems to increase endorphins in the brain to give you a more positive outlook.
A molecule made with the mineral phosphorus.
A mineral essential for strong bones and teeth. It is present in almost all foods.
Chemicals manufactured only in plants that are the substances that produce many of the beneficial effects associated with a diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains.
Nutrients found only in plants that are the substances that produce many of the beneficial effects associated with a diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains.
A fat, such as corn oil, that is liquid at room temperature and stays liquid even when chilled.
An important mineral contained mainly within cells, potassium helps to balance and interact with sodium in controlling blood pressure and supporting electrical impulses across cell membranes.
A hormone associated with pregnancy and birth that helps maintain bone strength.
The amount of energy required when to maintain involuntary bodily functions.
Like thiamin, riboflavin is a coenzyme. Without it, your body can’t digest and use proteins and carbohydrates. Like vitamin A, it protects the health of mucous membranes
A physical feeling of fullness after eating.
Fats mostly from animal sources that are solid at room temperature. These fats are known to clog arteries.
A protein resistant to digestive enzymes.
An important antioxidant and cancer-prevention mineral that varies in availability depending on its content in soils in different areas of the world.
An amino acid that can be made in your tissues from glycine or threonine, so it is considered nonessential.
A neurotransmitter that makes you feel relaxed.
A theory that posits that the body is set to maintain a specific weight.
Important for tissue strength, silicon, usually referred to as silica, is the most commonly found element in the earth’s soil and in foods. It gives strength and firmness to the body tissues — the bones, cartilage, connective tissues, arteries, and skin.
A condition in which your breathing is halted briefly while you sleep because your airways partially or totally collapsed.
Commonly known as salt, this mineral helps regulate your body’s fluid balance.
This fiber, such as pectins in apples and beta-glucans in oats and barley, seems to lower the amount of cholesterol circulating in your blood (your cholesterol level). This tendency may be why a diet rich in fiber appears to offer some protection against heart disease.
Compounds created by adding hydrogen atoms to sterols from wood pulp and other plant sources.
Natural compounds found in oils in grains, fruits, and vegetables, including soybeans.
Sulfur is an important part of several amino acids (the building blocks of protein), especially methionine and cysteine. This major mineral helps the body resist bacteria, cleanses the blood, and protects the protoplasm of cells.
A nonessential amino acid known for its heart benefits.
This sulfur (thia) and nitrogen (amin) compound, the first of the B vitamins to be isolated and identified, helps ensure a healthy appetite.
The smelly sulfur compounds that make you turn up your nose at the aroma of boiling cabbage.
Fats that are partially hydrogenated and increase bad cholesterol.
Fats your body uses to make adipose tissue and burns for energy.
An essential amino acid well known for its ability to dramatically affect the levels of the neurotransmitter — serotonin.
An essential amino acid necessary for dopamine and norepinephrine — the alertness neurotransmitters.
Fats from that lower your bad cholesterol, for example olive oil and the oils of nuts and seeds.
An excess amount of uric acid in the blood.
A nonessential amino acid that produces energy, which spares energy stored in your blood glucose. Valine occurs in substantial quantities in most foods and is an essential part of many proteins.
This little known mineral may actually be required for maintaining health, although no clear scientific proof of this exists at present. Bones and teeth may use vanadium as a building material. Vanadium also plays a role in blood sugar balance and cardiovascular function.
People who eat only foods of plant origin.
People who eat vegetables, fruits and grains and usually eggs and dairy products.
A fat-soluble vitamin that acts as a moisturizing nutrient, promotes healthy bones and teeth, supports your reproductive system and helps your immune system fight infection.
This vitamin makes healthy red blood cells.
This vitamin speeds production of new cells in wound healing, protects the immune system, and helps synthesize hormones.
Vitamins that dissolve in water, thus you excrete any extra in your urine.
A trace element that protects nerve and brain tissue and bolsters the immune system.