Myth: If I have acid reflux/GERD, it must mean I have high stomach acid levels and I need an antacid or a stronger medication to fix it.
Wrong: Just because you have acid reflux or GERD does not always mean you have high stomach acid. Yes, you may (rarer than you think) but other times you may have low stomach acid which can also contribute to an issue with your lower esophageal sphincter.
The incidence of heartburn increases with age and yet as you age your stomach acid levels decline. Dr. Jonathan Wright, in his book, “Why Stomach Acid is good for you” states that in his 24 years of practice that he has found that GERD is more often related to low stomach acid and that elevated stomach acid levels are rare.
Just because you have acid reflux, don’t assume that it is because you have too much acid. It would seem to make sense but it is not that you may have too much but that the acid that you do have in the esophagus is causing the problem. The lining of the esophagus isn’t protected like the walls of the stomach is to protect it from the acidic environment.
The medication may relive the symptom but it does not address the problem. On top of that these medications, research is finding, can cause a host of serious side effects. These include greater risk of heart attack than non-users, increase risk of chronic kidney disease, reduced absorption of vitamins and minerals, increased risk of infection such as c-diff and pneumonia, increase risk of bone fractures, and increase risk of dementia!
Bottom line: If you suffer with acid reflux, don’t assume that it is caused by high stomach acid. In many instances, it can be caused by low stomach acid and this requires a different approach as opposed to medication. Work with a health professional who can guide you in diet, lifestyle, supplements and herbs to use to correct the issue. If you are on a PPI don’t go off unless under the supervision of your doctor as rebound effects can be severe.
But Here are some tips:
Pick one or two-no need to try all of them at once!
- Take a digestive enzyme about 10 minutes before your meal
- Take liquid digestive bitters right before a meal. Swish in your mouth before swallowing. Not Swedish bitters but digestive bitters.
- Mix some minced ginger root with peppermint leaves to make a tea blend and drink after your meal
- Try one tablespoon of unfiltered apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg’s Brand) mixed with 4-6 ounces water right before a meal or after if the reflux occurs.
- Drink away from your meals not with them-let your digestive juices go to work instead of diluting them.
- If it happens every time you eat, consider a food allergy. Start by removing gluten for 3 weeks before adding it back in. Pay attention when you do add it back in. If it is the cause then keep it out of your diet. If that’s not the culprit, move down the line through some common allergens such as corn, soy and dairy.
- Chew…eat……bite…. slow down and take your time when you eat. Chew each bite 15 plus times. Eating too fast can cause acid reflux.
- Sit upright at the table-I know that sounds strange like you are saying “how else would I sit?” but people eat laying down, walking, slouched on the couch, moving around doing things at work, etc.…none of this is very supportive of digestion
- Try to relax: take a deep breath and enjoy and appreciate your food and whomever you are eating with. When we eat in a stressed state, everything tightens up and slows down digestion creating issues.
- And lastly, maybe the hardest one for Thanksgiving: don’t over eat! Eat until you feel about 80% full not so full that you can barely breath or move.
Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition. CA: Bauman College
Montana, C. What Doctors Don’t tell you. Oct. 2016 issue, www.wddty.com
Wright, J. & Lenard, L. (2001) Why Stomach Acid is good for you. CO: M. Evans
Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate), author of the book Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC believes in food first when addressing the root causes to your health conditions. For more information, visit her website at www.trufoodsnutrition.com
As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.