Enjoy this repost from the Get Off Your Acid blog archives. Its original posting struck a chord with our readers so we thought we’d feature it again.
1 in 2 Americans suffer from acid reflux!
Can you believe that half of us are suffering from that burning feeling in our chests on a regular basis? That’s HUGE. And it’s unacceptable.
What’s more unacceptable, is that there is a HUGE misconception out there even by medical doctors, about what causes and treats acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or peptic ulcer disease.
Common symptoms of reflux include:
- Burning in the upper abdomen, commonly known as heartburn
- A feeling that food is stuck in your throat
- Tightness in your throat
- Excessive burping
- Dental problems
- Bad breath
The standard treatment for reflux is a class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like Prevacid, Zantac or Prilosec. And by common, I mean REALLY COMMON.
Hundreds of millions of Americans take them each year and it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. YES that’s billion with a B!
The problem with PPI’s is that they not only don't work, but they are making the problem even worse! They are very good at treating the symptom, but let’s take a closer look at what causes reflux, and how drugs treat it.
Most of us think that reflux is caused by TOO MUCH acid in your stomach. It’s easy to assume that’s the case because acid creeps up the esophagus. You can literally feel it.
On the contrary, reflux is actually caused by TOO LITTLE acid in the stomach. Reflux occurs when a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes instead of staying firmly closed. When acid levels are too low, the LES will not close! This allows acid to flow back up into the esophagus. This phenomenon is known as a hiatal hernia.
So drugs like Prilosec inhibit acid production in the stomach, and make you feel better temporarily in the process.
Now I’m going to make a clarification here because usually, I’m telling you acid is bad, right?
Foods that naturally acidify your body like those in the SAD Standard American Diet are bad. But with less acid to break down your food and kill off the bad bacteria in your digestive track (this particular bacteria is called H. Pylori), and the LES valve continuing to malfunction, you’re on an endless cycle of needing PPI’s just to digest your food.
You’re only treating the symptoms. Meanwhile, you’re setting up a viscous cycle of imbalance in your stomach and the cause is only getting worse.
All of that said, it’s important that you don’t stop taking PPI drugs cold turkey. If you did, you would experience severe withdrawal symptoms as soon as your stomach began generating more acid.
Instead, as you take a more natural, healthy approach, you want to decrease your PPI dose gradually over several weeks in conjunction with your general practitioner’s advice.
So how do you fight (and ultimately cure) reflux the natural way?
- Eliminate high-acid food triggers – Caffeine and alcohol are two of the biggest sources of reflux symptoms, and not so coincidentally, they are also highly acidic. Because caffeine is as addictive as drugs, cut back on it slowly to allow your body to ease off without the side effects.Eating lots of processed foods and sugars also exacerbates reflux symptoms because it throws off the bacterial balance in your stomach and intestine. Phase out these acid-forming foods from your diet in favor of lots of greens and vegetables.
- Increase your body’s natural production of stomach acid –Since reflux is usually a problem of too little stomach acid, you want to encourage your body to make sufficient amounts of hydrochloric acid (stomach acid).You can easily increase the acid content of your stomach by drinking one tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a large glass of water.A good healthy alkaline sea salt with provide your body with the chloride it needs to product HCL (Hydrochloric Acid), in addition to the countless number of mineral it will provide your body. I recommend you use my three favorites: Himalayan, Celtic Grey, or Redmond Real Salt.MOST IMPORTANTLY, take a good alkaline mineral supplement in a powder form like Alkamind Daily Minerals. Minerals will increase the pH of your stomach, and because your stomach functions optimally within a pH of 1.5 to 3, it will reactively increase its production of HCL to lower its pH and make the stomach more acidic. The BYPODUCT of this chemical reaction that happens is an alkaline chemical called Sodium Bicarbonate, or baking soda.That’s right, the Daily Minerals will increase you acid production, helping kill off any excess H. Pylori bacteria, as well as improving the function of the valve between your stomach and the esophagus (when acid production increases, the valve will close like it’s supposed to) and the sodium bicarbonate byproduct will go into your body tissues and blood and will make you more ALKALINE!
- Supplement with probiotics – Because reflux stems in part from an imbalance of bacteria in your gut, add in a good probiotic supplement. Always buy the refrigerated brands – they are higher quality and refrigeration keeps the optimal number of bacteria alive so they can get into your stomach and fight the bad bacteria.
- Increase your vitamin D levels – Most likely, part of your history of reflux stems from an infectious component. For this reason, it’s essential you increase your vitamin D intake in order to produce antimicrobial peptides that will help your body eradicate infections you might not even know about. You can take an oral vitamin D3 supplement, but remember to also increase your vitamin K2 intake so your body can properly put it to use.
- Make sure you get folic acid – Folate, also known as vitamin B9 or folic acid and other B vitamins has been shown in clinical studies to prevent acid reflux, just as deficiency of vitamins B2 and B6 are linked to an increased risk for acid reflux. Make sure you take a vitamin supplement with B vitamins and eat B9 rich foods like asparagus, spinach, okra, and beans.
- Drink alkaline water – Aim for water with a pH of 9.5 or higher. If you have any questions on the best ways to alkalize your water, go back and listen to my Get Off Your Acid Academy call on Alkaline Water. In the meantime, add a lemon or lime slice to you water, or a dash of healthy sea salt or Alkamind Daily Minerals.
- Take a hydrochloric acid supplement – If adding in extra foods that increase your body’s ability to create stomach acid is not enough, try taking a betaine hydrochloric supplement, which is available in health food stores.While this would be my last choice after all else fails, this is how you would go about it. Experiment with how many to take by increasing by one per day until you get the slightest burning sensation and then decrease by one capsule. It will help your body digest your food and kill off the bad stomach bacteria that often outweighs the good bacteria in cases of reflux.
All of those remedies will help prevent acid reflux, but when you’re in the midst of an attack of reflux, it’s hard to resist taking a simple pill to stop the symptoms. However, remember that the symptoms are all you’re stopping – the acid reflux is going to continue to wreak havoc on you in the future. It will only get worse.
So I’ve got a few great alternatives to help you when reflux strikes.
- Aloe vera juice – The aloe plant naturally helps reduce inflammation, so many people find it helps with the symptoms of acid reflux. Drink a half cup of aloe vera juice before meals.
- Ginger – Ginger has been found to have a gastro-protective effect by blocking acid, preventing the formation of stomach ulcers, and suppressing the bad bacteria in the stomach.Grate fresh ginger root into your food or hot water. If you choose ginger as a tea, let it steep for about half an hour and then consume it before you eat.
- Chamomile tea – If you find reflux strikes as soon as you lie down in bed, drink a cup of chamomile tea, which can help soothe stomach inflammation.
- Sodium bicarbonate – As we mentioned earlier, take a good mineral supplement that has Sodium Bicarbonate in it. It not only solves the underlying CAUSE of reflux but when reflux is happening, is a powerful treatment to calm the burning pain associated with reflux, because it neutralizes stomach acid. So if you’re in a lot of pain from reflux, take the Alkamind Daily Minerals two to three times daily, OR try taking one-half to one full teaspoon of baking soda diluted in a glass of water.One word of caution – you don’t want to consume baking soda daily to neutralizes stomach acid. It’s not a long-term solution.
That’s why adding Alkamind Daily Minerals has helped so many people with this condition. It helps neutralize the toxins and bad bacteria that cause reflux and helps increase stomach acid as a response to its high alkaline pH, which again, causes a reaction that produces sodium bicarbonate. Because your body produces it naturally, it gets right to work in the stomach, larger digestive track, and your body tissues and helps neutralize more acid, bringing your body and blood to a more balanced alkaline pH.