Do you or someone you know suffer from pain in your chest that starts in your stomach and moves all the way to your throat? Do you have a sour or bitter taste in your throat after eating, a wet burp per say? Do you get a sour stomach, nausea after eating, stomach fullness or bloating, upper abdominal pain or discomfort? When you eat something spicy does it feel like your swallowing fire shortly after? If you or someone you know has said yes to any of these symptoms you may suffer from gastroesophageal reflux (aka GERD for short) Take a few seconds to read my post and I will walk you through a great way to rid yourself from this condition forever!!
Recently I have noticed that a lot of my friends complain of these symptoms, hopefully they are not literally swallowing fire, but you get the point! Most of my friends tell me that they usually pop a Pepcid, Prilosec, Zantac, Tums, or (insert your personal antacid). This is healthcare’s response to reflux, even though the success rate for complete reduction of symptoms is 60%. (1) Conventional wisdom/medicine tells us that since our stomach’s contain acid (pH of about 2) that when this acid refluxes up into the esophagus that this is the prime culprit for causing symptoms such as epigastric chest pain shortly after eating, that metallic taste in your mouth, or a fire coming up through your chest. We can reduce these symptoms by decreasing the acidity of the stomach or raising the pH of the stomach. This is what we are trying to do by popping our over the counter antacids, as I said earlier with relatively low success. (1) With a few lifestyle modifications I have been having great success quelling this ailment.
My reading and research has led me to believe that our conventional thinking as physicians is completely wrong! I first read about this approach in Chris’s ebook on GERD. More information can be found in the books Heartburn Cured: The Low Carb Miracle by Norm Robillard or Why Stomach Acid Is Good for You: Natural Relief from Heartburn, Indigestion, Reflux and GERD by Jonathan Wright M.D.
When we start popping antacids, we are feeding into a vicious cycle. This cycle causes a couple of independent events to lead to a compromised lower esophageal sphincter, which is the area where stomach acid actually refluxes into the esophagus. Chris’ does an excellent job explaining this on his website but I am going to explain the physiology of this process in my own words to see if I can help anyone try to overcome this awful ailment.
Reflux is a complex problem that is primarily due to a compromised lower esophageal sphincter, or valve that connects the hollow esophagus to the stomach. To have stomach acid cause irritation in the esophagus we somehow need to have this valve separating the two hollow tubes compromised.
This is where Chris and I disagree with most mainstream medicine. Obviously this is my opinion and if you have serious problems with GERD you should speak with your physician.
We believe that an increase in the intra-abdominal pressure fueled by that multi-factorial issue is to blame. The factors contributing to this compromised lower esophageal sphincter are an increase in the pH in the stomach that leads to a decreased acidity of the chyme (food bolus) that passes from your stomach to your small intestine. This reduction in acidity of the food bolus causes a less than optimal release of the enzymes from the pancreas that is responsible for breakdown of carbohydrates. With decreased breakdown of carbohydrates this leads to 1. mal-digested carbohydrates that are now backing up into the stomach and leading to an increased intra-abdominal pressure and hence a more compromised valve/lower esophageal sphincter. This reduction in the pH or acidity of the stomach also leads to 2. growth of non-native bacteria in the stomach. These bacteria will feed off the mal-digested carbohydrates and produce gas. These two issues caused by lower pH contribute to the compromise of the lower esophageal sphincter.
If you are asking yourself right now, I have been taking antacids for years!! What can I do to fix my reflux? I will give you the same advice that I have given to my friends, I advocate stopping the antacids (a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar can be a great bridge), building up a good gut microbiota by diet if tolerable (probiotics can be of beneficial if unable to consume the probiotics in your food). My favorite recommendation is the active cultures found in Kombucha. If you tolerate yogurt well, than by all means have a bowl of unsweetened greek yogurt in the am. This will help replenish your gut microbiota. Any dish or item with active cultures can help with this. These recommendations coupled with a reduction in the refined carbohydrates (stay gluten-free, cut out added sugar) in your diet will definitely help with curing the symptoms of GERD!!
Check back next week for more ways to make changes that last!