By: By Carol Heckman, RN, CNHP, MH, CNC
Do you have Acid Reflux?… Bloating; burping; indigestion after eating; chest and abdominal pain; sleep disruption (and/or distress when lying down); flatulence; constipation; diarrhea; appetite changes; and sadness from not being able to enjoy favorite meals and food-related social activities.
Acid Reflux is a common health complaint – a big reason that new clients seek my help is to find an effective, natural approach to alleviate discomfort and the discouragement they feel from lack of relief from Reflux symptoms.
Commercials for prescription and OTC medications tell us Reflux comes from having too much stomach acid. And, the only way to eliminate Reflux is with an antacid or an acid-production blocker. Makes sense, in theory. If you see it on TV, and the Internet, it must be true! Right? Wrong.
What causes acid reflux?
Acid Reflux can occur from a variety of causes, but research is showing it’s unlikely to be caused by too much acid.1 Ironically, low amounts of stomach acid, or Hypochlorhydria, is one of the most common causes of Acid Reflux, or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).
Low stomach acid occurs from stress, eating on the run, aging, infection, and the standard American diet of processed foods, and overeating, excessive alcohol intake and smoking.
Without enough stomach acid to break-down food, the food just sits in your stomach, altering microbiome and fermenting. This creates gas and a buildup of pressure on the esophageal sphincter (muscle), which causes the sphincter to open and stomach contents to reflux into the esophagus.
Proton Pump Inhibitors (prescription and OTC acid blockers) do nothing to correct low stomach acid and (in addition to some significant side effects) may exacerbate your situation. Without sufficient stomach acid to properly digest foods, you run the risk of being deficient in vital nutrients, creating a slippery slope to other gut and health imbalances.
Even if you don’t have a low stomach acid issue, use of PPIs has been shown to induce nutrient deficiencies, so there is a double impact.2,3,4
So, how do you alleviate acid reflux?
What can you do (instead of popping Tums or Prilosec), if you’re suffering from Acid Reflux? Practice better eating habits and consider supportive supplements.
Here are 5 tips you can implement today:
- Chew! Thoroughly chewing your food enables your stomach to use the little acid it has to efficiently and effectively break-down food.
- Before your meal, take a few calming breaths as you sit down. This allows your body to disengage from stress and be ready to begin the digestive process as you smell, see, taste, and chew your foods.
- Avoid excess fluids (which dilutes stomach acid) with your meals, especially alcohol.
- Eat smaller portion sizes; doing so helps your body to have enough acid to digest what you’ve eaten.
- Consider adding key, calming supplements to your diet, such as: Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DLG); a high-grade probiotic or a digestive enzyme with betaine (natural amino acid); or pure aloe vera juice (drink alone or add to your favorite juice).
If you try these 5 tips and you still have Acid Reflux, consider getting help. I’ve had great success helping my clients to get relief from reflux (which may also be triggered by specific foods) and off of their antacids and acid-blockers for good.
Carol is a Registered Nurse, a traditionally Certified Natural Health Practitioner, a Master Herbalist, and a Certified Nutritional Consultant.