Updated: Dec 15, 2019
All this while, we have been told that acid reflux/gastritis/GERD is due to high acid production in the stomach. But that is not the case!
Too much stomach acid is not causing GERD. Stomach acid itself is a good thing, but only when it stays in the stomach. When it escapes upwards into the esophagus, its bad.
Adequate stomach acid is required to kill opportunistic pathogens, help digest food properly, and maintain good health. Reduced stomach acid leads to various health problems. Low stomach acid can cause malabsorption of carbohydrates and bacterial overgrowth, increased abdominal pressure and GERD. Current practise focuses on symptom management with the use of acid lowering drugs instead of trying to figure out why acid isn’t properly staying in the stomach.
Most common Causes of acid reflux:
1. Fried foods, Spicy foods, processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, smoking
2. Eating right before going to bed
3. Eating with an already full stomach can cause the food to come back up.
4. Being overweight and having a big belly can push your stomach up, causing reflux.
5. Chronic stress affects the nerves in your stomach, making it impossible to process the food
properly. So, breathing before eating is a very important tool.
6. Magnesium is needed to relax the sphincter at the bottom of your stomach that actually lets the food go down. When you don’t have enough magnesium, the food goes up.
7. Food sensitivities, including gluten and dairy.
8. Bad bacteria or yeast growing in your stomach. If you have been on a lot of antibiotics/hormones, if you eat a lot of sugar and processed food, you could grow bad bacteria or yeast in your gut. This causes fermentation eventually leading to reflux.
9. H. Pylori, a bacterium that affects a number of people in our population, can sometimes be linked to reflux.
Why acid blockers are bad?
You need acid in your stomach to digest your food and absorb the nutrients. Reducing the acid in your stomach could lead to mineral and vitamin deficiencies. If you’ve been taking an acid blocker for many years, then you can have Vitamin B12, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Folate, Vitamin C, Zinc deficiency leading to neuropathy, memory problems, digestive issues, osteoporosis, and much more.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, is another possible result of usage of acid blockers. SIBO can inhibit nutrient absorption, damage the bowel lining, and cause diarrhoea and other GI symptoms.
How to treat Acidity:
1. Avoid sugar, milk, all processed foods and meat till the recovery as these are acidic foods.
2. Gluten and dairy are the most common food allergens. Try to avoid these.
3. Try to get rid of the triggers for a few weeks, like alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, all of which trigger reflux. Not forever, but try it for a little while, and see if it’s causing your problem.
4. Change your lifestyle. Keep a gap of three hours between dinner and going to bed. Give your body time digest the food.
5. Practise deep breathing to reduce stress levels.
6. Avoid Drinking Water while you Eat. This literally dilutes stomach acid further, which will hinder your digestion and nutrient absorption.
7. Treat Your Bacterial Overgrowth: The next step in understanding how to cure GERD without drugs is addressing bacterial overgrowth. Low stomach acid allows bacteria to thrive in the stomach, compete for nutrients, and generate excess gas. Treating the problem can involve several steps, depending on your individual underlying issues.
8. Increase Your Stomach Acid: As long as your stomach acid levels are low, you’ll continue to experience acid reflux and other distressing GERD symptoms. Apple Cider Vinegar(ACV) post meal can help.
9. Supplements like licorice, probiotics, like Acidophilus and Bifidobacteria, digestive enzymes, Magnesium, Zinc carnosine and HCl with pepsin will help. Consult your doctor for recommendations.