Acid Reflux: What doctors have been getting wrong.

Acid Reflux: What doctors have been getting wrong.

The rate of people experiencing acid reflux or heartburn persistently has raised significantly since the 1990’s. Approximately 20% of American adults have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux diseases) which is basically acid reflux that happens 2 or more times a week. There are close to 4 million hospitalization every year due to GERD, compare that to 1998 when there was less than 1 million.

Why? Why is this happening? Why are so many people struggling with acid reflux?

There are a couple pathologies that can lead to GERD from the medical standpoint. Such as impaired Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) function. Your LES is in charge of letting food from the esophagus into the stomach while also ensuring that no stomach acid goes back up the esophagus. If this is impaired and does not close properly than acid from the stomach is able to come into the esophagus thus creating that burning sensation. A hiatal hernia can contribute to a decrease in LES tone and thus function. Hiatal hernias are found in ¾ of patients with erosive GERD and ¼ of patients with non-erosive GERD. Then there is abnormal esophageal clearance. There is a normal amount of acid that does come back into the esophagus but can be cleared by esophageal peristalsis and salivary bicarbonate (think baking soda!). However, if this function is impaired than the acid with sit in the esophagus longer.

A Common Misunderstanding

Most people think that acid reflux is due to over production of stomach acid that than pushes acid back up into the esophagus. This is why antacids and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are prescribed like candy when people come in with acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD. However, more often than not acid reflux is due to an UNDER production of stomach acid. Then someone takes antacids that neutralize stomach acid or a PPI that reduces stomach acid production. Now, a person with low stomach acid production now has even less stomach acid production and the cycle continues!

This is one area where Western Medicine is doing a great disservice. Instead of looking for why someone is struggling with acid reflux, most doctors prescribe a pill that will help the symptoms go away but does nothing for the actual root cause of the problem! And patients are staying on antacids and proton pump inhibitors for weeks, months, and even YEARS!

I had a client come to me who had been on a PPI for 20 years! She was struggling with bloat, constipation, fatigue, and so much more. Her doctor had never told her when to come off the PPI. A prescription that is meant for short term relief is being used by many people for long term management and it’s simply making the problem even worse!

It took time but after a few months of focusing on gut repair and restoration, cleaning up her nutrition and lifestyle, and supplementing with very specific herbs, she was able to get her digestion back in alignment and hasn’t had to use antacids since!

What creates susceptibility to acid reflux/heartburn/GERD:

  • Overeating
  • Being overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Poor nutrition
  • Use of NSAIDs, sedatives, alpha blockers, and nitrates

There are foods that can trigger acid reflux and GERD, like fried and fatty foods, citrus, spicy food, coffee, chocolate, alcohol, and carbonated beverages. While I believe that those foods need to be avoided while healing the gut, simply avoided those foods alone is not the answer. My approach always involves getting to the root of the problem.

What Can You Do?

Take a whole-body approach! Reversing and healing acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD is about more than taking an antacid and avoiding acidic foods. It’s about supporting the digestive system through proper nutrition and lifestyle changes.

  1. First and foremost, CHEW YOUR FOOD! Chewing singles to the stomach to create stomach acid (HCl). Chewing also begins the digestive process by releasing amylase – an enzyme needed for carbohydrate breakdown. Chewing slows down eating so that the stomach isn’t being hit with huge amounts of food at once.
  2. Have dinner 3 hours before bedtime (before lying down). This keeps your esophagus elevated above your stomach to make reflux less likely.
  3. Take digestive bitters and hydrochloric acid (HCL). These supplements can help with INCREASING stomach acid since that often is part of the root issue.**
  4. Eat foods that are more alkaline to the body like vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes. Always eat alkaline foods in conjunction with acidic foods like animal protein, dairy, and coffee. {Note that lemons are an acid but they are actually an alkaline food!}
  5. Uncover any hidden stressors that are creating an imbalance in the body. Whether it’s environmental toxins, gut pathogens, imbalanced hormones, increased cortisol levels, etc. This is critical for healing!
  6. Focus on gut repair. Reducing intake of inflammatory foods, increase gut healing foods like bone broth, collagen, and glutamine.**

For more information on reducing and healing acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD, please send me a message at Shannon@3leafhealth.com or schedule a complimentary consultation here.

**Always consult a practitioner before beginning any supplements as there are specific ways to titrate and dose these supplements as well as avoiding any contraindications. These are just recommendations, but everyone is different and needs a program and protocol that fits their bioindividuality.

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