10 Steps to Beat Acid Reflux Naturally

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Acid Reflux

10 Steps to Beat Acid Reflux Naturally

Acid reflux or gastric esophageal reflux disease (GERD) is one of the most common conditions affecting Americans today.  This condition is characterized by a burning sensation in the chest that has coined the term “heartburn.”  An anti-inflammatory lifestyle has been shown to beat acid reflux naturally.

Upon eating, food naturally passes from the throat to the stomach through the esophagus.  The esophagus contains a group of muscle fibers in the shape of a ring that prevent food from moving backward from the stomach to the esophagus.  These muscle fibers make the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

If the LES is not closing well it allows for food, liquid and hydrochloric acid to leak back into the esophagus.  The inner esophageal tissue is not designed to handle the strong acidity which inflames the region.  This causes the characteristic heartburn sensation.  Chronically damaging the esophageal tissue often results in esophageal cancer and other more serious conditions (1, 2).

Common Risk Factors for GERD:

The most common risk factors for GERD include anything that obstructs the esophagus or stomach region such as hiatal hernia, pregnancy, and scleroderma.   Other proven risk factors include obesity, smoking, and alcohol usage.  Many prescription medications list GERD or acid reflux as a common side effect so this should always be considered (3).

The popular belief is that acid reflux is due to an excessive amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.  New science has revealed that this is not the case.  GERD is most often caused by too little hydrochloric acid being secreted by the stomach (4, 5).

LowStomachAcid_10Reasons

The Need for Stomach Acid:

During digestion the stomach secretes acid to lower its pH to around 1.5-2.5 range.  More protein in the meal results in a greater need for stomach acid.   Individuals with non-obstructive acid reflux are often not able to get their pH low enough.

The LES is known to be a pH sensitive valve that initiates closure when pH drops under 3.0.  When the stomach does not have enough acid the LES remains open and acid can spill into the esophageal region and damage the tissue.  Additionally, when the diaphragm herniates through the stomach sphincter it is called a hiatal hernia and can lead to the symptoms of acid reflux.

The Problem With Antacids:

Many people use antacids to relieve the pain of heartburn.  This covers up the symptom (reducing acidity) but only makes the problem worse by decreasing the acidity.  This process limits the body from effectively digesting the food.

This causes further stress on the enzymatic system of the pancreas as well as the other digestive organs.  Antacids, processed foods and many medications deplete the body of critical b vitamins and trace minerals that are necessary to create a sufficient supply of stomach acid (6, 7).

H Pylori and Acid Reflux:

H.Pylori is a very sophisticated microorganism that has incredible adaptive advantages that give it the ability to survive the stomach’s harsh environment.  It produces an enzyme called “urease” which breaks down the urea in the stomach into carbon dioxide and ammonia.  This causes belching and halitosis (bad breath) for the individual and it neutralizes the acidifying effects of hydrochloric acid (8).

Hydrochloric acid (HCL) is necessary for creating an acidic environment in the stomach to digest protein and ionize minerals.  This also helps to stimulate bile release from the gallbladder to effectively metabolize fat in the small intestine.  When the body is unable to secrete enough HCL, we have poor protein and fat digestion and may develop key nutrient deficiencies.

H Pylori disrupts the digestive process so it can lead to inflammation throughout the gut and gastrointestinal permeability.  This state of leaky gut can also cause iron-deficient anemia, irritable bowel symptoms with fluctuating diarrhea and constipation and ulcerative colitis.  By damaging the gut lining, we also develop an increased risk for anemia, thyroid problems, osteoporosis & auto-immunity (9).

h-pylori1

Good Digestion Begins in the Stomach:

Hydrochloric acid is necessary for creating an acidic environment in the stomach to digest protein and ionize minerals.  This also helps to stimulate bile release from the gallbladder to effectively metabolize fat in the small intestine.  Without these key functions working optimally we become at risk for anemia, thyroid problems, osteoporosis and auto-immunity (10,11,12).

Low stomach acid in a very common problem especially in older individuals or those who have suffered from various infections like H Pylori, been on anti-biotics and other medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (13, 14, 15). Low stomach acid sets the stage for damage to the delicate lining of the digestive tract and the formation of leaky gut syndrome.

StomachAcidCycle_ig

The Importance of Healthy Stomach Acid:

When you have low stomach acid you are unable to effectively breakdown protein in the stomach. This allows very large proteins to get into the small intestine and creates major stress on the pancreas to produce enough enzymes to metabolize the proteins.

This ultimately wears out the pancreatic enzyme stores and creates stress and irritation throughout the gut. It also leads to insufficient absorption and utilization of key amino acids that make up the protein molecules (16)

Large proteins and incomplete digestion can cause leaky gut syndrome and trigger auto-immune activity in different regions of the body. Improper protein digestion also leads to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, fuels Candida and other parasites. It also creates an acidic blood stream and depletes minerals throughout the body. Mineral depletion leads to the inability to form stomach acid and the vicious cycle continues.

AcidProzyme-Symptoms

The Baking Soda Stomach Acid Test

This unique test involves drinking baking soda and creating a chemical reaction within your stomach between the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and the hydrochloric acid (HCL).  This normally results in carbon dioxide gas production which leads to burping.  Ingesting baking soda has been a natural remedy for upset stomachs for centuries.

This test costs you about $3 if you need to buy a new box of baking soda, so there is not much to lose.  I advise this test because of its safety and low cost and you could easily do it tommorrow.

But, there are problems with this test. Overall, there are a lot of variables to control. Trying to minimize all the variables can be tough and I would recommend performing the test 3 consecutive mornings to find an average. By doing this, you’re looking for more of a pattern than a onetime test of “yes” or “no.” Also, to increase accuracy of the test, you must do it as soon as you wake up in the morning before putting anything in your mouth.

There are no scientific studies proving this method as either reliable or unreliable.  The results of this test can vary widely and it’s up to your interpretation, both of which are not ideal.  Here is how to do the test:

  1. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in 4-6 ounces of cold water first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
  2. Drink the baking soda solution.
  3. Time how long it takes you to belch. Time up to five minutes.

If you have not belched within five minutes stop timing.

In theory, if your stomach is producing adequate amounts of stomach acid you’ll likely belch within two to three minutes. Early and repeated belching may be due to excessive stomach acid (but don’t confuse these burps with small little burps from swallowing air when drinking the solution). Any belching after 3 minutes indicates a low acid level.

StomachAcid_BakingSodaTest

Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle: 

An anti-inflammatory lifestyle incorporates a diet rich in phytonutrient dense vegetables, healthy fat and clean protein sources. Healthy fat sources include coconut products, avocados, olive oil, & purified omega-3 fish oil supplements.

Healthy protein includes wild-caught fish, grass-fed red meat and free range poultry and eggs. Anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, oregano & garlic are also powerful aids.  Non-processed pink salts, sea vegetables, sea algae and cereal grasses should be used regularly to provide an abundance of critical trace minerals.

Fermented Tonics:

Individuals should avoid eating excessively large meals.  Food should be eaten at least 2 hours before bed to allow gravity to push food through the system.  Digestive enzymes and probiotics are particularly helpful at enhancing the digestive process.

Raw apple cider vinegar with the fermented mother intact is rich in acetic acid, digestive enzymes and good bacteria.   2 tsp of raw apple cider vinegar in water before a high protein meal is particularly helpful at improving stomach acid levels to prepare for digestion.  It is also helpful to use apple cider vinegar to marinate meat, as a salad dressing and on grains such as rice.

10 Steps to Beat Acid Reflux Naturally:

1.  Change Your Diet:  Take out all gluten, pasteurized dairy, soy, peanuts, corn and refined vegetable oils.  Consume a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in good fats as described above.

2.  Don’t Eat Late at Night:  Finish your last meal at least 2-3 hours before bed.

3.  Use Apple Cider Vinegar:  Have 1-2 tbsps of ACV in 4oz of water about 10 minutes before each large meal.

4.   Only Eat 1 Solid Food Meal Daily:  Drink green drinks and smoothies during the day.  These are easier on the digestive system.  One good quality solid food meal daily along with several protein shakes or smoothies and green drinks will help the digestive system to heal.

5.  Use Digestive Enzymes:  Taking a digestive enzyme supplement like Super DZyme here can help the body to digest food more effectively and reduce stress on the entire digestive system.

6.  Consume Fermented Foods Everyday:   Have a few tablespoons of organic kimchi, saeurkraut, pickles, coconut milk yogurt or kefir or fermented raw, grass-fed dairy each day.  The unique probiotics and enzymes within these foods help to improve your microbiome and enhance HCL production.

7.  Consume Fermented Drinks & Tonics: This includes apple cider vinegar, coconut water kefir, fermented grass-fed whey and kombucha.  Drink 2-4oz daily before a meal or meals to improve digestion and HCL production.

8.  Use Lemon and Ginger:  Make green drinks with a whole lemon or lime and ginger.  Both of these have key nutrients that enhance HCL production.

9.   Reduce Stress on the Digestive System:  Be sure not to try to eat solid foods when you are under stress.  Stress reduces the secretion of digestive juices and enzyme production.  I teach people to only consume raw and liquid foods in small quantities during the stressful periods of the day.  Enjoy your larger meal with healthy proteins. good fats and veggies at a more relaxed time of day (for many this is in the evening).

10.   Use a Hydrochloric Acid Supplement:   Improving stomach acid production is one of the biggest factors in improving someone’s health.  HCl(hydrochloric acid) supports nutrient absorption and helps maintain a healthy gastric pH, which, in turn, supports healthy gastric ecology.  My go to HCL support supplement is Acid Pro-Zyme here

AcidProzymeHeader

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Sources For This Article Include:

1. Kahrilas PJ. GERD pathogenesis, pathophysiology, and clinical manifestations. Cleve Clin J Med. 2003 Nov;70 Suppl 5:S4-19. PMID: 14705378
2. Shaheen N, Ransohoff DF. Gastroesophageal acid reflux, barrett esophagus, and esophageal cancer: scientific review. JAMA. 2002 Apr 17;287(15):1972-81. PMID: 11960540
3. Eslick GD, Talley NJ. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): risk factors, and impact on quality of life-a population-based study. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2009 Feb;43(2):111-7. PMID: 18838922
4. Life Extension – Gastroesophageal Acid Reflux Disease (GERD) Link Here
5. World Journal of Gastroenterology – Overlapping gastroesophageal reflux disease and irritable bowel syndrom: Increased dysfunction symptoms. Link Here
6. Dharmarajan TS, Kanagala MR, Murakonda P, Lebelt AS, Norkus EP. Do acid-lowering agents affect vitamin B12 status in older adults? J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2008 Mar;9(3):162-7. PMID: 18294598
7. Heidelbaugh JJ. Proton pump inhibitors and risk of vitamin and mineral deficiency: evidence and clinical implications. Ther Adv Drug Saf. 2013 Jun;4(3):125-33. PMID: 25083257
8. Hilatosis and Helicobacter pylori a possible relationship Link Here
9. Sutton I, Neuberger J. Primary biliary cirrhosis: seeking the silent partner of autoimmunity. Gut. 2002;50(6):743-746.
10. Champagne ET. Low gastric hydrochloric acid secretion and mineral bioavailability. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1989;249:173-84. PMID: 2543192
11. O’Leary F, Samman S. Vitamin B12 in health and disease. Nutrients. 2010 Mar;2(3):299-316. PMID: 22254022
12. Ness-Abramof R, Nabriski DA, Braverman LE, Shilo L, Weiss E, Reshef T, Shapiro MS, Shenkman L. Prevalence and evaluation of B12 deficiency in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease. Am J Med Sci. 2006 Sep;332(3):119-22. PMID: 16969140
13. Russell RM. Changes in gastrointestinal function attributed to aging. Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Jun;55(6 Suppl):1203S-1207S. PMID: 1590257
14. Cater RE 2nd. Helicobacter (aka Campylobacter) pylori as the major causal factor in chronic hypochlorhydria. Med Hypotheses. 1992 Dec;39(4):367-74. PMID: 1494326
15. Cater RE 2nd. The clinical importance of hypochlorhydria (a consequence of chronic Helicobacter infection): its possible etiological role in mineral and amino acid malabsorption, depression, and other syndromes. Med Hypotheses. 1992 Dec;39(4):375-83. PMID: 1494327
16. Body Ecology – Low Stomach Acid: The Risks, The Symptoms, and The Solutions Link Here

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Comments

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Comments

  1. Regarding the baking soda test. I tried it this morning first thing. I didn’t burp in those 5 minutes, but I did have flatulence. Does that count?

      1. Gotcha, thanks. I’ll try another couple mornings and see how it goes. With regards to stomach acid, how does alkaline water affect stomach acid levels? Before I started your Digestive Health Program, I was regularly drinking 9.5 pH water every day. I switched to 7.0 during the program, mainly because I’m still unsure how the water pH affects stomach acidity and digestion.

        1. I’m not a huge fan of super alkaline water, could have some negative effects on digestion especially when consumed at the wrong times. More important is that it has had unwanted chemicals taken out and beneficial minerals added back in

    1. Mint is EXCELLENT for nausea, but the WORST for Acid Reflux & GERD!!
      Do not take peppermint or drink peppermint tea if you have gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD — a condition where stomach acids back up into the esophagus), or hiatal hernia. Peppermint can relax the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus, allowing stomach acids to flow back into the esophagus.

      Works Cited:
      Peppermint | University of Maryland Medical Center
      umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/peppermint

  2. Hi. I have been on Nexium since it came out 10-12 years ago. Should i reduce or stop before trying your recomendation. I am also concerned if i have permanantly injured by body by being on it for so long.

    1. Hey Roy, it may be a challenge to restore your stomach acid function but you could try slowly backing off of the medication while using as many of the strategies in this article as possible. You will likely need to use an HCL and possibly enzymes to assist with digestion while supporting your own production of HCL. If you are having digestive issues there may also be deeper issues to be addressed which on of our health coaches could help you with. I recommend the GI MAP here: http://drjockers.com/bio-health-gi-pathogen/

  3. I get a burning feeling in my throat a lot of the time. Is it wise to use apple cider vinegar for this problem because I have heard people say that it is the pepsin in the throat which is causing the burning feeling in my throat therefore ACV will only make things worse. I also heard that the pepsin in the throat can eat away at the tissue when exposed to more acid.Could you recommend natural remedies to deal with this burning sensation I am experiencing?

    1. Throat burning is commonly caused by low stomach acid. Stomach acid stimulates the esophageal sphincter to close and prevent stomach acid from entering it. If it is low, this does not happen. You will want to follow the strategies above to promote better stomach acid production if that is the case. Try out the baking soda test and see what happens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lr6oWgjV-JY

      Diluting 2-4 oz of acv in a glass of water 15 minutes before meals and drinking that should not be an issue

  4. Is it safe to consume aloe vera juice beeacuse I read some articles online that warning about its side effects

  5. Hi Doctor I have been having a lot of bloated stomach recently and wanted to ask for some advice on remedies or diet to deal with this. I also want to tell you that for the past 2 weeks I have been fasting from dawn to sunset as part of the month of Ramadan.

  6. Hi Doctor I have noticed when I have certain foods like gluten or dairy I tend to get a little bit bloated. Could you give some advice on how to deal with the bloating problem.

    1. Sounds like you may need to avoid those foods James! Using digestive enzymes may help cut down on bloating but you likely will still have some kind of inflammatory reaction to those foods as most people do.

  7. I heard some people say you shouldn’t drink water 30 minutes before a meal and should wait 30 minutes after a meal to drink water. Does this mean I shouldn’t drink apple cider vinegar 30 minutes before a meal to improve my digestion?

  8. I have a lot of burning in my throat and have a bloated stomach a lot of the time. I was thinking of trying aloe Vera juice for my burning throat but after reading some articles online that said you shouldn’t consume it if you have irritable bowel syndrome I am now unsure whether I should consume it at all.

    1. Hey James, this sounds like low stomach acid. Aloe may help soothe any irritation but ultimately supporting stomach acids production will be the most important.

  9. I wanted to ask you doctor about your opinions on low acid diet for reflux whether you agree with it. I would also like to ask you whether you agree with other physicians who say that reflux could be the result of pepsin which attached to your throat which is activated each time you consume acidic food.

  10. Hi Dr Jockers I wanted to ask you if low acid production in my stomach is the cause for my burning throat why do I get this same feeling when I eat chocolate or consume orange juice?

    1. In most cases I find that a burning throat is caused by low stomach acid James. This is because stomach acid stimulates the esophageal sphincter to close. Certain foods may cause relaxation of this closing between the throat and stomach as well.

  11. Hi Doctor can you please give me a list of natural remedies to deal with a burning feeling in my mouth and throat. I tried ACV this morning but I am still feeling a burning feeling in my mouth and throat.

  12. Is it safe me to consume aloe vera juice if I have a bloated stomach which i do a lot of the time? I say this because i read an article warning that it can cause diarrhea.

  13. 2 questions. First I have taken prilosec for the just 2 days and I would like to stop taking it and switch over to taking HCL. I do not know if they would have any interactions but do I need to wait for a certain amount of time before taking HCL capsules? Second question I was trying to cure my acid reflux naturally by drinking apple cider vinegar 10 minutes before meals and taking digestive enzyme supplements. I would take a digestive enzyme before I had a meal with meat in it. While doing this though I was still having acid reflux throughout the day and my throat would feel like it was clenching up and it started to hurt very badly until I gave in and took prilosec after 6 days. Would taking HCL capsules instead of Digestive enzymes the way I did fix my throat problem?

    1. It could help Matthew! You should be able to start it no problem. Work your way up one cap at a time until you find a dose that gives you heartburn and take one less than that in the middle of your meals!

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