- Increased chance of bacterial infections
- Increased risk of broken bones
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Anxiety and depression
- Digestive problems
- Increased risk of heart attack
What’s Causing Your Acid Reflux?What most of us call acid reflux or heartburn, doctors call GERD – gastro-esophageal reflux disease. That painful burning sensation in your stomach, chest and throat is its signature symptom. And that pain is caused by acid escaping your stomach up through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Your LES is the flap that separates your esophagus from your stomach. When functioning normally, it opens only to allow food and liquid to pass down into your stomach, and to allow vomit and gas to escape up when necessary. Normally, the LES immediately seals shut to prevent acid from escaping. But in most cases of acid reflux, the LES is not sealing tightly and acid passes through into your esophagus, throat and mouth. The medical community’s M.O. is to treat reflux with PPIs. Their thinking: if there’s less acid in your stomach, it’s less likely to escape upwards. I’m trying not to slap my forehead at this logic because it ignores two very key concepts: the importance of your stomach acid and the reasons why your LES is allowing acid to escape. Let’s tackle these one at a time.
Stomach Acid is a Good ThingIf you’ve experienced acid reflux, you are familiar with its dry, disgusting aftertaste. It tastes like you drank… well, acid. That putrid aftertaste is just a preview of how powerful stomach acid is and what it does inside your stomach. Your stomach acid breaks down food so that proteins, vitamins, and nutrients can be absorbed and passed into your bloodstream. It also prevents infections and food poisoning by killing food-borne bacteria. But PPIs suppress stomach acid and slow down your body’s creation of it, which can give harmful bacteria in your food a second life in your bloodstream and intestines. Just as dangerous, if not worse, PPIs inhibit the absorption of iron, vitamin B12, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, and calcium. I want to make one thing very clear. Those six nutrients are extremely important to your health. Iron deficiency leads to anemia. A vitamin B12 deficiency is so serious that it is often mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease. Folic acid is required to create new cells and repair old ones. Too little magnesium leads to heart problems. Zinc boosts the immune system. And calcium not only keeps bones strong, but also helps keep you trim and slim. I also want to make it very clear that your stomach acid is a good thing. If anything, you need more of it to digest food quickly and more completely so that you better absorb those vitamins and minerals.
How Does Acid Escape Your Stomach?
Treating Reflux Without PPIsA natural and effective reflux remedy requires a twofold approach: Preventing your stomach acid from boiling over and ensuring your LES locks the door every time it closes it. In many cases, getting rid of acid reflux and heartburn boils down to six main actions:
- Be mindful of your portions so you don’t overburden your stomach.
- Eat less food that upsets your stomach.
- Eat less food that relaxes your LES.
- Reduce stress levels and get more sleep.
- You may need MORE acids in your stomach to digest food more effectively (ask your doctor about hydrochloric acid supplements).
- If you are taking medications, talk with your doctor to find out if they are causing acid reflux.
- Promotes a well-sealed LES, which keeps stomach acid where it belongs
- Supports your body’s biochemistry to avoid inappropriate opening of your LES after eating
- Helps relieve heartburn
- Helps protect the mucus membranes of the esophagus
- Promotes optimal sleep and improves sleep efficiency during REM cycle
- Provides antioxidant protection against free radicals