Heartburn, acid reflux can be very painful.
It is still a popular belief that it is caused by too much stomach acid seeping into your esophagus.
However, quite the opposite has been shown to be true for most. It is not too much stomach acid but often too little
You have a lower esophageal sphincter, this allows food to go into the stomach and it opens a bit for burping.
When you have low stomach acid you can not properly break down foods, this can cause bacterial to produce gases and increase the pressure in your stomach
Which guess what— results in that spinster opening just a bit and allowing a bit of acid to get to your esophagus, and any amount of acid in your esophagus is going to be painful and damaging.
You can see where the problem lies when people start to look for relief!
They often get over the counter or prescription acid blockers, things like PPI’s Prilosec. Long term use of Prilosec has been shown to reduce the production of HCL to nearly zero.
Use of these drugs also have been shown to cause nutritional defiencies, such as B12, folic acid, Vit C, many minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, minerals that are needed to help produce stomach acid
The cascade unfortunately continues. We have a further depression of stomach acid, a decrease in nutrient absorption, protein absorption, increased risk of gastritis.
It is incredibly important that the stomach is at a very low pH, this protects our body from infection from bad bacterial, fungus, parasites… So now in this scenario you are also at a much higher risk of getting an infection.
A very common on linked to acid reflux is H. Pylori
Over 50% of population may have H. Pylori and risk increases with age.The chance of having it is said to correlate with your age, so if you are 40 years old you have a 40% risk of having H. Pylori. If you have other digestive or immune issues this risk goes up.
H Pylori suppresses stomach acid and increases risk for ulcers, gastritis, gastric cancer.
Down the spiral you go… more pains, more meds, worse environment, infections, IBS, leaky gut….
SO WHAT DO YOU DO.
First if you are not yet on meds, I highly recommend you try to handle your heartburn pains without them.
If you are then you can work with a nutritionist and your doctor to find how to taper off your medications
7 Steps you can take:
1)Especially if this is a chronic issue I highly recommend looking into your gut health with a comprehensive panel, testing for H. Pylori and other infections. If you have an infection that needs to be handled first before you can really heal your gut.
The test I use often gets partially covered by insurance and is extremely comprehensive so if you would like more info on that let me know.
2) Reduce inflammatory foods and triggers. If there are foods that trigger pain, then dont eat them— damaging.
Gluten, dairy, grains for some, high sugar—- these can all be reduced or eliminated to help reduce inflammation and restore a healthy environment
3) Before a meal an easy and very effective thing you can do to get your stomach producing aided and to take raw apple cider vinegar.
A tablespoon in a shot glass with a little water will get things going.
4) Smaller meals, chewing thoroughly
5) Digestive enzymes- pick these up at a natural store, will help you break down food therefore produce less gas… this is not going to heal you necessarily but help find relief.
6) Try Manuka Honey, a special honey from New Zealand has been shown to help soothe stomach lining and help with bacterial infections. A small amount, like 1-2 tsp a day is enough
7) Probiotics will help support a healthy bacterial environment in your gut to prevent infections.
I get asked about supplementing with HCL/Pepsin, this can be effective for many but if you have H. Pylori this is not a good idea as it can feed into the infection. This is why I highly recommend getting the testing done first to see what is happening before adding in a bunch of different supplements.
And if you need relief for acute attacks, try 1/8-1/4 tsp of baking soda in water. This is a more gentler way to soothe the acid that has hit your esophagus.
SO that is what you need to know about Heartburn and Stomach acid.
If this is something you are dealing with then you can contact me for a free consult so we can discuss how to break you out of this cycle and heal your gut for good.