Really Easy, Natural Ways to Help Treat Acid Reflux Disease
If You’ve Got Heartburn, Here Are Some Natural Ways to Help Treat Acid Reflux Disease
Just a few days ago, I wrote an article covering how a drug class commonly prescribed for heartburn/acid reflux disease (GERD) has been linked to a scary condition called Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).
For millions of Americans whose bodies are addicted to PPIs (your body becomes dependent on them after a while), that’s bad news.
Well, have no fear if you’re a PPI user – I have some good news for you.
There are effective, natural, and easy ways to treat heartburn/acid reflux disease.
So if you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from the agony of occasional heartburn or GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease), give me a few moments of your time and I’ll help you make some informed decisions that could change your life.
Read This Before You Learn the Natural Ways to Help Treat Acid Reflux Disease
Before I go into this, I want to take a second to make sure you understand something very important about heartburn… it’s actually an allergic reaction to working too much. So just quit your job, and you’ll be fine.
I kid, I kid.
Actually, the tricky thing about treating GERD is that most people (including many physicians) don’t realize that, in most cases, it’s actually caused by too littlestomach acid. Despite what you’ve been told, it’s actually the opposite of what you might expect.
Here’s how GERD comes to be a problem in your life:
Let’s say you’re snacking on your favorite food, and let’s say that food is barbecue with a rich, smoky sauce (I’m just trying to make you hungry).
Here’s what’s supposed to happen: once you chew and swallow your food, the pre-digested food passes down your esophagus, where it ends up in your stomach. Ideally, your body would activate a small valve between your stomach and your esophagus (called the lower esophageal sphincter or LES) that’ll keep your food, as well as stomach acid, locked inside of your stomach where it won’t be a problem.
But for the vast majority of people with GERD, the LES slacks a little bit and begins to relax. This creates an opening, which lets your stomach acid move out of the stomach and up into the esophagus.
Now with that, you’re probably thinking this sounds like a case of “too much stomach acid.”
Still not true.
Most of the time, the acid in the throat is related to either a hiatal hernia or an infection called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) which, according to the World Health Organization, affects 50% of the world’s population and is a known carcinogen).
The two aren’t directly related, but a lot of people who have a hiatal hernia are also infected with Helicobacter pylori. Dr. Barry Marshall, an Australian physician, has firm evidence to support the hypothesis that “H. pylori infection is responsible, or at least a major factor, in producing the symptoms of acid reflux.”
There are also other things that’ll contribute to acid reflux. These include:
- Smoking: As if you needed another reason to stop smoking. The smoke you inhale can do a number on your body, including reducing how much saliva you make (important for digestion), damaging mucous membranes, impairing important muscle reflexes (including the LAS) and contributing to inflammation (which can affect acid levels).
- Eating before you go to bed: Anytime you hear a doctor tell you not to eat before bed, they know what they’re talking about. When it comes to GERD, eating before bed causes your body to begin digesting. Well, the angle of your body while you sleep will cause acid to move up the esophagus (especially with a hiatal hernia), which can create heartburn.
- Carrying too much weight on your body: That’s my way of saying having excess body fat causes heartburn. Yep, another another reason to lose weight. The extra weight on your body can interfere with both acid production as well as how your LES works.
- The medications you take: There are a long line of medications capable of affecting your stomach acid levels. Which ones, you ask? Antidepressants can be a problem, as well as NSAIDs like aspirin, ibuprofen, muscle relaxers, blood pressure medications, steroids and antibiotic drugs, nitroglycerin, osteoporosis drugs, and more. I’ll write a bit more about that later in the article, but just keep these things in mind.
- Eating certain trigger foods: This is one of the harder things for people to stomach (pun intended). Here’s a list of foods that can exacerbate heartburn:
- Spicy foods
- Red meat
- Carbonated beverages
There’s more…but you get the idea.
Ok, so now that you made it through that list (good job!) what does this all mean for you? Does it mean you’ve got to give up your favorite foods? Does it mean your situation is hopeless?
Not at all. You’re about to learn the natural ways to help treat acid reflux disease.
Follow These Natural Methods for Eliminating Acid Reflux Disease
Like I mentioned, so much of acid reflux disease comes down to you working too much…err, I mean low stomach acid.
That means one of the best things to do is to start working to correct your stomach acid levels; this means you’ve got to to get your stomach acid levels on the right level.
One of the first places to start would be changing your diet.
The first thing to change?
Get your gut flora in check.
I’ve written so much about gut flora and getting probiotics in your diet to help achieve good gut health; which means if you have heartburn on a consistent basis, then this is definitely one of the first places to start.
Remember the bacterial infection caused by Helicobacter pylori?
Since so many people have it and since it’s likely linked to most cases of heartburn, then it’s good to know probiotics can help battle (and defeat) this infection.
My recommendation is twofold; first, I recommend eating foods rich in probiotics. This can be fermented veggies like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, etc. while simultaneously eliminating inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy and soy.
If you do this, it will help your stomach and intestines heal, which is simply one of the best ways to promote healthy stomach acid levels.
The next thing?
Eliminate processed foods.
That’s right, you’re going to want to move your diet over to one full of unprocessed foods. For the most part, I’m referring to things you buy that come in a box that feature a long list of artificial ingredients and are rich in sugar and/or problematic ingredients like gluten, soy and dairy.
Sugar’s definitely one of the worst culprits, as it promotes inflammation (which can induce acid reflux).
You might think I’m understating things here, but I can’t stress how important it is to chew your food adequately.
Remember the very first thing you do when you start the digestion process is chewing; if you don’t get that right, then everything else is messed up. Chewing releases digestive enzymes, and these enzymes pre-digest your food before it makes it into the stomach.
Imagine what happens to your stomach if it’s trying to break down food which has only been partially digested – it’s not good. Plus, the act of chewing your food well activate the digestive centers of the stomach, which prime it to release the right amount of stomach acid to digest your food
Eating too quickly, however, robs your stomach of its ability to gear up to digest efficiently.
Taking supplements is what you’re already trained to do.
For instance, when you have heartburn, you immediately turn to a pill or a liquid to take care of it.
But why keep doing that since it doesn’t actually fix the problem and only masks it? When you take supplements, you take care of the root of the problem.
Here’s a list of some of the best supplements you can use to treat GERD:
Betaine HCL: While I’ve talked about stomach acid a bunch in this article, I never told you what that acid is called – it’s called hydrochloric acid. If you’re low on stomach acid and need to increase the amount, you can take betaine HCL (HCL stands for hydrochloric acid) to increase stomach acid. This is available online or in health food stores and is easy to supplement with.
Ideally, you’ll want to take enough pills to where you experience a slight “burn” and then take it back one pill.
Glutamine: Clinical research shows glutamine is helpful at battling acid reflux. “Research published in 2009 found that gastrointestinal damage caused by H. pylori can be addressed with the amino acid glutamine, found in many foods, including beef, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, and some fruits and vegetables. L-glutamine, the biologically active isomer of glutamine, is also widely available as a supplement.”
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D has an incredible ability to help support immune function; and, since you’ll want a strong immune system to battle an H. pylori infection, you’ll want Vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D activates the production of 200 antimicrobial peptides that can help blast out an infection in no time.
Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is naturally acidic, which helps to relieve heartburn in a few ways. One of the first is that natural acidity will help to balance acid levels in the stomach. The other way is the acid will keep yeast overgrowth down.
One of the most common yeast infections out there is known as candida, which has been shown to contribute to heartburn. So, take two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in one glass of water 3x daily and you can balance stomach acid and help knock out candida.
- B vitamins (folate): B vitamins are incredibly useful for helping regulate a wide assortment of health problems. Also, B vitamins are quite efficient at helping with treating heartburn. As clinical nutritionist Byron Richards wrote:
[A] study found that higher intake of folic acid reduced esophageal cancer risk by 44%, as well as reducing reflux and Barrett’s by similar amounts. Vitamin B6 was also significantly related to all three issues, whereas low B2 was linked to reflux.
B vitamins are not only needed for the energy required for digestion, but also to help repair inflammation and prevent excessive tissue damage that can lead to mutation of tissues and more advanced health problems.
Be Careful with Medications
Remember what I said above; there are some medications that might contribute to heartburn (and not just PPIs).
There’s been plenty of evidence to show taking drugs like the ones listed before (blood pressure meds, antidepressants, anxiety meds, aspirin, antibiotics, plus many more) will cause heartburn.
So what happens if the heartburn you have is caused by the medication you’re taking?
Well, my suggestion is to do what you can to get off them (while consulting with a doctor). Say, for instance, you’re on blood pressure medication. If you’re overweight, one of the best things you can do is to get in shape and get your blood pressure under control.
If you’re on antidepressants, look into seeing if you have MTFHR mutations and begin supplementing with methylfolate (which is already helpful at preventing heartburn).
Other things you can do when medications cause heartburn.
According to WebMD, these are some of the best tips:
- Never take more than the recommended dose.
- Pay attention to when and how you take the drug. Some medications and supplements should be taken right after a meal to make heartburn less likely; others should be taken on an empty stomach. If you are unsure, ask your doctor or pharmacist when to take each of your medications.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review everything you are taking. “It’s very important to let them know not only about your prescriptions, but also about all vitamins, minerals, and over-the-counter products you are taking,” says Heather Free, PharmD, a pharmacist in Washington, DC. Your health professional may be able to change the dose of a medication, switch you to a different medication, or suggest other ways to ease your heartburn.
- Ask if you can change the way you get your medication. For example, if you take an NSAID for arthritis, you might be able to switch from a pill to a cream that is less likely to cause heartburn.
- Don’t lie down right after you take certain medications. You should stay upright, for instance, for at least 30 minutes after taking bisphosphonates and at least 15-20 minutes after taking anti-anxiety medication or sleep aids in order to prevent heartburn.
- “Try ginger supplements or tea,” Coyle suggests. If your symptoms are worse at night, have a cup of ginger tea after dinner.
The Final Word on Heartburn
Everything you just read might seem like a lot to take in.
PPIs might be harmful, so if you have heartburn you don’t want to rely on them to treat heartburn.
Many of these steps can be taken incrementally, so it’s not like you have to try and take everything on at once.
The good news is if you try a handful of these you’ll likely see improvements within a few weeks.
Make sure to share this with anyone you know of who has GERD so they can get this valuable info ASAP.