A large amount of people are affected with acid reflux worldwide. It is more common in middle-aged, overweight people, yet anyone can become affected regardless of age, gender, body type or ethnicity. Stress is a huge aggravator, as is over-eating or having a high acidic diet (not the pH of the food itself in it’s natural state, but the pH it creates once processed within our body.) This is important to understand as many people make the mistake of cutting out acidic-tasting foods, or foods which are found to be acidic in their natural state such as citrus fruits, when in actual fact they are high on the alkalising chart. (For a more detailed chart than the one pictured below check out this one from Alkalife.)
The reflux symptoms
- What we call heartburn, even though it’s not your heart that’s burning, it’s your oesophagus.
- Regurgitation or a ”wet burp” in which some of your stomach contents reach the back of your throat creating a sour taste and burning sensation, or are even vomited. (Very often sudden and without warning)
- Dyspepsia (stomach discomfort) which can include burping, nausea after eating, upper abdominal pain/discomfort and bloating.
Some of these symptoms could indicate an inflamed oesophagus, leading to tissue damage and bleeding, but the condition is rarely serious. If you have persistent indigestion and have not yet seen a doctor, I highly recommend doing so. Untreated chronic conditions usually do not have a great outcome, and to avoid complications it’s better to be safe than sorry. Having said that, making a few lifestyle changes can greatly reduce, even cure acid reflux.
The issue with pharmaceutical drugs
“Conventionally, acid reflux is thought to be caused by excessive amounts of acid in your stomach, which is why acid-blocking drugs are typically prescribed or recommended. This is a serious medical misconception that adversely affects hundreds of millions of people, as the problem usually results from having too little acid in your stomach. One of the most commonly prescribed drugs for heartburn and acid reflux are proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which are very effective at blocking acid production in your stomach. While that may sound like an appropriate remedy, considering the fact that stomach acid is creeping up your oesophagus, in most cases it’s actually the worst approach possible, as a major part of the problem is typically related to your stomach producing too little stomach acid.”
Dr. Mercola explains further on mercola.com as to what causes heartburn:
“After food passes through your oesophagus into your stomach, a muscular valve called the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) closes, preventing food or acid to move back up. Acid reflux occurs when the LES relaxes inappropriately, allowing acid from your stomach to flow (reflux) backward into your oesophagus. But it’s important to understand that acid reflux is not a disease caused by excessive acid production in your stomach; rather it’s a symptom more commonly related to:
- Hiatal hernia
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection (H. pylori bacteria is thought to affect more than half of the world’s population, and has been identified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization)
While these two conditions are unrelated, many who have a hiatal hernia also have H. pylori, which cause a chronic low-level inflammation of your stomach lining that can result in an ulcer and associated symptoms. If you have a hiatal hernia, physical therapy on the area may work and many chiropractors are skilled in this adjustment.”
The front line
Now on to the natural remedies, or as Dr. Mercola calls it ”The first line of treatment.” Which is basically adjusting your diet to help your body get back into a balanced state. This is the sweet spot where the medical and holistic world meet. When they come together in their treatment process, people get the best of both worlds.
Raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
We now know that acid reflux typically results from having too little acid in your stomach. Improve the acid content of your stomach by taking one tablespoon of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a large glass of water.
The vinegar you want is specific: Organic, unfiltered, vinegar, which is murky. That murkiness is caused by a substance called the “mother,” and it is indicative of a high-quality product. If you are considering taking apple cider vinegar medicinally, long-term excessive use could conceivably cause low potassium levels and can adversely affect your bone density – so moderation is important (as with everything in life 😉 ).
Every time is tea time
“What time is it you ask?” *checks non-existent wrist watch* “Ah! It appears to be teatime!”
Seriously though, tea is just the best and it’s definitely time to get obsessed with it if you’re suffering from acid reflux. Root ginger tea and chamomile tea are your best choices here. Ginger has a gastroprotective effect by surpressing helicobacter pylori bacteria and has shown to prevent the formation of ulcers. Best drunk 20 minutes before meal times, you can simply add a couple of fresh ginger slices to a mug of very hot water and let it steep for half an hour. Then after dinner every night, shortly before hitting the sack, have yourself a cup of chamomile tea which works to soothe stomach inflammation and aid peaceful sleep.
Sun rays and fun days
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient which ensures healthy bones, immunity and happiness. (Literally, if you don’t get enough Vitamin D you become susceptible to depression.) It’s role in immunity is important in the case of acid reflux as it optimises the production of hundreds of antimicrobial peptides (necessary for the eradication of any infection that shouldn’t be there).
You can increase your D intake via sun exposure (hence fun days!) or if that’s not available, oral Vitamin D3 supplements. It’s important to note that you should increase your Vitamin K2 intake simultaneously. To up your K consumption, eat more cooked kale, cabbage, broccoli, spinach or collards.
Raise your folate levels
Folate, otherwise known as folic acid or Vitamin B9, has been found to greatly reduce acid reflux. Low levels of B vitamins such as B2 and B6 are also linked to an increased risk of reflux. Eat more folate-rich foods such as asparagus, spinach, okra, beans, bok choy, beets, cauliflower, broccoli and chickpeas (yay hummus!)
If you’re having a really bad bout of reflux and are in a lot of pain, you can mix one-half to one full teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in an eight-ounce glass of water. Baking soda helps neutralise stomach acid and can ease the burning sensation. However, it is not recommended as a regular solution.
Long term solution
The answer to gastric issues such as acid indigestion and ulcers is to restore your natural gastric balance and function. By optimising your gut flora, you’re looking at a long-term health plan of your very own making. Healthy gut flora means increased absorption of nutrients, ensuring that your physical and mental health is in check. When your gut flora is out of balance, you as a whole will also be out of balance. Time to level things out!
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