Are you feeling the burn a little too often with acid reflux? If you’re chewing antacids like PEZ candy and you’re still on fire, it’s time to take a look for the root cause of your pain.
Today, I’m going to talk a little bit about acid reflux, also known as GERD, Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disorder.
When people suffer with acid reflux, they usually take over the counter medications like antacids like Tums and Rolaids. They’ll take H2 blockers like Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac, and then Proton Pump Inhibitors like Prozac, Nexium, Prevacid, and Protonix.
Sometimes this helps to manage the pain but it may not provide a long term solution. While these drugs treat the discomfort of heartburn, many of my patients find that when they start taking the pills and when pain and burning returns, they realize they aren’t treating it at all.
As with all medicines, even over the counter medications, sometimes they can do more harm than good. On top of that, they will not heal your acid reflux and it can also allow bacterial overgrowth to take root and cause more serious issues.
Do you know that most people have acid reflux because they have too little stomach acid? So when there’s too little stomach acid, you cannot digest your food properly.
When people do not have sufficient stomach acid, food can sit in the stomach and ferment causing gas and discomfort. Normally, your stomach produces acid to digest food and kills germs. There is a mucus barrier that protects your stomach from this corrosive acid.
Now when this barrier breaks down, one can experience an ulcer. The other problem is when the band at the top of the stomach connecting to the esophagus, known as the lower esophageal sphincter weakens or becomes compromised, acid from the stomach regurgitates means it reflexes into the esophagus and travels towards the throat.
This is why many people complain of burning in their chest and in their throat. Having enough stomach acid also protects us against pathogens and other bacteria that can take root in the gut, crowding out the beneficial gut floor.
Not having enough stomach acid can also cause gut dysbiosis and SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). This is where bacteria find its way into the small intestines where it doesn’t belong.
So here are a few ways to treat reflux, help manage your burn and improve overall gut health:
- Manage cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone and when out of balance can create a physiological imbalance. Cortisol is a stress hormone and is important for gastric acid secretion and digestion.
- Increase stomach acid for better digestion– think of enzymes and digestive aids.
- Consider an elimination nutrition protocol.
- Slow down your eating and chew thoroughly.
- Create a healthy eating environment.
- Consider testing for underlying gut bugs such as H. pylori and bacterial overgrowth, which may contribute to GI related complaints.
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