What is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is a common condition where you experience a burning sensation in your chest known as heartburn or GERD. This condition can make it difficult to digest foods normally and may cause a chronic sore throat along with a sharp pain and nausea especially when you lay down to sleep at night.
The Underlying Root Causes
- The first and most common cause of acid reflux is a deficiency in chlorides and potassium. These are minerals that are needed in your body to build healthy levels of stomach acid.
- High levels of mental stress will turn off the “rest and digest” part of your nervous system causing the LES valve above your stomach to stay open and acid to leach upwards.
- Antacid medications – although these are designed to help you the truth is that common antacids are neutralizing your stomach acid which makes acid reflux worse over time.
- If your stomach lining has been damaged it can easily get infected with a harmful bacteria called helicobacter pylori which lowers your stomach acid as its survival strategy.
- Eating refined grains which contain gluten irritates the stomach lining in most people, along with sugar and inflammatory vegetable oils.
- A history of taking antibiotics or other painkiller medications can damage the mucus layer in your gut and harm your friendly bacteria leading to acid reflux.
So, what’s really going?
Your stomach naturally holds very strong stomach acid which is important as it’s needed to breakdown and digest the foods that you eat. Just above your stomach and at the bottom of your food pipe there’s a little valve made of muscle called the LES sphincter. This valve opens when you eat allowing food to get to your stomach. The rest of the time however this valve is supposed to squeeze tight and stay closed to prevent stomach acid from getting up your food pipe and into your throat. Unfortunately, this LES valve often becomes weaker in many people, and it stops closing, remaining relaxed between swallows. This allows stomach acids and digestive enzymes to start moving upwards and regurgitating into your food pipe and your throat. This can cause a burning sensation in your chest behind the breastbone especially when you lay down because it’s easier for the acid to flow back up the pipe. You may also have the sensation that there’s a lump in your throat. Another sign of acid reflux is when sour tasting stomach fluids and food start back flowing and regurgitating into your mouth and these acids cause inflammation sometimes making it hard to swallow. This can cause a sore throat and a buildup of mucus when you wake up each day giving you the urge to clear your throat or cough on a regular basis.
Studies show us that acid reflux is caused by having the wrong level of acid in the stomach. Stomach acid should naturally be between 1 and 3 on the pH scale, which is very strong, in order to help breakdown and digest your foods. However, if this acid becomes too alkaline the little valve becomes loose and the acid starts refluxing into your food pipe. If left untreated acid reflux can lead to ulcers, damage and scar tissue in your esophagus which prevents you from swallowing food properly and ultimately can raise the risk of throat cancer. The very last thing that you want to do is take an antacid drug. It may relieve your symptoms for a short time, but it will also raise the pH and neutralize your important stomach acid making acid reflux much worse over time.
We’re going to explore five vitamins that can be used to help stop acid reflux permanently by restoring the normal pH of the stomach and allow this valve to close. We’ll also look at the simple lifestyle changes that you need to make to fix the root of the problem.
As always, we recommend you speak to your healthcare provider if you have any medical concerns.
- Betaine hydrochloride with pepsin
Betaine hydrochloride is by far one of the best supplements to help stop acid reflux by fixing the root of the problem. You can take two to four capsules of betaine hydrochloride before eating a meal to start acidifying the pH of your stomach. This will help you to digest food better, the LES valve will tighten up, and start working normally preventing reflux. Try following this protocol for two to three days and if you need to you can slowly add more capsules each time until you feel better. Over the course of the few weeks your stomach acids will build back up and your digestive system will start working normally.
Acid reflux can be extremely painful and uncomfortable especially when you’re trying to sleep at night and the pain can keep you awake. When you feel heartburn coming on consider chewing on a fresh slice of ginger root. The natural liquids inside ginger root contain powerful phenolic compounds that soothe the tissues in your food pipe and stomach lining to ease the inflammation caused by the acid. Ginger has actually been used for thousands of years and it’s well known for its ability to soothe and heal GI irritation, nausea, acid reflux and indigestion. If you wish you can get dried ginger powder capsules and take one to two after your meal to help prevent acid reflux and to support your digestion. You can also remove the peel from a fresh slice of ginger and then shave the ginger into your salads, stir fries or you can make a spicy drink with ice and cold water and perhaps even a little lemon juice.
Probiotics are live, friendly bacteria and friendly yeasts which live in your large intestine and help with digesting your food. They also make neurotransmitters for your brain such as acetylcholine. This is what we call the gut brain axis or the gut as your “second brain”. These friendly microbes help to stimulate certain nerves which controls the opening and closing of the LES valve above your stomach to make it open when you eat and close again when you stop eating. Basically, if you have lots of friendly microbes living in your gut, you’re much less likely to have acid reflux, indigestion, ulcers, gastritis, IBS, SIBO and autoimmune diseases because they help to keep the whole system healthy and working normally. Unfortunately, many people don’t have enough friendly bacteria because they are easily killed off by antibiotic drugs, medications, artificial sweeteners, and junk foods which can all lead to acid reflux. So, to fix this problem simply start eating fermented foods that are rich in lactic acid bacteria such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and pickles on a regular basis. These foods are rich in live probiotics that will help to heal your digestive system and improve your overall health.
- Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is perhaps the most well-known natural remedy for treating indigestion, heartburn, and digestive problems. Simply mix one tablespoon of organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and drink this in a tall glass of water with a straw before every single meal. This liquid contains acetic acid which helps to correct the pH of your stomach helping to digest foods better and prevent acid reflux and GERD. Acetic acid from apple cider vinegar is a type of short chain fatty acid which also supports the cells in your colon providing them with energy so that you can digest foods and absorb vitamins and nutrients properly. Many people find that apple cider vinegar is one of the most simple and effective remedies for acid reflux. However, if you’re in a situation where you have an extremely inflamed throat or food pipe you may want to take two to three apple cider vinegar capsules before each meal instead as these will be less irritating to your esophagus.
- Zinc L-Carnosine
Zinc is an essential mineral that the body needs to heal tissues especially the cells on the inside of your body. What’s very interesting is the Japanese developed healing compound called zinc L-carnosine which they have used for almost 30 years to treat stomach ulcers. Zinc L-Carnosine is very effective because it works to restore the protective mucus barrier in your gut and throughout your digestive system helping the cells to heal and repair. The zinc mineral in general also prevents an overgrowth of harmful microbes like H-pylori in your stomach. You can take 70 milligrams of zinc L-Carnosine daily in a supplement if you wish. Zinc is an essential mineral needed by men and women so getting it from healthy food sources like shellfish, grass fed red meats and pumpkin seeds is also recommended.
Simple Lifestyle Changes
Start eating raw shredded cabbage daily. You can use any type of cabbage like red, purple, green, Savoy or even sauerkraut in a delicious salad. All types of cabbage are rich in glutamine chlorophyll and vitamin C which all help to heal your stomach lining, esophagus and intestines from any type of damage that’s already been caused by the acid.
Reduce refined grains and vegetable oils from your diet like bread, biscuits, cereals, pasta, pastries, corn oil, soy oil, canola etc. as these will all irritate the lining of your stomach. You want to replace these highly processed foods with filling, satisfying, whole Foods like pasture raised eggs, wild fish, grass fed meats, extra virgin olive oil and steamed vegetables.
Start sprinkling Himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt on your meals. These provide chlorides which helps your stomach to build hydrochloric acid.
You should also make sure that you’re eating foods that are high in potassium as these activate cells that support stomach acid production. Some suggestions are avocados, leafy greens, wild salmon, beet tops, squash and brussels sprouts.
Also when you’re eating trying to chew your food more often to help break it down and make it easier on your stomach.
In the morning when you first wake up drink a tall glass of carbonated mineral water on an empty stomach this will hydrate your digestive tract and the slight acidity will help to strengthen the pH of your stomach.
Cut back on tea and coffee for awhile until you get your ass in reflux under control.
If you’re living in a state of stress or struggling to sleep well at night you must find ways to relax and get this under control as stress over stimulates your sympathetic nervous system keeping the valve open. Try taking long, slow walks in nature at least 45 minutes a day to bring in lots of oxygen and calm your nervous system down. Also eating probiotic rich foods daily will help to manage stress and heal your entire digestive system.
As a retired registered massage therapist, I’ve always been interested in health. I grew up loving sports so that carried into my adult life in my chosen career paths and in my personal life. I now stay active with weight training, hiking and biking. My professional life has always been in health care. This has inspired me to seek out and adopt a life of natural health and wellness.