The burn I’m talking about is the sensation you may feel when you eat or drink certain foods and affects sixty million people at least once a month and twenty five million experience heartburn daily according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Digestive Diseases. GERD (Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease) is a more serious form of acid reflux and is the most common digestive disorder in the United States, which is increasing steadily. You may be asking why this topic of heartburn is relevant in a blog related to being Bride Fit? I know this is not a sexy topic such as healthy relationship habits, workouts to get a ‘wedding dress ready body,’ or what to eat for a glowing complexion, but knowing the cause (it’s not what you may think) and reversal of this very unpleasant symptom is invaluable because living with the symptoms of acid reflux is not sexy! My hope is that you will use this information to help yourself, your fiancé and loved ones.
Unfortunately, most people confuse common issues with normal issues. Heartburn is common but not normal. It’s a sign your body is giving you to make you aware that something is not functioning correctly. The very sad case is if you seek advice from conventional medicine doctors or listen to the commercials that promote Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) drugs (acid blocking medication), the advice and suggestions will be to basically put a Band-Aid on the problem by suppressing the symptoms but not addressing and correcting the root cause.
If you ask the average Mary on the street what causes heartburn, she’ll tell you “too much stomach acid.” That’s what most of the ads and commercials for acid suppressing drugs suggest. Sounds like a reasonable theory but it’s a similar to the misconception that fat makes you fat, it’s NOT accurate. I’m not saying that acid isn’t the cause of the burn, it is, but it’s not because there’s too much. Even a tiny amount of stomach acid causes damage and pain because the esophagus is not designed to tolerate it like the stomach lining is.
The questions are why is the acid going into the esophagus, and how is the root of the problem corrected, which will eliminate the symptoms?
You may assume the cause or heartburn is too much stomach acid because acid blocking medications such as Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid usually work at eliminating the symptom of acid reflux by suppressing acid so that assumption is a reasonable one. But remember even a little bit of acid in the esophagus causes pain so by taking an acid suppressing medication you are eliminating all stomach acid, therefore you don’t feel the burn BUT by suppressing stomach acid you are actually making the root cause worse! The truth is the root of the problem is the complete opposite of too much acid! Yep, the root of the problem may actually be not enough stomach acid! Not the answer you expected, I know it seems illogical.
I’m sure we can agree that the popular belief is that too much stomach acid causes heartburn. Instead, the prevailing scientific theory is that GERD or heartburn is caused by a dysfunction of the valve that separates the lower end of the esophagus and the stomach. The valve is called a sphincter and is known as the lower esophageal valve, or LES. (Just thought you would want to know the correct term in case you want to sound ‘sciency’ when sharing this information with friends!) The only reason this valve should open is when you swallow food and liquids and also when you need to burp. If the LES is working properly then it doesn’t matter how much acid is in our stomachs, it’s not going to make it back up into the esophagus. BUT if the LES is malfunctioning, acid from the stomach gets into the esophagus, causes the burn (not sexy) and damages the lining. The problem is that the valve is opening and allowing stomach acid into the esophagus but the question is why is the LES not working properly? Now we are getting closer to the root of the problem!
Acid reflux occurs when pressure causes stomach bloating and pushes the stomach contents, including acid, through the LES and into the esophagus.
What’s causing the pressure? Some common ideas are overeating, obesity, bending down or laying down after eating, and consuming fatty or spicy foods. These are definitely factors but according to microbiologist Dr. Norm Robillard in his book, Heartburn Cured, argues that carbohydrate malabsorption leads to bacterial overgrowth, resulting in pressure in the stomach, which causes the acid reflux.
What’s causing the malabsorption that is leading to the bacterial overgrowth? Chris Kresser, an authority in functional medicine, states in his e-book, GERD/Heartburn, that his research had led him to believe low stomach acid is the root cause.
Taking acid suppressing medication is like taking Advil for pain in your foot caused by a rock in your shoe. It may take away the pain temporarily but if you take the rock out of your shoe, you won’t have the pain! Unfortunately, pharmaceutical companies aren’t interested in cures because they aren’t profitable. Did I mention that pharmaceutical companies make $7 Billion Dollars per year in acid suppression drugs? It’s much more lucrative to sell drugs that people have to take for the rest of their lives than it is to promote dietary or lifestyle changes that would cure the problem.
What can you do in place of taking medication to suppress the symptoms of acid reflux?
If you have GERD or heartburn I’m going to give you 3 Simple Steps to eliminate heartburn forever:
- Reduce factors that increase bacteria overgrowth. Eating a low carb diet is a great start. Greatly reduce or better yet, eliminating complex carbohydrates that are processed. They include pasta, cereal, crackers and cookies you find in packages at the supermarket. This is supportive of you Bride Fit diet and will accelerate your plan to get ‘wedding dress ready!’ In addition, artificial sweeteners and fructose have been shown to increase bacterial overgrowth. All artificial sweeteners should be completely eliminated as part of a healthy Bride Fit diet and reduce fructose (especially in the processed form).
- Replace stomach acid, digestive enzymes and nutrients that aid in digestion. Raw (unpasteurized) apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, raw sauerkraut and pickles are traditional remedies that often relieve the symptoms of heartburn and GERD. Add one tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink prior to eating. Don’t drink plain water while you are eating because it reduces the stomach acid further. Actually some wine or sips of water containing lemon or raw apple cider vinegar is beneficial! These remedies may resolve symptoms and will increase nutrient absorption but you may need HCL supplements in addition, especially for those who have been taking acid suppressing drugs for a long period. It may be necessary to replace nutrients such as B12, folic acid, calcium, iron and zinc. It’s best to get your levels tested by a qualified medical practitioner, seek out practitioners who practice functional medicine.
- Restore beneficial bacteria and gut lining. Adding in a probiotics will restore the beneficial bacteria. If you like Kombucha, fermented tea, that’s a great way to drink beneficial bacteria! You can find in the refrigerator sections at Target and Costco these days! In addition, eating fermented sauerkraut and pickles will give you beneficial bacteria. Not all probiotics are created equal, in the case of GERD and heartburn my mentor, Chris Kresser, recommends Prescript-Assist Probiotic. When it comes to healing gut lining the best recommendation is bone broth. This tonic will not only heal your gut but also give you a flawless glowing complexion! Making your own broth is easy but I know how busy life gets especially when planning a wedding! This is my favorite source for the highest quality bone broth when there’s no time to make a batch.
As your Bride Fit coach in addition to looking fit & fabulous on your wedding day, I want you to feel amazing and be in the best possible health! Join my on-line Exceptional Bride program today for the roadmap to getting ‘wedding dress ready’ and learn all the secrets to living ‘happily & healthily ever after’ with your fiancé. Have an amazing week!