GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. It’s a more serious form of acid reflux and it’s become an epidemic in the US. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Digestive Diseases, twenty five million people experience it daily.
The more I research GERD and through the training I received at the Academy of Culinary Nutrition, I’ve learned there’s a more natural way of dealing with the disease. I’m not a doctor. I don’t claim this to be a total fix but if there’s a way to get relief without having to spend money on drugs with ingredients you don’t know, wouldn’t you try it?
We hear that GERD is caused by too much acid in our stomach. My research shows something different. Actually, something the exact opposite. Too little acid.
A lot of times Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s) (Nexium and Prevacid are two examples) are prescribed for GERD. PPI’s work well to block acid production in the stomach. They also work well in helping the growth of helicobacter bacteria, a bad bacteria known to cause Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection.
GERD is something to not take lightly. It’s been known to cause scarring, constriction, ulceration, and ultimately, cancer of the esophagus. Recent studies have showed that not only can it affect the esophagus, it can also travel down to affect the gastrointestinal lining.
Antacids and PPI’s will relieve symptoms since acid in the esophagus is what’s causing the pain. That’s all they’re doing. Relieving symptoms. They aren’t resolving the underlying issue.
So what’s the underlying issue? The lower esophageal valve or LES. It’s a muscular valve separating the stomach from the end of the esophagus. When there’s pressure in the stomach (bloating), the acid is pushed into the esophagus. Things like overeating, obesity, bending over or lying down after eating and eating spicy or fatty foods are all thought to contribute to this pressure.
Other studies show that malabsorption of carbohydrates and bacterial overgrowth contribute to the abdominal pressure. These two things are triggered by low stomach acid.
Wondering how to treat GERD? Reduce bacterial overgrowth and low stomach acid and put back helpful bacteria and mucosal lining in the gut.
Here are practical ways to do it:
- Eat a low carb diet or a specific carb diet (SCD)/GAPs diet. (google this and tons of recipes and ideas on what to eat will appear)
- Reduce your intake of fructose and artificial sweeteners (they increase bacterial overgrowth)
- Stay away from high fiber diets (high fiber contributes to bacterial overgrowth)
- With a doctor’s oversight, take HCL (hydrochloric acid)
- Take bitter herbs. (stimulates acid production) The most well-known of these are below and can be taken as follows – 5-10 drops of a 1:5 tincture in 20 mL of water:
- Goldenseal root
- Milk thistle
- If you’re not into herbs, try drinking/eating these things:
- Apple cider vinegar (try 1T in a glass of water)
- Lemon juice (½ lemon in a glass of water)
- Raw (unpasteurized) sauerkraut
- Avoid consuming liquids during meals. Especially water since it can dilute the concentration of stomach acid. Wine, however, (a few sips) can be beneficial.
- Add the good bacteria to your gut with probiotics. You can take these in pill form but you can also get them (in higher doses) through food. Eat fermented foods like sauerkraut and pickles mentioned above. Kombucha is another good choice.
- Eat homemade bone broth to help restore your gut lining. It also helps people with ulcers because of the gelatin and collagen content.
GERD is serious, but hopefully with this information you can put yourself on track to heal from it without having to resort to prescriptions. Sometimes they’re needed, but sometimes we are capable of healing ourselves with things that are natural and well within our reach.
Here’s to eradicating GERD naturally!