If you want a real solution to acid reflux indigestion, don’t follow the conventional wisdom of conventional physicians. While drug companies and mainstream doctors maintain that acid reflux, acid indigestion and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) result from too much stomach acid, they’ve got the situation backwards: Reflux results from too little stomach acid, not too much.
Still, Big Pharma and its accomplices continue to sell us counter-productive prescription and over-the-counter antacids and prescription proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). In the long run, these alleged remedies worsen the situation.
Too Little Too Late
Acid reflux results from having too little hydrochloric acid (HCl), the “good” stomach acid. When the stomach does not produce enough HCl, foods cannot be digested properly. This causes indigestion, as food sits in the stomach far too long. The longer that food lingers, the more stomach acid is necessary to break it down. This stagnant situation leads to prolonged acid reflux.
Americans are in the habit of reaching for quick-relief tablets when experiencing pain and illness. In the case of acid indigestion, like many other health issues, the quick-relief solution offers only short-term symptomatic relief, but contributes to long-term side effects. Chronic acid reflux eventually leads to other conditions, the least of which is discomfort. For some, the end result is stomach cancer.
Taking antacids and proton pump inhibitors means that stomach acid is even further decreased. This helps the immediate pain but causes bigger problems. A decrease in good hydrochloric acid in the stomach slows digestion and leaves food sitting for a longer time. This causes food to ferment and putrefy, which generates bloating and gas and causes toxins to circulate in the body. These toxins can trigger headaches and musculoskeletal pain.
Hydrochloric acid and an enzyme called pepsin are needed in the stomach to properly digest what you eat. So slowing down digestion by halting production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach decreases how fast the body absorbs its life-enhancing nutrients.
Complicating the situation, foods that are high in fat — like burgers and fries, cake, loaded baked potatoes and the like — can also lead to acid reflux and acid indigestion. They often cause excess acid to form in the stomach simply because of the amount of time it takes for high-fat foods to break down. The longer digestion drags on, the more acid the stomach must produce. That excess stomach acid eventually leads to reflux.
Despite common beliefs, foods that are acidic — like coffee, citrus and alcohol — don’t cause acid reflux. Doctors Tonya Kaltenbach, Seth Crockett and Lauren B. Gerson reported in the May 8, 2006 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine that there is no evidence that eliminating these specific foods alleviates GERD (http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/166/9/965). However, if you are experiencing acid indigestion, these acid foods certainly can aggravate the condition temporarily.
Interestingly, while lemon is acidic, it helps to alkalize the body. Squeezing a lemon wedge into a cup of black coffee can help reduce the coffee’s acidity and, thus, prevent it from aggravating an already acid environment.
Another interesting point is that although one doesn’t normally associate beverages with reflux, soda, wine and especially beer can cause it. In fact, drinking beer can double the amount of acid your stomach produces within the hour.
The solution to curing (preventing) acid reflux and indigestion is not found in avoiding certain foods or in taking antacids and PPIs. On the contrary, a few things that are easily adopted into one’s lifestyle can do the job:
- Stop reducing your production of hydrochloric acid (HCl) by taking antacids and PPIs.
- If you experience acid indigestion, naturally relieve it by taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or drinking a glass of warm water mixed with a half-teaspoon of sea salt.
- Add lemon juice to meals and acidic drinks, like coffee, to reduce acidity.
- Eat smaller meals to speed digestion.
- Eat more alkaline foods like green leafy vegetables and less acid foods, like beef, beer and high-fat items (including dairy).
- Don’t lie down for at least 45 minutes after eating and be sure to elevate your head at least 8 inches when sleeping. According to the research of Dr. Kaltenbach, et al., these two postural changes can have the greatest influence on preventing the symptoms of GERD.
In the end, as with most health issues, making simple changes in lifestyle provides a solution. Once you know the answer is within your grasp and costs nothing, you have no excuse for suffering acute or chronic acid indigestion. Taking your health in your own hands is the only path to prevention and cure. So go ahead and make some simple changes. And stick to them. Your body, particularly your stomach, will thank you.
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