Welcome back to another episode of the functional health show! I believe that I have a lot to share with you’ll today so let’s jump right in!! In the last 2 episodes we discussed how stomach acid is so important when it comes to overall health, we looked at the causes that give rise to hypochlorhydria (that’s sub-optimal stomach acid) & symptoms related to it. While also looking at some tests which could help confirm this. From lesser know cheap & even controversial do-it-yourselves at-home tests to lab tests. If you haven’t listened to these episodes, I’d highly encourage you to do so before you get on with this one.
So, in today’s episode we’ll be discussing acid reflux & GERD’ or ‘Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease or Disorder’ (However you’d like to call it) & solutions to combat it. But before we begin & a bit out of context, I just wanted to say this one thing that, I’m usually not a big fan of speaking about disease labels or stressing on them too much because I feel that it unnecessarily causes a lot of overwhelm & fear. After all, what matters is the root cause or causes that are actually causing all downstream problems in the first place & if we address them, well, the labels probably won’t matter much any which ways. So we should try and cultivate a mindset where we’re looking beyond a disease label & trying to understand & question the symptoms that you have. And you don’t have to be a doctor to understand what you body’s trying to tell you & what you might be doing that’s causing it to give out a distress signal.
Okay, so lets get started. A quick gist on acid reflux, its basically the acid creeping up into the esophagus causing symptoms such as burning sensation in the chest or even chest pain, indigestion, feeling of heaviness, difficulty in swallowing, a feeling of congestion in the throat marked by repeated clearing of the throat, bloating, gas, a sour taste in the mouth. The idea or general belief is that chronic acid reflux is what leads to GERD. A worsening of the symptom of acid reflux over time which has its repercussions & I guess there’s no denying that.
Before we get to addressing the low stomach acid, let’s first address acid reflux or GERD. Because it can so happen that sometimes acid reflux or GERD could be due to other factors, not necessarily low stomach acid. Though its most likely to be related to sub-optimal stomach acid. Anyways, the point is, we’d want to bring in some some rapid relief & reduce the instances of reflux so that we are also able to downscale the administration of medications & antacids. So let’s try & address them first before we get onto low stomach acid & H.pylori overgrowth.
In the center of the chest, there is a small muscular tunnel between the esophagus & stomach, it’s called the ‘Lower Esophageal Sphincter’. It is like a doorway more like a closed fist. During your meals this doorway is more like a fist that is open & loose, and at all other times this doorway is tightly shut! So, acid reflux is when this doorway has a malfunction, when it can’t remain tightly closed when it needs to by default. It is important to note that the lower esophageal sphincter or LES, this doorway is acid-dependent, what that means is, the more acidic the contents of the stomach acid, the more tightly the LES will close & if it is not acidic enough, the LES, this doorway will not be tightly shut thus enabling the stomach acid to reach up & into the esophagus.
Now, you might be having a question. If the stomach acid is not acidic enough then what’s causing the pain, the burning sensation in our throat, our esophagus. Well, it’s the pepsin, it is the enzyme that breaks down the protein & guess what the esophagus is made out of? Proteins. So, the damage caused by pepsin which is present in the stomach acid to our esophagus over time due to acid reflux is what we call GERD (1).
To address this problem, we’ll have to Start with first of all, addressing the factors that were discussed in the last episode that has a negative impact on stomach acid. Like, not being stressed especially around mealtimes. It’s important to be calm & relaxed while also remembering to chew your food properly & not drink too much liquid especially alkaline liquids like sodas! That’s a big no-no since it not just dilutes stomach acid but goes a step further in alkalizing it! Don’t overeat because that’ll result in the LES blowing open by the sheer volume of food that is being crammed into the belly! Live by the Japanese 80% diet rule, stop when you’re 80% full. The people in Okinawa swear by it for a reason. Don’t wear tight clothing around your midsection especially belts or waistband because it can put tremendous pressure on your digestive organs & push food & digestive fluids physically upwards & beyond the LES.
Deficiency of magnesium! Its such an important mineral, considering the fact that most us of are deficient in this important mineral due to its depletion in our agricultural soils. If you remember from one of the episodes on magnesium, its called the relaxation mineral. So when its deficient, our muscles are tight & experience spasms. And guess what, our digestive tract & the LES, they’re also muscles! And what do you think will happen if the LES spasms erratically….? And on the other hand, the deficiency could also be that of calcium because calcium is responsible for muscle contractions. And when calcium is out of balance, you can expect that most likely Vitamin D might be off-scale too. Now, that doesn’t mean that you jump onto calcium & vitamin D supplementation! Where there is supplementation involved you’ve got to be careful. I’ll be talking about supplementation in one of the upcoming episodes. But surely what you can do now & always, its getting enough exposure to sunlight. While also considering intake of organ meats or optionally having desiccated beef organs for example in a supplement form since its very nutrient dense. Actually this whole deficiency thing becomes more of a ‘What came first, the chicken or the egg!?’ kind of scenario. As we know hypochlorhydria impairs mineral & B12 absorption.
There are also some foods that could be causing an irritation to the LES & we could consider to stop the intake of these foods on a temporary basis especially if you’re suffering from episodes of reflux on a daily basis & having medications & antacids to address it. Some of the main trigger foods include, cooked tomato sauce, black tea, coffee, citrus juices, sodas, alcohol, spicy foods, products containing mint, chocolate, fried foods. For the time being if you can eliminate or at-least reduce the consumption of the foods in this list that triggers acid reflux would really help in achieving some rapid relief. Actually a good place to start with regards to elimination would be dairy, things like milk, ice cream, cheese, cream, etc. In most cases it brings tremendous relief. And if you find there’s not much relief or no relief at all, then you can move forward & eliminate gluten & soy because its likely that you could’ve developed food sensitivities which usually starts with these foods, including casein & perhaps in some cases, even corn.
There might be other food sensitivities at play too which we’ll get into in another episode. Basically, you’ve got to play around & experiment with foods. We are all different & unique individuals so its not possible to provide you with a comprehensive list or a direct answer, because there isn’t any! It depends from person to person. My job is not to give you answers because in the first place there isn’t one answer that applies to everybody. My job is to provide you with the tools that’ll help you to figure out your own unique answer.
Moving forward, you’ve gotta be aware of reflux trigger due to pharmaceutical drugs such as nitrates, anticholinergics, benzodiazepines which are commonly prescribed for anxiety or insomnia, calcium channel blockers which are used for hypertension & theophylline. If that’s the case, you’ll need to talk to your doctor. I would also recommend that if there is a suspicion of hiatal hernia, its better to test & check it out.
With that we wrap up today’s episode. Next episode we’ll be discussing about H.pylori & how to combat its overgrowth, supporting & repairing our mucous membrane & solutions to re-acidify the stomach acid. See you tomorrow, until then, have a nice day or evening!