GERD Post-Thanksgiving Talk 11-28-11

GERD Post Thanksgiving Talk 11-28-11

Good morning on this Monday after Thanksgiving.  What could be more appropriate, after the usual round of overeating than discussing the all too common experience of acid indigestion, heartburn, GERD AND repairing the cause of indigestion.

Every one of us has experienced it at one time or another, burning in the back of the throat radiating with a sharp pain into the chest after eating.  So what do we do?  We reach for a Tums, Rolaids or a purple pill to block the painful acid bubbling up from the stomach.

The myth surrounding this highly prevalent condition is that acid reflux results from too much stomach acid while the cure is to take products that block the production of stomach acid.

This myth is so pervasive that antacids are currently the largest selling medicines in the country, an amount totaling billions of dollars per year.  Greater than One half of Americans who suffer from ANY FORM OF stomach problems are treated with some form of acid blocker.

BUT the truth is…

acid reflux can actually be caused by inadequate production, not overproduction of stomach acid.

And another surprise is that, reflux generally results from the consumption of high refined carbohydrates, sugars, large meals… low in quality proteins.

People are being prescribed drugs for heartburn when it is one of the easiest medical problems to treat.   In fact studies show that, in a majority of cases, in changing from highly refined foods to lower carbohydrates, higher fiber, higher protein and smaller meals… the symptoms of gastric reflux resolve in one week!

In Contrast; by using antacids, blocking stomach acid, the stomach compensates by producing more and more acid, a rebound acid production, creating addictions to antacids.

A brief illustration of the function of stomach acid will demonstrate why I can make these bold statements.

Producing acid is a natural function of the stomach in response to eating proteins.  In fact, the acid helps stomach enzymes assume their proper form, so without stomach acid the entire digestive system is thrown off.

Stomach acid benefits us by killing microorganisms that we ingest on foods, thus protecting us from GI infections.

There is a serious misconception in the basic pathology of gastric reflux.  REFLUX IS NOT DUE TO AN OVERPRODUCTION OF ACID:  it’s due to POOR DIGESTION causing inappropriate relaxation of the esophageal sphincter (A muscle that constricts to block reflux moving from the stomach into the esophagus).

The solution is to support acid production by optimizing a healthy eating plan.

DR Jonathan Wright, makes the case in a different way.  He observes that the incidence of indigestion, heartburn and GERD increases with age, while stomach acid levels decline with age.  If too much acid were causing these problems, teenagers should have frequent heartburn, while the elderly should have much less.  Of course, as everyone knows, exactly the opposite is generally true.

So much for digestion 101.

The question is what should you do to correct the problem?

Begin by; changing from refined foods to lower carbohydrates, higher fiber, higher protein with smaller meals… you will see results….

I will have a wonderful list of about a dozen simple step you can take to prevent this condition and these helpful steps can be seen on my website.

Interesting, isn’t it, how the same culprits—highly refined carbohydrates and sugar seem to be involved in so many of our conversations.

    CUT DOWN ON OR ELIMINATE REFINED CARBOHYDRATES AND SUGAR IN YOUR DIET!  Many of my patients who have cut refined carbohydrates and increased protein for weight loss have noticed a complete cessation of gastritis, reflux and indigestion
  2. Stop smoking and reduce coffee and alcohol.
  3. Eliminate antacids – if you have to take them, take one occasionally.  Remember, antacids aggravate, causing rebound acid reflux.
  4. Work with your holistic practitioner to guide you to replenish your stomach acid with cheap and effective HCL capsules taken at the beginning of each meal. (warning- Never use HCL capsules while you are taking aspirin or any form of NSAI)
  5. Take anti-oxidants – it has been found that low levels of C, E and antioxidants encourage the growth of H pylori bacteria, a bacterium whose overgrowth is associated with gastric ulcers and reflux pain.
  6. Use Aloe Vera gel – a tablespoon rapidly soothes and heals the gut wall lining.
  7. Try Deglycerized licorice, DGL, does not reduce stomach acid but improves the protective substances in the stomach lining. Chewing DGL tablets combined with aloe gel gives incredible relief and healing.
  8. Utilize both vitamin C and an herb called Mastic gum along with bentonite, goldenseal and grapefruit seed extract as potent blockers of H pylori.
  9. Taking large amounts of filtered water between meals can assist digestion.
  10. Try a product called Sea Cure. It can also be effective in healing and nourishing the bowel wall and can be helpful in a variety of bowel disorders.
  11. The use of Cod Liver Oil is very important for healing the stomach wall lining. The vitamin D, A, and essential oil, omega 3 in Cod Liver Oil work synergistically to heal the stomach.
  12. Probiotics are essential for normalizing bowel function and protecting the stomach wall lining.
  13. Ingest adequate Fiber for regular bowels.

Interesting, isn’t it, how the same culprits—highly refined carbohydrates and sugar seem to be involved in so many of our conversations.