When that burning sensation hits your chest after a big meal you most likely reach for the antacids. The general consensus is that your acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD are due to too much stomach acid. What if I told you that the brightly-colored, candy-like chewable medicine actually exacerbates the problem rather than solves it?
That’s right, acid-blocking medications make the problem worse. In fact, the real problem is that you likely have low stomach acid.
These medications carry serious risks, too. Medicine like proton pump inhibitors that are commonly prescribed for GERD suppresses stomach acid production. This can wreak havoc on your health.
This article will discuss gut health and acid reflux symptoms and risk factors for chronic heartburn, why low stomach acid is a problem, and tips for natural digestion support for better overall health. Let’s jump right in!
GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease and is caused by frequent acid reflux.
Normally, when you swallow the muscles around your esophagus relax to allow food and liquid into your stomach. Afterward, what is called the sphincter closes behind whatever you consumed. If that muscle weakens or relaxes abnormally, excess stomach acid can flow back into your esophagus causing acid reflux and that burning sensation.
GERD is officially diagnosed if you experience mild acid reflux at least twice a week or moderate acid reflux once a week.
Of course, we are all familiar with the burning sensation associated with acid reflux. However, there are other symptoms of GERD that are not normally associated with heartburn. Those include:
It’s not unusual to experience acid reflux throughout your life. We’ve all been there during post-Thanksgiving dinner. However, it is not normal to experience chronic acid reflux. Most times, there is poor gut health and acid reflux connection. Here are a few of the risk factors for developing GERD.
The root cause of acid reflux is not an excess of stomach acid, it’s a muscle that fails to function properly. Unfortunately, while acid-blocking medications will give you temporary relief, they won’t heal the cause of your pain. Instead, they reduce the amount of stomach acid in your belly which leaves undigested food sitting there. This undigested food exacerbates the problem and leads to acid reflux.
You need the proper amount of stomach acid to digest your food and absorb nutrients. Stomach acid plays a very important role in proper digestion, helping you break down food and also killing off bad bacteria, yeast, and parasites. Adequate absorption of iron, calcium, zinc, copper, folic acid, vitamin B12, and other B vitamins requires the presence of stomach acid.
When stomach acid is low, it can leave undigested food particles, slowing down digestion. This causes a buildup of gas and pain, mimicking signs and symptoms of GERD such as indigestion, burping, bloating, and stomach pain (or burning after eating).
Contrary to what you may be thinking, low stomach acid is not the same thing as GERD. There are a lot of different reasons you may develop low stomach acid, here are a few of them:
Due to the fact that low stomach acid disrupts your digestion and absorption of nutrients, there are a variety of other conditions associated with low stomach acid.
Moreover, stomach acid is your first line of defense against harmful pathogens, making it less likely that they will take hold further along the digestive tract, making you sick. These pathogens could also cause an imbalance in your personal gut microbiome, causing issues such as small intestine bacterial overgrowth.
Here are just a few other conditions associated with low stomach acid:
With all that in mind, how can you support digestion without resorting to acid-blocking medications? Get to the root cause to improve gut health and acid reflux
Some individuals have low digestive enzymes due to leaky gut, inflammation, chronic stress and toxins. A high-quality blend of digestive enzymes can help break down food proteins, and reduce bloating and dysbiosis. You can get TDW Get Your Gut Right™ DIGEST HERE.
Betaine is a nutritional compound extracted from food sources like grains or beets. Betaine HCl is an acidic version of betaine that works in the same way as hydrochloric acid (HCl) in your stomach. You can consider taking an HCL supplement if low stomach acid is the issue. But if you don’t know whether your stomach acid is low, you can still give this supplement a try to find out. Take one capsule of HCL with water before a meal, and take note of how you feel afterward. If you experience a burning sensation, low stomach acid isn’t the issue and HCl isn’t needed. However, if you feel nothing, you probably need to add an HCL supplement to counteract your low stomach acid. Get it through my Fullscript dispensary HERE.
Ox bile is a bile extract that can be supplemented with your diet to support healthy digestion. Bile is critical for digesting and absorbing the fat in your foods and also for digesting and absorbing fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin K. I Like Seeking Health Ox Bile, you can get it HERE.
Foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, pickled ginger, and water kefir contain organic acids, enzymes, and probiotics to assist with proper digestion.
Proper eating hygiene can go a long way in supporting digestion. Eating hygiene consists of chewing your food thoroughly, limiting liquid intake during meals, eating protein foods at the beginning of a meal, and staying hydrated throughout the day.
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