Dealing with Heartburn

by: Cassandra Stirling

What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux disease, otherwise known as GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease) affects one in three people in the United States. The condition more often relates to acid spewing out of the stomach (where it is supposed to be) into the esophagus, thereby causing the burning symptoms.  This happens because the valve between the stomach and the esophagus does not remain closed.

Symptoms of acid reflux disease:

  • Persistent heartburn
  • Acid regurgitation, and possible vomiting
  • Bitter taste in mouth or bad breath
  • Chest pain not related to the heart
  • Difficulty swallowing or a feeling of food stuck in the throat
  • Dry cough
  • Harsh voice in the morning

 

If a malfunctioning or weak valve is the cause of your heartburn symptoms then care must be taken to avoid foods and behaviors that increase the likelihood that the stomach contents will spew over.  Here are some things you can do:

1.    Eat an alkaline diet with emphasis on eliminating caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.  These things are known to weaken or "relax" the valve, making reflux more likely. Certain drugs may also contribute to heartburn by relaxing the valve or stimulating acid secretion by the stomach.

2.    Avoid overeating which increases likelihood of flow back.

3.    Keep you weight in check.  People who are overweight may be more likely to develop acid reflux disease.  Many pregnant women experience this due to weight gain and pressure on the stomach.  Try this DVD: 7 lbs in 7 Days.

4.    Avoid wearing tight fitting pants and clothes. Excessive pressure on the stomach can also make it easier for the stomach acids to flow back into the esophagus.

5.    Avoid stress or learn to channel it appropriately.  According to studies, people who are stressed are more likely to suffer from heartburn associated with acid reflux disease.  Relieving stress can be as simple as listening to stress relieving cds.

6.    Avoid processed foods especially sugar as they encourage overgrowth of the bad bacteria.

7.    Avoid other foods known to be triggers including chocolate, fatty foods, garlic, onions, spicy foods, tomato based foods, and in some cases citrus fruits.

Still Experiencing Heartburn?

If none of the above things are working for you than maybe your heartburn is not being caused by GERD.   What many people and even doctors overlook is the fact that the common symptom “heartburn” can also be caused by a bacteria called H.pylori.  What is worse is that the very antacids that many people take or are being prescribed to deal with the heartburn can be exacerbating the situation.  Common symptoms of H. pylori include burning stomach, usually in the area just beneath the ribs.  The pain typically gets worse when your stomach is empty and improves when you eat food, drink milk, or take an antacid.

What is H. pylori?

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacteria that can weaken the protective coating of the stomach and the first part of the small intestines (duodenum), allowing damaging digestive juices to irritate their sensitive linings.  This results in gastritis and many of the same symptoms as GERD.  Moreover, it is also the bacterium responsible for most ulcers. If Helicobacter pylori are present in the stomach for a long time, it may damage the cells that produce hydrochloric acid. This leads to low stomach acid.  When stomach acid is low, it becomes very difficult to digest food. As a result, food sits in the stomach and putrefies and this process gives off gases and causes a burning sensation in the stomach and/or throat.

Unfortunately, many people including doctors see the classic symptoms of heartburn; bloating, nausea, frequent burping, and they therefore prescribe acid-lowering drugs or antacids.  This will mask the symptoms but will not take care of the H. Pylori – the underlying culprit. When you decrease the acid, you decrease the ability of your body to kill the H. pylori because it needs the high stomach acid to kill this organism.  In fact, more stomach acid needs to be added to kill off the H. pylori.  This combined with certain lifestyle modifications will prevent the H. pylori from taking over again in the future.

More than 60% of the world's population harbor H. pylori in their upper GI tract, however most of the individuals infected with the bacterium have no symptoms.  This is because these people are able to maintain a normal stomach acid.  People who do not maintain a high stomach acid are often the ones who lead not so healthy lifestyles (for instance by consuming excessive alcohol and/or caffeine, smoking, eating a highly processed food diet and taking certain prescription and non prescription drugs).  These things can upset the balance and as a result, the existing H. pylori take over.

Thousands of articles support the premise that suppressing acid does not treat the problem of H. pylori, just the symptoms.  Prescription medications like proton pump inhibitors may relieve the pain however

they make the underlying condition worse and promote dependency on them.  Some increase your risk of bone fractures and some may decrease your levels of magnesium.  You can ask your doctor to test you for the H. pylori bacteria.  It can easily be treated with antibiotics.  However there are some natural things you can do that have been found to be just as effective in treating H. pylori:

Thing you can do:

  1. As always, eat a whole food alkaline diet rich in leafy greens to encourage the right bacteria to inhabit your body.
  2. Take betaine HCL.  In order to determine the amount you need, increase your dosage until you feel a burning in the stomach. The amount you need is the amount you were taking before the burning or worm feeling started.  Stay at that dose until H. Pylori are eliminated and the heartburn subsides.
  3. Take a high quality sea salt like Himalayan sea salt.  It provides your body with the chloride to make the HCL.
  4. Ensure you get enough vitamin D to improve your immunity.    It is best to get it from the sun however if you live in a colder climate you can take oral vitamin D3.  You can get a blood test to check your vitamin D levels.  You want to make sure you don’t take too much.
  5. Exercise to improve immunity.  This will keep your body in tiptop shape and help with digestion.  It will also help you keep your weight in check and will help you to deal with stress.  You don’t need to join a gym. Try the DVD “Cardio for Beginners.”
  6. Take a probiotic supplement to replenish the good bacteria in your gut or eat fermented foods.

 

Regardless if your symptoms are due to GERD or H. pylori or any other reason, an alkaline lifestyle will certainly benefit you in all aspects of health and wellbeing.

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These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration.  The preceding information and/or products are for educational purposes only and are not meant to diagnose, prescribe, or treat illness. Please consult your doctor before making any changes or before starting ANY exercise or nutritional supplement program or before using this information or any product during pregnancy or if you have a serious medical condition.


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