I started thinking about acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), or heartburn (dyspepsia), because of late I’ve had numerous new clients that have this very issue.
It raises the question of how common this issue really is- but when we go to the drugstore and see aisles full of tablets and liquids to help with these conditions, we know the very answer.
The issue is everywhere!! Chances are love, that you reading this probably know someone that has suffered/is suffering from one of these conditions.
In 2001, the antacid medications of Prilosec and Prevacid ranked second and third in the largest sums of money spent on any prescription medication, with sales exceeding $7 billion along on just those two medications!!
Sadly, most people do not do much to change their diet- instead they go right for the pills. I saw this horrible commercial lately with the almost exact wording, “Chug that coffee…Eat that burrito… then take __________ for your heartburn.” I mean really???
Can you believe that is really promoted? But then again, the reality is that companies make money by promoting drugs and pills, not promoting a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Let’s take a closer examination of the issue in the first place. Our lower esophageal sphincter (LES, but not Lower East Side 🙂 ) is a natural anti-reflux barrier like a gate to protect the stomach. When we eat or drink anything the LES relaxes to allow the substances to pass through, but then returns to a closed position.
The issue is when the LES relaxes at inappropriate times, such as between meals. This can cause digestive acids to flow back up into the esophagus from the stomach, creating that horrible acid feeling!
How can we naturally alleviate this condition, which can really adversely affect our lives? With diet. Food alone can really help- and it can also help in a non-direct way by alleviating a major root cause of this issue: constipation.
A researcher of gastrointestinal disease from Yale University believes that over 90% of GERD cases in Western populations are a direct result of constipation (S.J. Sontag, “Defining GERD,” Yale J Biol Med 72, no. 2-3 (March-June 1999): 69-80).
Severe straining to evacuate hard matter from the body (which is the byproduct of a problematic diet in the first place!) forces the stomach up into the chest from the abdomen. As a result of all that straining and forceful pressure, the natural opening in the muscular diaphragm through which the esophagus passes is widened.
Over time, part of the stomach is up in the chest cavity, (which by the way can also be cause by excessive abdominal fat), and when we inhale, pressure is exerted on the stomach and acid is pulled up into the esophagus.
So what is the first thing we need to do? Drink the Green Smoothie! More greens, fruits and vegetables! More dietary fiber! Our poop shouldn’t be allowed to get so hard and tough that we are straining so hard to go to the bathroom!!
That is what happened when we eat lots of concentrated meat and dairy problems (to mention only one of the issues with these foods). The SAD (Standard American Diet) is a recipe for acid reflux disaster with lots of meatball sandwiches, mac and cheese, pot roast and potato dishes- you know, the typical fare that is seen as food in the Western world.
A high fat diet (again often animal products like cheese are the major culprit) can overdistend the stomach and cause heartburn. Need another reason to give up coffee? Both regular and decaf coffee are extremely acid-forming in the stomach and can contribute to LES dysfunction.
Switch to herbal tea!! If you have a sensitive stomach you might be best to avoid raw onions, hot spices, straight fruit juice (which I recommend no one drinks anyways), and even radishes.
Sure we can always just go to the store and buy some pills to cover up the discomfort. But that in no way gets to the root cause. If we keep eating the way we are eating, we will consistently feel pain and have GERD!
As with all pills and meds, there are side effects, such as possibly interfering with our hormones and metabolism (especially the H2 receptor antagonists).
Years of unhealthful eating may have caused GERD and LES dysfunction. Here is what we can do from a lifestyle standpoint:
– Switch to a plant-based diet, where greens, vegetables, fruit, nuts and certain non-GMO grains (like quinoa) are the basis of what you are eating every day. Low in fat, and high in fiber.
– Don’t overdistend your stomach by stuffing yourself silly. Eat slowly so you truly stop eating when you are full!
– Lose weight if you have excessive belly fat. Have the Green Smoothie for breakfast!
– Cut out coffee.
– Use antacid medications as a last resort- not casually! Work to change your diet instead of covering thing up.
I’ve seen lots of relief with numerous clients by following these simple guidelines. I hope they help you also! Here’s to a happy LES for all of us (Isn’t that a happy abbreviation, versus saying lower esophageal sphincter?? 🙂 ).
One other thing I will leave you with is my diet for acid reflux, a true miracle worker for anyone with a sensitive stomach.
I’m leaving for Virginia Thursday to go work with a client, then back down to Atlanta. I’ll write more from there!
Sending my love!!
Great post thank you! Will you be teaching your Thursday class?
Great post. Question: do you think it is imperative to soak grains (ie quinoa) overnight before cooking to remove enzyme inhibitors? Keep running into that thought and wondered what you thought. Looove this blog. Thanks!!
We have a yoga class here in my very small city in Québec, Canada…I just joined yesterday and I was very pleased that the focus of this session will be meditation…I really want to add this to my life along with your superb advise. Many of my friends tasted my morning green smoothie and they love it!
I tried your flax seed bread, the truffles and the key lime fat burning bars…anyway, this was just a short message to thank you again for you excellent advise! I get all the compliments but you deserve a part of them:-) Bye Bye, Martyne
ive been enjoying your blog for a while now, but this is my first time actually commenting. my bf makes fun of me for listening to you, but it’s ok =). thanks for maintaining this blog so well. it’s been so useful for me cuz im trying to achieve a healthier lifestyle.
you mentioned in this post that you wouldn’t recommend drinking straight juice. i dont have a blender, so i’ve been using a juicer to make a version of your green smoothie (saving up for a vitamix baby!). so my question is would juicing real fruits be okay?
also, i hate to admit this, but im one of those asians that turns bright red/purple when drinking and have found that pepcid ac takes care of that problem. i guess i shouldnt be using it like that huh?
thanks so much kim!
Why would your bf make fun of you for listening to me? That is odd. Tell him thousands of people are in our community, and I’ve had up to 20 million people watch my TV segments. Is he threatened by health information?
If you juice fruit along with greens that is okay- but straight fruit is just way too much sugar. If you get red while drinking it means you are allergic! I think you already know that :). Drink slower and on an empty stomach so you don’t have to drink as much. Maybe certain alcohols like beer trigger it more? If so you could try switching to wine. No pepcid acid, which will mess with your body for no reason!!
thanks for getting back to me! i think i lack the enzyme to break down alcohol, and it doesn’t matter what i drink – i turn beet red no matter what drink or how little i have. but i have laid off the pepcid cuz ive realized that i shouldn’t use it so casually. as for my bf, he just teases me. just mocking, nothing mean, so i dont think he’s threatened. i guess i have to do a better job of explaining to him the hows and whys of things. =)
I’m down with the LES abbreviation. Ha! 😉 Like you, I find that particular commercial appalling. Kind of reminds me of doctors offering nasty OTC or RX nasal sprays to clear the nose and sinuses when a simple neti pot habit will do.
Yes love! I love the neti pot!
As someone that has suffered from this, I can tell you for me it is 100 PERCENT diet related. It also has to do with food accumulating in the stomach and not enough digestive fluids being produced to properly digest the food. It is pretty common as you get older to not be able to produce as much digestive enzymes and acid.
How I have resolved or at least controlled the situation is to eat more greens. Greens do not require massive amounts of stomach acid to digest. If I eat something a little heavier, I will finish the meal with FRESH citrus. Citrus is acidic, but alkaline to the body. Citrus also stimulates digestive juices.
I am lucky. Living in Florida, I can just walk outside and grab fruit from August to March right off the tree. DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT try this with processed citrus. That ish that comes from Tropicana in a carton at the grocery store will burn a hole in your esophagus and is acidic forming in the body.
Its funny, Kim. I have found that spices, radishes and raw onions to be great for the condition. Cabbage, Celery and papaya some of the best foods. I guess it is different for different people. For me, Anything raw soothes. Cooked foods not so much. Processed bake goods, pasta, cooked or canned tomatoes, and processed citrus absolutely lights my stomach on fire and I avoid it like the plague.
Bottom-line is, the condition can be controlled. Nexus, Aciphex and the like are poison and cause long term conditions that are worse than the GERD itself.
Why don’t you advocate natural fruit juices?
And, while I’ve got you here, I’ve been wanting to ask: What do you eat when you have the munchies??? I seem to be having them a lot lately! (I haven’t been keeping to the eating every few hours a day and have really lapsed in the last week between the hustle and the bustle. I know I need to get back on track, but wondered if you have any ideas for these off times?)
Well bottled fruit juices are pasteurized and 100% useless.
If you have a juicer, you should make green juice and mix greens in with the fruit to balance all the fruit sugar.
Make sure you are eating proper meals so you aren’t eating constantly! I use chlorella tablets when I get the munchies and they really help me. See my post on my Food LIfesaver. xx Kimberly
Great article Kimberly! I suffered from acid reflux for years, and I came to most of these conclusions through my own experimentation. Once I cut out coffee and stopped eating so much meat, my problems literally disappeared overnight. Keep up the great work! You can follow me at http://twitter.com/mikecesa
Smoothies work for me, green leafy w/fruit for taste, looks like its smoothies from here on in, limit the booze and coffee (if I can).
The gluten protein is also the cause of acid reflux. 1 out of 7 people have a gluten sensitivity. Gluten is the hardest protein for your body to digest. If you want to really “cure” your heartburn, you need to create a food journal, eliminate gluten and all gmo products for at least a month.
I know this article is older but I linked to it after seeing another article. wanted to just share two items. First, I ‘ve read that as one ages the stomach will often produce less acid but has the same symptoms as too much acid. In that case, not good to take antacids. Can have doctor check it or (and this sounds awful but works) you can take a teaspoon of apple vinegar. If sensation stops after taking the vinegar, its a sign of too little acid in stomach. Not sure if this is diet related or not.
The second item is acid reflux if not corrected by diet or medication can lead to damage to the lining in the esophageas. (not sure if i spelled that correctly). A friend of my mother’s recently passed away because of this condition. IN her situation, the damage could not be repaired through surgery. This can be life threatening and to think it can be preventable by how we care for ourselves through exercise, diet and maintaining a healthy weight. Very sad. She was a very kind woman and engaged to someone she loved. She was 54 years old. She was obese partly due to being confined to a wheelchair.
Finally, to Kimberly…glad you enjoyed Atlanta, it’s my city and I love the green – right now turning to golds, yellows and reds. We’re in an office tower just outside the perimeter and can see the various cityscapes rising from a blanket of green from my office each day.
Thank you for all your advice, your book and the information. I love your site.
thanks for sharing. That is very sad indeed.
It is my hope that more and more people will take control of their health through their diet, and not just rely on meds.
Thank you and come visit me again!
PS- I head back to ATL in a few weeks!
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This is the first time I have come across your blog and I have found it incredibly helpful.
I’m 21 years old and I have suffered from eosinophilic esophagitis for as long as I can remember. Since I turned 18 I have been constantly in and out of hospital for different reasons relating to severe reflux and other EE symptoms. I have been through everything from steroids to esophageal dilation and NOT ONCE has a single doctor suggested that a change in my diet could help to reduce symptoms. Instead I have been on varying daily doses of up to 100mg of omeprazole which has really messed up the acidity level in my stomach and I have become extremely dependent on medication which apparently does not help my condition one bit.
So thank you for shining light on something that has taken control of my life! Hopefully I can phase out heavy medication and begin to take a more natural approach to managing my illness.
Started the blossoming beauty part of Kimberly’s detox book. I have acid reflux and tried the meds for it and all made me sick – the only remedy that works is Tums. I started the blossom phase because have a hard time digesting fruits high in fructose content. So far 5 weeks in and IBS no more as go to bathroom everyday. Have been off milk and wheat,high fructose corn syrup and corn products since turned 37 when my digestive system took a turn for the worst – I was having episodes of IBS,acid reflux,anxiety and panic attacks the heartburn was so bad, dry eyes, ears humming you name it -thought was going thru peri menopause but all due to acid reflux. So my question is any suggestions of food to eat for my acid reflux. I have a hard time with the spices in the meals but do ok with turmeric, zucchini in the veggie quinoa dish not so good, cauliflower soup is the best, onions are a big no no- major heartburn. I am super sensitive and I get even more sensitive around ovulation time and during my period. I am still learning the recipes but any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated!
I wan’t aware that constipation was such an important factor in causing GERD and heartburn. I will address this issue more, and carry out more research into this area. Thanks for the great information
I just wanted to run a few things by you if at all possible. I am a 37 yr old woman who has for the past few years suffered with acid reflux. My DR put me on nexium which I was on for 2 years, but I found the hair loss, dizzy spells, brain fog etc to be unbearable. Interestingly enouh, she also tried to up my dose to 40’s when my acid reflux started getting bad again. You should see my hair, my three year old baby girl has ten times the ponytail that I do, it is totally depressing. I also suffer with cystic acne. Not a huge amount, but enough to be really annoying and embarrassing. My DR then put me on Zoton, same problems, and now has me on a trial of ZANTAC h2 antagonist for a minimum of 2 months. I am still suffering with reflux.
I have for the last month been trying to follow your plan, having the green smoothie every morning, but I have also found that I am getting really constipated. Not to mention passing really really bad smelling gas. My dietitian, who now wants me to follow the FODMAPS diet, said that I was most likely eating too much of the smoothie ( about two full cups a morning, quite thick, not very runny). I stopped the GGS for about a week and noticed that the foul odour also stopped. So I have now cut out the apples and pears ( as they are high in fructose and sugar polyols) from the smoothie and have left only the greens and a banana and lemon. I intend to start back on the smoothie tomorrow, just without the apples and pears.
Just wondering if anyone else has had bad gas on the GGS?
Any thoughts on the FODMAPS as I know that fermentable foods are a big part of your diet?
I would really appreciate any response, feel like I am in acid reflux nightmare! I love your book, I just don’t know whether to listen to my dietitian with the fodmaps diet, or keep going with you.
All the best take care, Nat.
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