Many Americans suffer from heartburn and acid reflux. It can be a very uncomfortable and persistent problem and, sadly, is very common. Do you ever wonder what causes heartburn? And, more importantly, how can you prevent heartburn?
Have you ever experienced heartburn? I have on rare occasion and it is not pleasant. I can not imagine experiencing it after every meal or every day! My husband used to experience it quite regularly (probably about 10-15 years ago) but doesn't anymore using techniques that I will describe further in this post.
We all know that our stomach acid (HCL) breaks down the food we eat. The inside of our stomach is protected from this acid with a mucous layer. However, if that acid refluxes up into the esophagus, then we would experience heartburn.
Once in a while, not really a big deal. But if you have heartburn often, the acid can damage the lining of the esophagus leading to more medical problems.
Most people take acid blockers as a way to stop the heartburn, pills like Prilosec or Nexium (which, like most medicines have their own risks and side effects). Makes sense, right? If the acid is causing a burning feeling, best to get rid of the acid.
Sadly, this is just one more example of our medical system's band-aid approach to a health problem. Sure, the acid blockers settle heartburn at that moment, relieving the symptoms…but they do so at the expense of your digestive system and your health.
For people who take these drugs regularly, the heartburn always returns, doesn't it? Why not stop it from happening in the first place??
There is a theory that is being supported more and more is that heartburn isn't caused by too much acid. Rather, it is caused by too little acid.
Issues such as age, diet and stress can contribute to a decrease in production of stomach acid.
What happens if there is low acid in the stomach? Well, your food doesn't get digested very well. The sugars and starches in the minimally digested carbs ferment, leading to gas and bloating. Poorly digested food and gas build up and press on the esophagus. The acidic contents of the stomach reflux into the esophagus causing heartburn.
By taking acid blockers, one is neutralizing the very environment that is SUPPOSED to be acidic. How can one possibly have healthy digestion if one of the key components to the entire process is SHUT OFF?
Improper digestion can cause a whole host of issues further down the line.
If you suffer from chronic heartburn, what are you to do? Could you take an acidic substance to help with your heartburn? You bet you can!
Add More Acid
Ideally, we would be able to get everything we need from food but sometimes supplementation can be helpful. Many people find success supplementing with acid to help control heartburn. There are two popular ways to add acid to your stomach in the hopes of preventing heartburn:
- HCL/Digestive Enzymes
- Many people find success taking HCL in a capsule form, usually in a capsule also containing other enzymes like pepsin.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Other people find success taking apple cider vinegar (1 tbsp or so) mixed in water.
Have you ever tried either of these. My husband used to get very bad reflux and he has used both of these strategies to find relief. A nutritionist he works with even recommended HCL capsules with every meal. Now we both take digestive enzymes with most of our meals. (Admittedly it is hard to remember EVERY meal!).
Those are two great strategies at helping stop heartburn, but do you know what is even better? Changing up your nutritional intake to help heal your entire digestive system!
The 30 Day Heartburn Solution
My friend, Craig Fear who blogs over at Fearless Eating is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and owner of Pioneer Valley Nutritional Therapy has an amazingly helpful book called The 30 Day Heartburn Solution.
Craig outlines, in very understandable terms, how the entire process of digestion works and why it is so important to keep your digestive system healthy and happy. He outlines 5 pillars of healthy eating, going into detail about how you can incorporate these into your daily lifestyle.
He then outlines a 3 step plan that will help you SOOTHE and REPAIR your digestive tract with the nutritional changes outlined in his 5 pillars as well as optional supplementation. (Many of these real food pillars won't be new to Oh Lardy readers!!!)And he doesn't just leave you hanging with all of this nutritional information. He gives you tons of recipes, meal plans and tutorials to help you make this transition seamlessly!
And, not only will his 30 day plan help stop your heartburn FOR GOOD, if will help with all other digestive troubles…bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, gas, weight gain, gall bladder problems, constipation and so much more.
As I said before, my husband used to have heartburn regularly. While he experienced well before Craig's amazing book, he has been able to turn it around by changing his diet to many of the pillars mentioned in the 30 Day Heartburn Solution as well as occasionally supplementing with HCL. You can stop heartburn for good!
If you suffer heartburn, I would love for you to let us know if you try Craig's program and how it works! Also, let us know what you have been doing in the comments!