Heartburn. Acid Reflux. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). It’s a disease that doesn’t get much media attention, but yet millions of Americans suffer from heartburn, vomiting, and painful effects of acid reflux . The woes of stomach acid trouble seem minor, but when symptoms grow severe or go untreated, GERD can lead to serious conditions like Barret’s esophagus, erosive esophagitis, and dysphagia.

The conventional medical approach to GERD is to write a prescription for a proton pump inhibitor, coating or motility agent, or a histamine blocker or antagonist. These prescriptions have shown that they can help reduce symptoms, but it’s only a matter of time until a new problem pops up and they suggest a higher dose or yet another pill to add to your breakfast of medications.

The conventional approach to treating the heartburn and reflux of GERD is to suppress the production of stomach acid. It seems logical but, actually, the body probably needs it more than anything. According to Dr. Mercola, there are over 16,000 medical articles showing that acid suppression doesn’t treat the problem. It can help to minimize symptoms, but any relief is only temporary. That’s because the primary cause of GERD may be an overabundance of the bacteria H. pylori.  

There’s still much we don’t know about Helicobacter pylori, and the studies that have been done have caused a controversy over H.pylori and GERD. Studies have to be done to filter out truth from suspicions, but there is one things that’s certain; H. pylori is indeed linked to low levels of stomach acid. This is true even amongst GERD cases attributed to hiatal hernia (a stomach wedged into the diaphragm).

But wouldn’t low stomach acid help GERD? Well, actually… No.

You see, GERD has a strong connection with low stomach acid levels. Likewise, low stomach acid levels are at higher risk of H. pylori infection because there’s less acid to keep down unfriendly bacteria. And naturally, H. pylori infections and digestion problems are tied to an unhealthy diet and lifestyle.

Treating the symptoms of heartburn, vomiting, bloating, coughing, and so on, require resolving the problems that caused GERD in the first place. That requires an integrative approach that promotes healthy digestion overall, thereby ensuring proper stomach acid, a strong digestive system, and — perhaps most important of all — an abundance of friendly bacteria.

Dr. Emeran Mayer has dived into the topic of gut microbes and health, and his research shows an incredible connection between the microbiome and mental and emotional well-being.

Mayer says that the gut is filled with trillions of microbes that live on the lining of the digestive tract (especially the intestine). It was believed these microorganisms just helped with digestion, but now it’s been discovered that they actually have receptor sites for signal molecules. Signal molecules like neurotransmitters and hormones which plays a pivotal role in mental health. That poses the question of diet and lifestyle being directly responsible for our present psychological and emotional well-being.

Clearly, a healthy diet is a must on every level– GERD, Leaky Gut, or not. Find health and relief with the recommendations below.

FERMENTED FOODS: Of all the dietary musts, probiotics are the most important. Fermented foods are packed with microbiotic organisms that will improve digestion and absorption of nutrients; plus it will reduce leaky gut and put up gut defense against microbial infections (ie. H. pylori). Everything from unpasteurized yogurt and kombucha to kimchi and pickles is going to be gut-friendly, but raw sauerkraut is especially effective because cabbage juice stimulates the production of vital stomach acid.  

EGGS: However you choose to eat them, eggs can help reflux problems because their high in amino acid L-glutamine. The body is able to produce glutamine, but it’s role in immunity and tissue repair makes it an important dietary consideration. Get extra glutamine by scrambling your eggs with kale, cabbage, legumes, and spinach; or eat them with alongside oats, quinoa, or brown rice.

HERBS: Ginger has the amazing ability to reduce H. pylori, block stomach acid, and even prevent the formation of ulcers, and it’s best used fresh. If you’d like to drink you GERD herbs, chamomile is used to help digestive problems like IBS, so there’s a good chance it’s antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and relaxation properties can help you.  Mucilage-rich herbs Slippery Elm and Licorice (specifically, DGL Licorice) can also help out by coating the throat and intestines and soothing any inflammation.

WHOLE FOODS: Processed foods should be replaced with as many whole grains and fruits and vegetables as possible. When it comes to fruits and veggies, raw and fresh is the best way to eat them. Note that some raw fruits and veggies may be hard to digest in the beginning (especially cruciferous vegetables like broccoli). Pay attention to your body and use light cooking and steaming as needed. Avoid soda, coffee, fatty and processed foods, and nicotine.

TIF PROCEDURE: Changing diet and lifestyle can have quick effects on the body, but reflux tied or obesity or severe hiatal hernia may have relief slow-coming. Acid reflux surgery and medications are the conventional recommendations, but if you want relief with pills or surgical risks, the TIF (Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication) Procedure may be able to help. Rather than cutting into the body, TIF is performed by going in through the mouth to reconstruct the antireflux valve that keep stomach acid at bay.  It can also help to reduce hiatal hernia. Severe cases of hiatal hernia could warrant surgery, but Dr. David William’s hiatal hernia exercise may be able to address that without a scalpel.    

NATURAL QUICK-FIXES: A half or full teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water will addresses painful flare-ups by neutralizing stomach acid (just don’t do this regularly because acid is vital to digestion). For health help that can be taken daily, drink a glass of water with 1 tablespoon of raw (probiotic) apple cider vinegar. It will stimulate stomach acid production and offer all of apple cider vinegar’s many benefits. For emergencies away from home, you can use chewing gum. It rockets the production of saliva which is full of compounds that help to protect the esophagus. Check out Prevention’s list of “clean” gum’s to find healthier gum options.

Healing GERD can happen. Just remember that your body is a direct result of everything that you put into it. Eat wisely and enjoy life my friends.

Resources for this article include:

GERD: Is The Damage Reversible? — Healthline
15 Natural Remedies For The Treatment Of Acid Reflux And Ulcers — Dr. Mercola
The H. Pylori Controversy: Does It Really Cause Heartburn, Acid Reflux, And GERD? — SCD Lifestyle
‘The Mind-Gut Connection’: Could Your Gut Microbes Be Affecting How You Feel? — WBUR
The TIF Procedure — GERD Help
15 Natural Remedies For Heartburn And Severe Acid Reflux — Everyday Roots