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Acid Reflux - Cool Off Your Burning Desire

Updated: Sep 23, 2023

Hello friends! Today I want to talk about the ever so common and dreaded... Acid Reflux. You know that burning and uncomfortable feeling in your stomach that slyly moves up your esophagus. So, let's begin with learning about the stomach. Inside this wonderful organ is a substance called hydrochloric acid (HCI) which is produced to further break down food and to kill off bacteria and pathogens before entering your small intestines. This acid is strong enough to annihilate lots of things. Think about the acid that burns through the skin. So, of course, if this acid presents itself in the body where it doesn't belong.... ouch! It is burning you along the way. Most of you, I'm sure have heard of the acid but there is also another digestive juice in your stomach: pepsin. This enzyme helps break down the protein you eat. HCI is what activates the enzyme to go and break down these mighty proteins. What happens when pepsin is in the wrong place.... uh oh... it begins to try to break down any organ not coated with the stomach's same protective coating. i.e. the lining of your esophagus Double ouch! These juices rising up through the esophagus isn't signs of TOO MUCH acid so taking drugs like PPI's and TUMS are only masking the problems. You may actually need to look at a good Betaine HCL supplement! But in them meantime... Good news! Let's discuss some root causes and how to nip it in the bud at its source instead of masking the symptoms. Per functional medicine insight of finding root causes, here are 10 tips to cool off the burn for good: 1. Wear clothes that actually fit. You are probably thinking "what? This is tip number 1?" YES! If you are wearing clothing that is too tight around your midsection, imagine what it is actually doing to your internal organs. Pushing, squeezing, prodding, and punching. This can push food around, cut off blood circulation to your organs, impede your digestion, and move food back up out of the stomach. (Talk to any woman who has ever been pregnant lol) So, either buy clothes that fit you comfortably or if you have some excess fat - better yet, let's work together to release the fat around your organs so your organs AND YOU can breathe more freely. 2. Eating before bed? Let's refrain from that, shall we? Acid reflux can develop its worst symptoms at night. Why? As we begin to wind down for sleep, melatonin rises and our muscles begin to relax. If we have food in our stomach, this can cause some of the food to begin trying to come back up through the esophageal sphincter at the top of our stomach that is meant to keep our food down; especially when we become horizontal in bed. Refraining from eating 2-3 hours before bed can keep this at bay AND improve our sleep so our bodies can focus on healing, recovery, and detoxing while we slumber. PS if you find yourself starving at night focus on setting consistent meal times throughout the day and eating enough calories in those meals so your body isn't screaming "I'M HUNGRY" every night. 3. Speaking of portions and enough calories throughout the day... this doesn't mean blowing and going with huge meals. That sphincter I mentioned above can only stay closed and do it's job as long as it isn't being pushed back open i.e. eating too much in one sitting. Although our stomachs do stretch a bit when we eat, if we eat too much for it to handle there is only one direction for it to go... back up. The stomach will not release the food into your stomach until it is broken down enough. Try to pay attention to your hunger cues while you are eating. At the moment when you are no longer hungry, stop. Your brain is 20 minutes behind your stomach. If you eat until you are full... you've gone too far. Eating small meals and grazing, though, are two different things. Our bodies need time to fully digest what we've eaten. Think of it as a cleaning service. Your body goes through a cleaning service 2-3 hours after you eat to help your body detox. If you are eating every 2 hours, your body isn't able to detox properly. So keep to appropriate portions every 4-5 hours and you'll notice a huge difference! 4. During those meal times, are you loading up trying to get your water intake in? Too much water or liquids during a meal can impact your digestion. The HCI - the acid you need to break down food - gets diluted and so what happens? Food just sits there... like a lump in your stomach unable to break down properly. It's fine to take sips as needed during meals but digestion is most important at that time. If the food isn't digesting properly, it results in fermenting (fermenting = gas y'all). That gas will come out one way or the other and for acid reflux suffers imagine it's like a teapot sending the gas back up the pipe. Instead, try drinking your water first thing in the morning, between meals, and then a big glass of water 20 minutes before you eat. It takes 15-20 minutes for the water to leave the stomach. 5. How are you eating during mealtime? Are you in a hurry trying to rush around or are you slowly and mindfully enjoying every bite? The thing to remember: digestion begins in the MOUTH. This is where we initially break down food. Not just with our teeth but also our saliva. We have enzymes in our saliva that break down food to prepare it for your stomach acid. Our food is meant to be almost liquid by the time it reaches our stomach. Try to chew each bite 20-30 times before swallowing. You can even put down your fork between bites, in the beginning, to get used to this as a habit. This may sound silly to you but it will do wonders for how well your digestion will improve! 6. Are you eating foods that make your esophageal sphincter spasm? The most common foods are cooked tomato sauce, citrus juices, coffee, black tea, soda, alcohol, peppery or spicy foods, fried food, chocolate, and things with mint in them (e.g. gum, mints, toothpaste, tea). You may think "I'm not giving up these foods! I'd rather just take a pill." Just remember that pills don't fix the problem, they only mask it and actually cause further problems down the line which will call for.... more pills... and the cycle continues. What I focus on is the root cause. How can we HEAL so we can live a healthy and vital life?! Eliminating – or at least dramatically reducing – these foods while working on other root causes can bring important rapid relief. Note that elimination is not permanent but can be essential. What's your burning desire? 7. Speaking of eliminating foods... have you been tested for food sensitivities? Studies show that most people experience acid reflux triggers from foods like dairy, gluten, and soy. Other foods can also cause this depending on the person and the condition of their gut. (leaky gut anyone?) If you don't want to get tested for food sensitivities, keep a food diary of the foods you eat most often.... then eliminate them. I know I know! I said it! Eliminate it for 3-4 weeks. Not FOREVER! When bringing them back in, do one food every 3 days. Your body will tell you exactly which foods it doesn't want you eating anymore. 8. Are you Magnesium deficient? Depending on your diet, you could be! Magnesium helps our muscles relax and restore. If we are low, they can tighten and restrict. The sphincter(s) in your body are no exception to the rule. The Glycinate form of Magnesium is the best form for absorption unless you have constipation on the regular. If that's the case, try Magnesium Citrate. 9. STRESS!!!!! Isn't that how we all feel at some point or another? lol We always have to be doing and going. It's like some badge of honor to be freaking "busy" all the time. Or a great excuse for saying no to a request instead of just simply saying "no". Right? But when we are stressed all the time, our parasympathetic nervous system (or "rest and digest") never turns on. Literally, your body thinks it has to be running from a bear 24/7 when in reality it's our brain telling us "you haven't even done the laundry!". Silly right? When did our to-do list become as important as a life-saving act like running from a bear? But it has. For me included. But this stress can cause acid reflux. Especially, if we are stressing when we are supposed to be digesting. Perspective here is key! Most things are NOT important enough to be totally stressing over. There are tons of ways to manage your stress. (Another topic for another day) - For tips, email me or continue reading my newsletters! 10. Are your medications causing your acid reflux? Again, here is our cycle of symptoms pill talk. I understand that there are specific cases where medications are NECESSARY and life-saving! Please don't misconstrue. However, I also think that so many people would rather take a quick-fix pill than make lifestyle changes in order to improve their health. In that case, unfortunately, there are side effects - including acid reflux. These include a rich variety of oral drugs such as nitrates, anticholinergics, benzodiazepines (common for anxiety or insomnia), calcium channel blockers (common for hypertension), and theophylline. If you are taking prescription drugs for a health issue, please consult with your doctor. Simultaneously, you can set up a discovery call with me so we can, together, find ways to give you more freedom and health in your body! If all else fails, definitely check with your doctor. Prolonged use of PPI's, TUMS, etc can cause adverse responses in the body so it's best to get to the root cause before you realize you've been on acid reducers for years on end and now have more problems than just discomfort.

Which tip from above is something you found most interesting and would like to try? Comment below and let me know!

________________________________________________________ May you live your life with purpose, passion, and joy. Have Courage, my Friends!

In Health & Wellness,

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