Look at this photo, it looks like a bottle full of candy, doesn't it?
Are you popping antacids like candy?
This is the most common thing that almost every one does when feeling acidic without thinking about the cause.
But...you might want to rethink that!
Contrary to common belief, acid reflux or heartburn is not a symptom of too much acid in the stomach, but too little.
The stomach digests the food you eat with the help of hydrochloric acid (HCl) that it naturally secretes. When the HCl acid in the stomach is insufficient, the stomach wall may get damaged, giving rise to various gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomach pain and heartburn.
Taking an antacid can provide temporary relief, but it will decrease an already low amount of stomach acid, making the issue worse. In addition, any time the acid level of the stomach is reduced, you run the risk of not digesting food properly (causing more digestive problems) and of nutrients from the food not being absorbed by the body.
In addition, many commercial antacids have toxic ingredients such as aluminum and artificial colors and sweeteners. These chemicals not only disrupt digestion, but they also alter the structure and function of stomach lining cells and may cause side effects like headaches, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
There are a few other potential issues associated with frequent use of antacids, including:
Poor digestion leading to allergies, bloating and gas.
Diarrhea, loose/watery stools and abdominal bloating form when large partially digested food particles ferment and draw extra fluid into the large intestine creating gas and watery stools.
Decreased absorption of a variety of nutrients such as folic acid, vitamin C, beta carotene, iron, calcium magnesium and zinc.
Increased risk of food allergies.
Reduced effectiveness of the antacids with long term use.
Increased risk of gastrointestinal infections. The natural acid levels in the stomach kill off the bacteria, viruses and germs that we ingest everyday. Low levels of stomach acid can lead to increased infections.
Bloating: Antacids containing sodium bicarbonate and calcium bicarbonate release carbon dioxide as they neutralize stomach acid. This may cause bloating in the stomach as well as cause an increased production of stomach acid.
Electrolyte imbalance: Some antacids that are absorbed may cause acid base and electrolyte disturbances—like baking soda and bicarbonates.
Impaired kidney function and the formation of kidney stones because the kidneys have to keep up with processing the mineral components of the antacids. Chronic use of antacids contributes to a phosphate depletion syndrome (Hypophosphatemia) and kidney stones.
Increased risk of rickets (Osteomalacia) which is thinning of the bones.
In the end, the problem is that antacids simply suppress the condition and don’t get to the root cause of the digestive problems. In some instances with overuse, antacids can exacerbate the problem!
How to Deal with It
If you want to get to the core cause of the problem, you may want to address some of the following:
- Decrease dairy products except fermented (Keifer and plain yogurt)
- Don’t eat sugar with other foods since the combination can ferment in the digestive system and form toxins and gas. Yes, this means no dessert!
- Drink as little as possible with meals (water or anything else dilutes stomach acid. Drink between meals instead or take small sips with meals.)
- Eat more pineapple, papaya, kiwi and apples (all these foods are high in certain digestive enzyme)
- Take digestive enzymes such as Papain, Bromelain to help you digest your food and prevent fermentation in your gut, as well as excess acid or gases.
- Take prebiotics
- Eat mindfully, chew slowly and avoid eating under stress as high cortisol levels make you more acidic.
- Eat and drink food and beverages at room temperature. Food that is too cold or too hot, can irritate your stomach.
- Track what triggers your heartburn by keeping note of what you ate, and if/when it caused the heartburn.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Unnecessary pounds will put pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter increasing your risk of suffering from regular heartburn.
Natural Solutions to Keep the Acid at Bay
1. More Acid
It might seem quite counter intuitive when acid is burning your esophagus, to ingest even more acid. However, as mentioned above, acid reflux is often caused by having not enough acid in your stomach, rather than having too much. Try drinking some pure, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to see if this helps your reflux, or cuts it off.
All you will need to do is mix 3 teaspoons or up to 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 6-8 ounces of fresh water and drink. This can be done before a meal or before bedtime. If you feel it worsens the issue, do not continue. Too much can also contribute to the problem.
2. Eat a banana or an apple
Eating a ripe banana as the perfect antidote for some relief.
Bananas are a rich source of potassium and help keep the level of acid production in your stomach in check. Certain components in bananas can help increase the production of mucous in your stomach, which helps protect it from the harmful effects of excessive acid production. They are also high in fibre, which will help speed up digestion and prevent the reoccurrence of acidity.
Another option is to try an apple a day. Slice one up and eat it a couple of hours before bedtime to relieve or prevent discomfort.
3. Sip a Cup of Ginger Tea
Make yourself a cup of ginger tea to help ease tummy issues. Sipping a cup of fresh ginger root tea about half hour before a meal can help calm your stomach and act as an acid buffer.
Simply, slice 3-quarter-sized pieces of ginger root and simmer in 2 cups of water, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the ginger pieces, pour into a glass and drink all of it about half hour before your meal.
Heartburn and reflux can be more than a simple annoyance. Next time you are going to reach for those antacids, re-evaluate what you can do to minimize your risks. Ask yourself...are you really having full-fledged indigestion, or are you just taking the antacids out of habit?
Relying less on those antacids may be what ultimately makes it go away in the end.
Something to think about!