Acid Reflux & GERD: Like Heartburn, It’s Really Not What You Think It Is!
The medical term for acid reflux is GERD, which means Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease. The incidence of GERD has risen dramatically over the last couple of decades and it affects tens of millions of people (probably hundreds of millions). In fact, according to Dr Leo Galland, MD, hospitalisations as a result of this disease doubled during the 1990s.
GERD and heartburn are essentially the same thing, although the pharmaceutical companies classify them differently in order to sell more drugs! We can classify GERD and heartburn differently, but only by the degree of damage they do. Other than that, heartburn and GERD are basically the same thing.
What does ‘reflux’ actually mean?
Reflux refers to the situation in which stomach contents travel back up your oesophagus. In essence, it’s food and stomach contents travelling in the wrong direction.
When stomach contents travel back up into the oesophagus, they can cause several problems:
The Heartburn Hoax
The burning and pain sensations felt in heartburn and GERD are the result of hydrochloric acid in the stomach juices irritating the delicate tissues that line the oesophagus.
Because of this, the standard treatment for heartburn and GERD is the use of antacid medications known as (proton pump inhibitors) PPIs and H2 blockers.
But here’s the thing:
GERD, heartburn and all these other symptoms are HARDLY EVER THE RESULT OF TOO MUCH ACID. I will say that again.
Excessive stomach acid is NOT the cause of heartburn and acid reflux.
This begs the question of why the antacid, PPI and H2 blocker medications have become the mainstay of treatments. There are several answers:
What Causes GERD?
GERD is not caused by excessive acid. Therefore treatments aimed at lowering acid levels simply suppress the symptom without determining the cause.
The real cause of GERD is malfunction of the lower oesophageal sphincter valve (LES) and poor oesophageal motility. The proper treatment, therefore, should be to improve LES function and oesophageal motility.
Oesophageal motility is stimulated by three major factors:
So many people I work with rush their food. They gulp it down without chewing it properly and then wonder why they don’t feel well. So the first step to overcoming GERD is to eat in a relaxed state and chew food thoroughly before swallowing.
Calcium is required for the trap door (LES) between the oesophagus and stomach to close properly. Oesophageal inflammation caused by acid reflux and GERD can interfere with the calcium balance in the cells regulating this function. In these cases, external calcium in the form of supplementation can help.
Calcium can tighten the LES and also improve motility of the oesophagus so that any stomach contents that wash up from the stomach are quickly pushed back down.
Supplemental calcium used for this purpose must be chewed or swallowed as a powder to give a positive impact and I always recommend that you seek guidance on how to use and dose the calcium properly.
Other Causes of GERD and Acid Reflux
Stomach acid is not the only irritating component of the digestive juice that refluxes into the oesophagus. The digestive juice also contains bile and powerful enzymes. Both of these have the ability to irritate the oesophagus. Suppressing acid levels with PPIs and H2 blockers may not, therefore, prevent irritation.
To put it another way, suppressing acid doesn’t stop reflux, it just makes the reflux non-acidic.
Below is a list of potential GERD triggers or causes
If you are currently suffering with acid reflux or GERD (or any upper GI symptoms), here is a checklist of the steps you MUST take in order to address your symptoms properly and also reduce your risk for developing serious diseases:
A complete guide on how to change your diet to reduce or eliminate GERD can be found in The H Pylori Diet and we also have a complete recipe and cookbook, called “Digest-Ease” that is the perfect accompaniment.
The key point I’ve tried to make in this article is that GERD, acid reflux, heartburn or whichever term you want to use to describe this set of symptoms is usually NOT caused by your stomach producing too much acid.
At risk of appearing controversial, you are being ripped off by Big Pharma. It’s great for them for you to take antacid medications for months or years on end. It’s not profitable for them if you get to the cause of the problem, which may be something as simple as removing a couple of foods from your diet, or taking some meds/herbs to eradicate H pylori bacteria or Candida.
You are only masking the symptoms by taking antacid, PPI and H2 blocker medications. In fact, taking these medications can be very harmful in the long run, potentially leading to parasite infections, symptoms in the lower part of the digestive tract, osteoporosis, B12 deficiency, iron-deficiency anaemia, life threatening colitis caused by Clostridium difficile infection and many other diseases.