Acid Reflux and GERD
Acid reflux or GERD can be very painful conditions. They can interrupt one’s joyful way of living and bring things to a halt. Most people with these ailments just “put up with it” in hopes that they will just go away. Many times they don’t. It can be very frustrating.
What is the cause?
The mistake that most people make is thinking these conditions are caused by having TOO MUCH acid in the stomach. This is a misconception. They are caused by having too little acid production in the stomach which then lends its way to bacteria overgrowth in the stomach and small intestine. Diet and lifestyle changes can eliminate these common ailments without having to resort to medication. In fact, in the case of acid reflux and GERD, medication called PPI (protein pump inhibitor) can cause more harm than good. Restoring stomach acid production and eliminating pathogenic bacterial overgrowth should be the focus of healing.
The Role of Bacteria
For GERD and acid reflux, having a low acidic environment in the stomach allows certain pathogenic bacteria to thrive. One in particular, H. pylori, is a pathogen that not only thrives in low acidic environment in the stomach and small intestines but supports its own growth by continuing to lower the acid levels. Certain foods like sugar, PRE biotics, and simple carbohydrates are feeding sources for these pathogens. A diet rich in these foods and low in stomach acid is a recipe for disaster in terms of health. Billions of pathogens will feast on these foods furthering their own production. We absolutely need certain pathogenic bacteria in our gut as they play a role in our health too. However, when they outnumber the probiotics and call the shots, disease arises.
How Fermented Foods Can Help
Fermented foods are living power house super foods that can alleviate numerous ailments including acid reflux and GERD. My two favorite ferments for these conditions is Sauerkraut and non-dairy Kefir. Here are three ways they can help:
- Restoring a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria is a key aspect for healing. As mentioned earlier, bacterial overgrowth with pathogenic bacteria is a major factor in acid reflux and GERD. Bacteria like to fight each other for space and autonomy. If healthy bacteria outnumber the pathogens, then the pathogens won’t have space to survive and thrive. Fermented foods are the number one way to re-populate your gut with friendly bacteria while maintaining a balance of pathogens. I believe that nutrients should come from food first. Ingesting fermenting food that are loaded with probiotics is a more effective way to re-populate than supplements.
- The family of bacteria called Lactobacillus, found in most fermented foods, especially when hand crafted and kept in small batch sauerkraut has been shown to be an effective measure against reflux. These microbes can relieve inflammation in the stomach which may be damaged from these conditions. Lactobacillus can help restore healthy levels of stomach acid by reducing the inflammation allowing the body to restore itself. Bitter herbs, such as caraway and fennel can help increase stomach acid production. Try eating sauerkraut with caraway and fennel to get the most bang for your buck! (My very own Fermenting Fairy Caraway-Fennel Kraut is an excellent option).
- Non-diary fermented milk, Kefir from coconut, cashew, almond or hemp is loaded with trillions of beneficial bacteria in addition to containing minerals, protein and amino acids. Drinking kefir has been shown to eradicate H. pylori by 5-15%. Sometimes absorbing nutrients from food is difficult for people with acid reflux and GERD. Kefir is a pre-digested drink that can increase the absorption rate of nutrients, minerals and probiotics.
Take Home Message
Acid reflux and GERD can be easily prevented by making simple dietary and lifestyle changes without resorting to medication. If you are already on medication, strongly consider adding fermented foods and drinks to your diet. Eating fermented foods every day with every meal will give your body the support it needs to thrive!
Find out more on gut health: www.laurenheals.com
Find out where to buy hand crafted, small batch fermented foods: www.laurenheals.com/fermenting fairy