ACID REFLUX AND GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the burn in one’s chest caused by the rise of stomach acid out of the stomach and into the esophagus. Acid reflux and heart burn are other forms of GERD, but a burn by any other name hurts as bad.
This rebound of acid can burn your esophageal walls and make swallowing a painful nightmare. Mealtime goes from an event you’re excited for, to a calculation of how much pain you can endure to get a decent amount of calories.
Acid reflux has many causes including, but not limited to overeating, being overweight, fried foods, and some medications. Meaning, that for the most part, GERD and acid reflux are a result of dietary choices that can be remedied.
20% of the American population suffers from GERD, and in the last 20 years hospitalization caused by acid reflux disease has gone up 216%.
Acid reflux is no small issue as it’s grown to epidemic proportions. It’s gotten so bad that it seems like you can’t watch t.v. and get through one commercial break without seeing an ad for a prescription PPI drug or acid blockers.
And these prescriptions are really good at treating the symptoms of acid reflux as long as you continue to take them and can afford them…
…and as long as you don’t suffer from any of the side-effects.
Let’s take a quick look at the known and possible side effects of one of the leading drugs prescribed for GERD:
Low magnesium levels
Here’s where it gets crazy-
Signs of Lupus
Signs of infection
Yellow skin and eyes
And a disclaimer at the bottom states, “this is not a complete list of side effects.” The best additional side effect, for pure comedy purposes, has to be worsening of acid reflux. Why take a drug for acid reflux that can make your acid reflux worse?
There must be a better way, right? Something out there must treat the source of the problem and not just the symptoms.
Treating only the symptoms keeps Americans spending millions of dollars a year on acid reflux drugs, so why would drug companies want to treat the cause?
Luckily, you don’t have to rely on pharma companies to correct acid reflux. You can do it without putting extra chemicals in your body, and you can enjoy food again along the way.
Low-carb living can help GERD sufferers by providing a diet that promotes healthy acid production and assists in weight loss, a major factor contributing to GERD’s damage-causing effects.
Let’s get a little deeper into how acid reflux occurs.
It was thought for quite a long time that acid-levels in the stomach are what caused acid to reflux into the esophagus; this assumption made sense, too much stomach acid means more to bubble up out of the stomach and cause the problems. Reduce the acid and reduce the acid reflux.
But again, antacids treat the pain not the cause.
Because the truth is, any amount of stomach acid can cause reflux pain. The stomach has a lining that protects it from the erosion properties and irritation or stomach acid. The esophagus isn’t so lucky. It was never meant to deal with acid, so no lining exists to prevent the irritation that takes place when acid leaks up, past the lower esophageal valve, called the LES.
The true cause of GERD, once you learn it, makes even more sense. How does the acid go up? Something must be forcing it in the wrong direction.
This is where intra-abdominal pressure comes in. IAP is the bloating and distention of the stomach. High carbohydrate foods, especially carbs like grains and refined sugars ferment in the stomach and cause gas pressures to build. This high pressured gas can push the fermenting stomach contents up towards the esophageal valve.
Being overweight, some drugs, overeating, smoking, pregnancy, and tight clothes can all put undo pressure on your LES valve and cause it to open when it shouldn’t, allowing the acid to move up into the esophagus and burn the lining, causing terrible pain.
High-carb foods and foods that are already high in acid –think coffee and chocolate- can lead to this bloat. But there’s another issue at play here:
Treating acid reflux by reducing stomach acid actually works with high-carb foods to create a carbohydrate malabsorption. Meaning the carbs aren’t being used and are left in the stomach where they ferment and create the distention that forces the acid up.
Lower stomach acid contributes to the problem by allowing bacterial overgrowth. Gut bacteria is good when kept in check. What keeps gut bacteria from growing out of control? A stomach acid with a PH of 3.
But when antacids and acid blockers are used for longer periods of time to treat the symptoms, the stomach’s acid PH goes to 5 or higher which allows the bacteria to survive longer that it needs to for digestion.
Suddenly you’ve got more carbs that can’t be absorbed properly and a colony of bacteria that allowed to thrive with no acid to keep them from getting out of hand.
This is a perfect recipe for the fermentation and gas build up that leads to acid being forced to go the wrong way.
Caution, contents under pressure.
At this point, you’ve essentially make yourself into a walking beer brewery.
Eating a low-carb, ketogenic diet allows for proper carb absorption since there won’t be an abundance of carbohydrates, and there certainly won’t be any grain or sugar to assist the gaseous fermentation process.
Living low-carb also means you won’t need antacids or prescriptions which, in addition to saving a lot of money, means your stomach acid can rebound to normal levels and a proper PH will be reached, eliminating the excess bacteria that assist the bloat.
The other wonderful benefit of low-carb dieting (the benefit that brings most people to the ketogenic diet in the first place) is the diet’s ability to help people lose fat weight very quickly.
Losing weight, no longer being obese or overweight can help correct the esophageal valve weakness that allows acid back up.
Those 3 beneficial side effects of low-carb dieting are a recipe for total correction of a stomach and esophagus plagued by GERD. Not a treatment, not a temporary fix, but an actual cure that stops the problem before it can begin.
THE PROOF IS IN THE LOW-CARB PUDDING
It’s one thing to talk about how low-carb works to correct GERD, it’s quite another to prove it.
HERE is a study done on exactly what we are talking about: “Dietary Carbohydrate Intake, Insulin Resistance, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): A Pilot Study in European- and African-American Obese Women.”
Feel free to read it yourself, but here are the cliffnotes:
GERD is most prevalent in women of African-American descent and European- American descent. Acid reflux problems tend to hit overweight people harder, as discussed above.
Due to these prerequisites, 144 obese women with diagnosed cases of GERD of African-American and European-American ancestry were chosen for a study in which all of the women were placed on a low-carb diet.
In 10 weeks of low-carb/ high-fat dieting, all 144 women showed no signs of GERD symptoms and all 144 of them were 100% off of GERD medication.
It’s popular on medical sites to find articles about living with GERD: how limit the pain and discomfort, about standing up for an hour after your eat, about not wearing tight or binding clothes.
But you don’t have to live with GERD, you can stop it, and cure yourself of the pain once and for all. You can saved hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year on acid reflux drugs or hospitalization.
All you have to do is switch to a low-carb diet that has already shown dozens of other health benefits.