Easing out the acid reflux!


Is your acid reflux and heartburn keeping you from achieving your optimal? And impacting your work and life balance? Acidity and heartburn are usually treated with medications like PPIs and antacids. If you take antacids more than several times a week for your condition, it’s time to look deeper and find answers about what’s causing this to happen in the first place!

Many of you must have suffered from acid reflux and heartburn at some point in your life and must have been advised to pop an acid-blocking, or proton pump medication because that is the approach that mainstream traditional and conventional medicine takes to treating GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and heartburn conditions. They may give you symptomatic and temporary relief but wreak havoc on the digestive system when consumed long-term. Unfortunately, not only do these medications fail to address the underlying cause but make the condition worse, and cause a whole lot of side effects. Prolonged use of acid-blocking medication can cause Vitamin B12 deficiency, low magnesium, low calcium, and pathogenic & bacterial infections to occur, to name a few.

Acid blocking medication works in this way by blocking or reducing the production of stomach acid levels. You need adequate stomach acid to kill opportunistic pathogens, help properly digest food, and maintain optimal health. Reduced stomach acid correlates with a wide range of health problems, and acid blocking medications can easily exacerbate the condition. The stomach is also the first line of defense, as it helps in killing any unwanted bacteria or pathogen that you may have consumed with the food.  As most bacteria cant survive the stomach’s highly acidic environment.  If you don’t have enough stomach acid, many of the pathogens that would normally be destroyed may survive the stomach and make their way into the rest of the GI tract. This can lead to chronic gut infections, impaired digestion, and an increase in heartburn and GERD.

Stomach acid also helps your body absorb many macro- and micronutrients. HCL stimulates the release of pancreatic enzymes and bile into the small intestine to help metabolize carbohydrates and fats. Without enough acid, your body can’t digest carbohydrates properly. Those undigested carbs are then fermented by bacteria in a process that generates excess hydrogen gas. Again, that excess gas increases  and contributes to GERD. This is how these drugs promote bacterial overgrowth, reduce absorption of nutrients, and increase likelihood of developing digestive distress like IBS, SIBO, bloating, gut dysbiosis and leaky gut. It’s clear that the risk of these drugs don’t outweigh the short term relief they give.

Understanding GERD

GERD is a condition that is caused by recurring acid reflux. When you swallow, the muscle around the bottom of your esophagus relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow into your stomach. After the food moves down, the sphincter closes behind it. If that muscle relaxes abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into your esophagus, causing acid reflux or “heartburn.” When this happens too often, one can be diagnosed with GERD.

Signs & Symptoms of GERD

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Chronic cough
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Feeling of a lump/ irritation in the throat
  • Burning sensation in the throat or chest, after eating

Factors that promote GERD include:

  • Hiatal hernia
  • Pregnancy
  • Bad bacteria or yeast
  • Food that triggers heartburn- spicy, citrus, tomato based foods,
  • Fried and processed foods
  • Alcohol, caffeine and smoking
  • Acid blocking medications

Most common cause of acid reflux is Hypochlorhydria or low stomach acid. We need proper stomach acid to break down the foods we eat. When our stomach acid is low, it can leave undigested food particles, slowing down digestion. This causes a buildup of gas and pain, showing signs and symptoms of GERD such as indigestion, burping, bloating, and stomach pain (or burning after eating).

Reasons for Hypochlorhydria or low-stomach acid:

  • Pylori infections (causes stomach ulcers)
  • Prolonged use of acid blocking medication
  • Vitamin deficiency (B vitamins & zinc)
  • Chronic stress
  • Age (acid levels decrease as we age)

If you think you have low stomach acid levels, you can simply test yourself at home.

Test your stomach acid level : Baking Soda Test

One of the easiest ways to know whether or not you have enough stomach acid, is to take the baking soda test. Take the test as soon as you wake up in the morning and do it for 3 days consecutively to see conclusive results.

First thing in the morning (before eating or drinking anything), mix 1/4 spoon of baking soda in one cup cold water and drink the solution. The baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) together, create a chemical reaction in your stomach and release carbon dioxide gas which causes burping.

If your stomach is producing adequate amounts of stomach acid you’ll probably burp within two to three minutes. Any burping that takes longer may indicate a low stomach acid level.

Ways to Improve GERD and Heartburn:

  • Digestive bitters (dandelion, gentian root, caraway, ginger)- make concoction in hot water and have 15 minutes before meals
  • Lemon juice – Take 15 minutes before meals
  • Apple cider vinegar- Take 15 minutes before meals
  • Add probiotics- helps add healthy bacteria to the gut, that helps break down food and relieve downstream effects
  • Address any food sensitivities and remove those foods- food sensitivities cause inflammation
  • Address any underlying stress- when the body is stressed, the digestive process is not prioritized in the body
  • Eat in a relaxed state (stimulates the digestion process)- take time to sit down and eat your meals
  • Practice breathing exercises- breathings helps in calming and relaxing the nervous system, which helps in digestion

If you suffer from GERD and heartburn, and want to avoid conventional medications, which cause havoc when consumed long-term, nutrition and lifestyle changes can make a huge difference in regaining your health and living an optimal life.


Get started with us, on your journey to good health: https://www.smritikochar.com/get-started/


Functional Nutritionist & Functional Medicine Practitioner

Smriti is a leading Health Coach and Functional Medicine Practitioner, based out of Gurgaon, India.