What is acid reflux?


We often hear the expression that “we are what we eat”, but I beg to differ. We are really “what we digest”. This is the reason that “diets” often fail. Everyone is different and digests their food differently.

Digestive issues are very common. This is because digestion is a huge job for our bodies. We have been created with 25-30 feet of pipes starting from the mouth and ending at the anus. In order for us to absorb what we eat, all the food must be broken down. Protein, carbohydrates and fats are large structures that cells cannot absorb until they are broken down into smaller molecules. These are called amino acids, simple sugars, and fatty acids. It all sounds simple, but a few things tend to hamper digestion as we age. Firstly, the production of digestive enzymes begins to decline starting at age 20, and we lose approximately 13% more every 10 years. Enzymes are required to digest food. Of course we can get enzymes from outside sources. These are available in raw vegetables and fruits. This is why it is important to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily.

Carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth. If we do not chew our food slowly, this can cause an immediate problem as our salivary glands will not produce enough of the enzymes required to start the digestive process.

Also as we age, our ability to produce HCL (hydrochloric acid), gets weaker. HCL is produced by the stomach to help break down protein into amino acids. Eating too much animal protein and not enough fruits and vegetables can lead to a problem with digestion. 

If too much food sits for too long in our very hot and humid gastrointestinal tract (due to poor digestion), it will begin to rot and ferment, causing bacteria backing up. This is why we need to also pay attention to our elimination and make sure our bowels are working well. Sadly, if we fail at digestion, elimination will also be problematic.

Acid reflux is a very common problem. Too many people think that this is a problem of having too much acid in the stomach. This is incorrect. Most of the time it is a result of not producing enough HCL (as mentioned above). The symptoms that one experiences is called heartburn. Treating heartburn with over the counter remedies is the worst thing you can do. It is best to go to the root of the cause, not treat the symptom.

Acid reflux is the result of not producing enough HCL. So the question is, what do we need to do to produce more? The answer is to increase your intake of organic sodium. This is not the same as table salt. In fact, you should not be consuming any table salt at all, and is not organic. Great sources of organic sodium come from cucumbers, parsley, celery and coriander .

To provide relief while suffering from heartburn, you can try taking a teaspoon or two of apple cider vinegar each morning and before meals. I have also had good results with aloe vera juice. Take a tablespoon before each meal. It is very calming for any inflammation in the stomach. 

Generally if you experience discomfort after eating, like bloating and gases, this is a sign that you are not digesting well. Taking a good quality digestive enzyme can certainly help, but the best thing to do is change your diet to include more raw fruits and vegetables. Choose fruits with a good amount of enzymes like pineapples and papaya. Stay away from coffee, alcohol, red meat, processed, and spicy foods. Do not drink water while eating as this can dilute your enzymes. It is best to drink before or after you eat. Pay attention to combinations. For example, if you combine a steak with a potato, this will be harder to digest as your body has to deal with protein and a complex carbohydrate at the same time. It takes much longer to digest protein (4 hours), as opposed to carbohydrates (2 hours). The sugars from the carbohydrates will ferment in our hot and humid gut while waiting for the protein to be broken down.  A much better option would be to only combine your animal proteins with vegetables as opposed to a starch. 

Yes, it will take time to alleviate all the symptoms if you have acid reflux and a weak digestive system, but you will be much more successful in the long run if you make changes to your diet as opposed to treating your symptoms with pharma drugs. We have been created to be educated, not medicated!

Frances Michaelson

A pioneer in the fitness industry, Frances opened the first personal training center in the West Island of Montreal in 2001. In 2008 , Frances had the “gut feeling“ that there was more to learn about health and how our bodies function, which led to further her education in the field of Naturopathy and holistic nutrition. She has since authored two books. Her latest book, "Do you Have the Guts to be Healthy" was published in March 2021. As a trainer and naturopath, she truly loves seeing people transform themselves by trusting their bodies instead of getting caught up in the medical system. Practicing health is the only way to live the gift of life well!

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