Halt Heartburn and Acid Reflux Naturally
Ironically, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart, but it causes a burning sensation in the chest which can confuse most people. The good news is that you don’t have to put up with it.
What Causes Acid Reflux/GERD?
Acid reflux or heartburn occurs when stomach acid leaks back up into the esophagus. When you swallow, a circular band of muscle around the bottom of the esophagus relaxes to allow food and liquid to enter into your stomach. Normally this muscle valve, called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), is closed and keeps the digestive acid and food inside the stomach where it belongs. However if the LES valve opens when it shouldn’t, hydrochloric acid from the stomach can reflux back and touch the lining of the esophagus. This can cause a burning sensation in the chest or throat known as acid reflux or heartburn.
Is the Standard Treatment Helping or Harming You?
Typically, acid reflux is believed to be caused by excessive stomach acid production and is treated with antacids that neutralize the acid. The “gold-standard” treatment is to prescribe H-2-receptor blockers or Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that work by completely blocking your stomach’s ability to produce acid. But this tactic misses the boat entirely, because acid reflux is NOT caused by too much acid in your stomach, it’s more typically caused by too little. Your body actually needs stomach acid to digest protein, activate digestive enzymes, keep the bacteria from growing in your small intestine, and absorb important nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B12.
There’s a plethora of medical research indicating that suppressing stomach acid production tends to just worsen and perpetuate the condition. Acid blocking drugs prevent you from properly digesting food and cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Long term use can also cause deficiency in vitamin B12 which can lead to depression, anemia, fatigue, and nerve damage. They also cause dangerous overgrowth of bacteria in the intestine called Clostridia, leading to life-threatening infections. For many others, low-grade overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine leads to bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and diarrhea leading to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Yet another study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that chronic use of acid-blocking drugs leads to an increase in the development of osteoporosis and an increase in hip fractures because blocking acid prevents the absorption of calcium and other minerals necessary for bone health. These are serious health concerns, and it’s pretty clear that in this case, the “cure” of acid-blocking drugs is worse than the “disease” of reflux. But that’s of little comfort when you’re suffering from heartburn.
Natural Options to Eliminate Heartburn
So if drugs aren’t the answer, what is? A combination of the right foods, nutrients, and lifestyle therapies can heal the problem, including:
- Re-inoculating your gut with enough good bacteria by taking a high quality probiotic supplement or by consuming fermented foods, such as kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha.
- Increasing your body’s natural production of stomach acid — one of the simplest strategies to encourage your body to make sufficient amounts of hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) is to consume enough of the raw material. A high-quality salt, such as Himalayan salt crystals, will not only provide you with the chloride your body needs to make hydrochloric acid, but it also contains over 84 trace minerals your body needs to perform optimally, biochemically. You can also try 2-3 teaspoons of Braggs organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in 8 oz of water or supplement with Betaine HCL available in health food stores without a prescription.
- Taking 1-2 capsules of digestive enzymes with each meal to aid in proper digestion and assimilation of your food.
- Taking 3-5 grams of glutamine powder in water twice a day to help heal the gut lining.
- Chewing 2 to 3 chewable tablets of DGL (a form of licorice) 15 minutes before meals.
- Supplementing with 200-400 mg of magnesium citrate or glycinate twice a day; magnesium helps the sphincter at the bottom of the stomach to relax, allowing the food to go down.
As you can see, there’s no need to suffer from heartburn and reflux or to take expensive and dangerous acid-blocking drugs. Try the changes suggested here to soothe your stomach and have your gut engine humming in no time.
Why Do We Sleep? For More Reasons Than You May Think
Most of us spend about a third of our lives asleep, despite not really having an answer to the question, ‘why do we sleep?’ Now neuroscientists are realizing that sleep is more important than previously thought. They’re also realizing that the worn-out platitude, “you can sleep when you die,” is terrible advice, as that day will undoubtedly come sooner if you short yourself on a good night’s sleep.
You need to be getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night — there’s really no other way around it. And if you think you can healthily get by on less than that, there’s an almost 100 percent chance you’re fooling yourself.
Why is Sleep Important?
While the exact mechanisms of sleep are still being studied, neuroscientists including Matthew Walker have made interesting learnings about what happens when we deprive ourselves of sleep and the impacts sleep (or lack thereof) has on society as a whole.
When we’re awake, Walker says that essentially, we’re causing low-level brain damage. By this, he is referring to the build-up of the sticky, toxic junk in our brain known as beta-amyloid. This accumulation of beta-amyloid has been found to correspond with the onset of Alzheimer’s, among many other adverse health effects correlated with a lack of sleep.
Sleep is beneficial as more than just a healing function; it also replenishes spent resources and regulates hormone levels that dictate our appetite, cognitive function, and motor skills. The two hormones that dictate whether we are hungry or full, ghrelin and leptin, have been observed to flare up and down, respectively, when we’re sleep deprived. This inevitably leads to an increase in hunger, but even worse, it leads our bodies to crave unhealthy and fattening foods — those heavy on carbs and light on greens. In fact, people who run on four to five hours of sleep per night tend to eat 200-300 more calories per day.
For men, sleep is an important regulator of hormones, most notably testosterone. Sleep-deprived males can have the same virility and strength as a man 10 years their senior. For women, a lack of sleep can lead to a significantly increased risk of breast cancer and drops in immune hormones.
According to Walker, just introducing a single night of just four hours of sleep among a normal eight-hour sleep schedule, can bring about a 70 percent drop in natural cancer-killing cells, the immune assassins that target malignant carcinogens. Every day our bodies produce these cells and others to fend off disease and maintain our health, and while a cat nap might make you feel refreshed, it won’t make up for the loss of these cells.