Stomach acid production declines with age.1 One 25 year clinical study found 90% of people over 40 who were diagnosed with GERD actually had low stomach acid.2 Did you hear that?! Most people who have acid reflux have too little stomach acid! Taking antacids destroys the little stomach acid that remains. This can give you relief in the moment, but ultimately weakens your digestion even more.
Consider the following scenario: Your sound slumber is disrupted by a scorching sizzle in your chest a few hours after a late-night slice of pizza. The food is churning and churning in your gut. Popping an antacid brings immediate relief. When you were younger, late night pizza was a fun social activity. But now you wonder, why does the food churn? What happened since then?
The reason is usually too little acid. Weak stomach acid can cause indigestion and food stagnation. The longer the food sits, the more likely you are to suffer from acid reflux. Before you agree to take antacids long term, as your doctor to check your acid levels. One simple home test is to mix 1/4 tsp of baking soda in 4-6 ounces of cold water. Drink it first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything else. If you don't burp within 3 minutes, it's likely that your stomach acid is low. This test is not considered 100% accurate, but it can be used to help give you a sense of whether you need more testing.
RemediesIf you have too little stomach acid, taking antacids is simply a way to avoid the problem. Instead, listen to your body and make adjustments to your diet and lifestyle. Keep stomach pressure low by avoiding overeating. And don't lay down for at least 2 hours after eating. If you find your chest frequently smoldering, trade your pizza in for soup. Favor easy to digest foods and avoid heavier, difficult to digest foods.
When the piercing fire swelters, suck on a wedge of lemon. Lemon, like antacids, reduces acid production in the stomach. However, unlike antacids, lemon actually helps your digestion because the sour taste stimulates secretions of digestive juices.
If your reflux is due to low acid, mint tea will help stimulate your stomach to produce more acid. Otherwise, mint tea will aggravate your reflux and then you know you have hyperacidity. A doctor can perform more sophisticated stomach acid tests to get clearer results.
Other helpful spices include fennel and cumin. These have a cooling effect on the body and support good digestion. You may want to take Avipattikar Churna, Trikatu or Hingvastaka Churna with meals to give your stomach the extra spark it needs to do its job well. Avoid cold drinks - especially when you eat. These dilute your digestive juices and challenge the heat needed to transform your food into nutrients. Hydrate - you need water to create digestive juices.
Don't be fooled by your burning heart! Support rather than suppress your body by getting to the root of your stomach's flaming woes.
 Why Stomach Acid Is Good for You: Natural Relief from Heartburn, Indigestion, Reflux and GERD Paperback - August 20, 2001 by Jonathan Wright. Published by M. Evans & Company
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About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda biocharacteristics. His approach to Ayurveda is clinical, yet exudes an ease which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda, offering professional clinical training in Ayurveda for over 15 years.
John's interest in Ayurveda and specialization in digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, as well as public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well. Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his wife and 6 kids, and pursuing his love of theology, philosophy, and language.
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