Did you know that most disease begins in our gut? That’s why gut health is so very critical. Whether you’re dealing with autoimmunity or food allergies or food sensitivities or Hashimoto’s or pretty much anything else, it starts in the gut. That’s why it’s so important to understand what is really going on when we talk about acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease).
Most of the common treatments for acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD work by reducing the production of stomach acid. That’s based on the belief that excess stomach acid is the root cause of the problem. What I’ve learned in my studies is that it is extremely rare for someone to have too much stomach acid. Sounds crazy, right?
It’s true, though. What has usually happened is that, due to excess sugar, caffeine, and processed foods, the stomach is producing less acid than it should.
So what happens as a result of less stomach acid?
- The lining around the stomach is reduced. That lining functions to protect the rest of the body from the stomach acid. With less acid, there’s less need for that plush lining. But, get this: without that lining our bodies can’t properly assimilate Vitamin B12.
- The lower esophageal sphincter becomes weaker. That’s the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach. Since it’s weaker, stomach acid goes back up through the sphincter resulting in acid reflux.
- Iron deficiency can result since stomach acid is critical for iron assimilation.
- Pathogens live on beyond the stomach. That’s one function of stomach acid – our first line of defense against pathogens.
- Proteins are only partially digested.
- As a result of the partial digestion of proteins, our gut gets leaky to the partially digested foods.
- And so begins the leaky gut which can often result in food allergies and food sensitivities.
If your problem truly is too much stomach acid, then treating your condition with acid reducing medication may be the right approach. On the other hand, if your problem is a result of too little stomach acid, then reducing the amount of stomach acid will simply make the problem worse.
Our understanding and knowledge of how the human body works is ever-changing. As we learn more, it’s important to re-evaluate how we treat our symptoms. If you’re taking medication for acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD, you may want to work with your health professional to figure out what is really going on in there. Healing the gut might be a better long term solution.
What do you think? Are you currently being treated for acid reflux? Are your prescribed medications making a difference?