Addressing Acid Reflux, Heartburn & GERD
Drink a glass of water at onset of symptoms
If experiencing heartburn at night, avoid eating 3 hours before bed and place 4-inch blocks under head of bed to raise slightly
- ½-1 tsp baking soda in a 8-oz glass of water neutralizes acidity –not recommended for regular usage as it will decrease stomach acid
- Foods to soothe esophagus: slippery elm (root or lozenge), aloe vera juice (can be a laxative; use with caution), 1 tsp chia seed gel
General support for low HCl:
When we suffer from acid reflux, we often think it is caused by too much stomach acid. However, the same symptoms can also be caused by too little stomach acid. If you have insufficient stomach acid production, your body will not be able to digest foods properly. This can contribute to food allergies and sensitivities (due to undigested foods), acne, autoimmune conditions, eczema or rosacea, psoriasis, irritable bowel syndrome, and even osteoporosis. Low stomach acid can also cause an imbalance in your intestinal bacteria, resulting in candidiasis or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. To increase your body's natural production of stomach acid, try a few of these tips:
20-30 minutes prior to eating, take 1 tbsp raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in 6 oz of water
Betaine HCl supplements – start with 1 capsule and at each meal, increase until you feel a very slight warming sensation in stomach. Cut back by 1 capsule and take before meals. If warming/burning feeling returns in future, lower dosage again – this indicates that your body is producing more HCl on its own.
Bitters (veggies, herbs, tinctures)
Minerals (especially zinc)
Increase fiber in your diet from whole plant foods such as vegetables, fruit, legumes and grains
Include spicy or heating herbs in your meals and as a tea
Whole foods diet high in veggies for minerals
Cultured foods, probiotics
General support for high HCl
If you have too much stomach acid production, here are some ways to calm down your body's acid production:
Aloe vera juice (non laxative)
DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice,) or slippery elm lozenges
Soaked flax seeds
Chamomile or slippery elm tea
Raw potato juice
Lots of liquid, especially mineral water to dilute HCl
Orange peel extract (d-limonene)
General support for digestion
- Whole food diet, avoiding processed foods
- Cultured foods or probiotics
- Eating slowly
- Stress management
What to AVOID
- Common Triggers: onions, garlic, hot or spicy foods, fatty/fried/greasy foods, highly acidic foods (e.g. tomatoes, citrus), chocolate, coffee, alcohol, tobacco
- Any foods associated with heartburn for you (gluten, sugar for example)
- Medications that include heartburn as a side effect – check with your pharmacist or doctor.
- STRESS – Eating while under stress reduces stomach acid secretions necessary to digest food and can also contribute to hiatal hernia (a common cause of heartburn). Practice eating in a calm, soothing environment and work to address stress in your daily life.
Simple Recipes to Avoid GERD
Cucumber Salad with Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 cucumber
- ½-1 tsp unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- Pinch sea salt
- Wash and peel cucumber. Shred or slice very thinly and put in a bowl.
- Add apple cider vinegar and sea salt to taste.
- Optional: You can also add other ingredients to adjust the flavor such as fresh dill.
Fresh Ginger Tea
- 1x2 inch chunk fresh ginger root
- 2 cups filtered water
Note: If you make a large quantity, you can use a crockpot to simmer for up to a couple hours for a stronger brew
- Peel and slice ginger root.
- Put ginger and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes to desired strength and cool slightly before eating.
Digestion-Boosting Cabbage Recipes
Simple Sauerkraut (Adapted from basic sauerkraut recipe in Wild Fermentation)
- 5 pounds cabbage
- 3 tbsp sea salt
- Chop or grate cabbage to desired size.
- Throw a handful of cabbage into a large bowl, followed by a pinch of salt. Continue until all cabbage and salt is in the bowl. Mix to combine salt and cabbage.
- Depending on your storage options, you can proceed in a few different ways:
- If you have a large ceramic crockpot, put all cabbage inside and put a large plate on top to press down on cabbage. You may want to add a weight on top of the plate such as a sealed jar of water to press down on cabbage. The pressure helps the salt pull liquid out of the cabbage and within a few hours to a day, there should be enough brine to cover cabbage.
- If your storage option is mason jars, pack cabbage into jars and, using a dowel or rolling pin, mash downwards until liquid is released and covers the cabbage.
- Let sit at room temperature for a few days, checking regularly to make sure that cabbage is still covered by liquid. Taste every couple days and when fermented to your taste, move to fridge. Enjoy!
Making Cabbage Juice at Home
- ¼ head green or purple cabbage, chopped (about 3-4 cups)
- 1 ¾-2 cups water (about half amount of cabbage)
- Optional (sweet): blueberries, orange segments, or apple
- Optional (savory): celery, cucumber, ginger, or lemon juice
- If you have a juicer at home: Place all desired ingredients in juicer, juice, and enjoy!
If you have a blender: Place all ingredients in blender, process until cabbage pieces are very small. Pour into a bowl or cup through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to strain pulp. Enjoy!
- To make fermented cabbage juice: follow blender instructions for cabbage and water, with no additional ingredients. Pour straight into mason jars without straining, and cover with a lid. Leave at room temperature for about three days to ferment (you can test it daily by opening and smelling or taking out a spoonful). When fermented to your taste, filter out pulp and save fermented juice in refrigerator. Enjoy!
Easy Vegan Kimchi (Adapted from Laura Newcomer’s 5/21/2013 Recipe on Greatist.com: “Hot and Healthy: How to Make Better Kimchi at Home”)
**contains garlic, onion, chili - not a good idea to eat when suffering heartburn
- 1 head Napa cabbage, washed and cut into approximately 2x1-inch pieces
- 2 tbsp sea salt
- 2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 1 apple, chopped
- 3 tbsp Korean chili pepper flakes (gochugaru) – not cayenne!
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- Place cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Toss to combine and cover the bowl. Let sit at room temperature until cabbage has wilted (could take about 1-12 hours). Cabbage should release about ¼ cup liquid.
- Combine remaining ingredients in food processor or blender. Process until it forms a rough paste.
- Once cabbage has wilted, drain and reserve liquid. Pat the leaves dry.
- Mix cabbage leaves thoroughly with paste.
- Pack kimchi into mason jars, avoiding air pockets by pressing contents down into jars with spoon, fork, or chopsticks. Leave about 1.5-2 inches of space between top of kimchi and top of jar.
- When all kimchi has been separated into jars, add equal amounts of the liquid that you set aside in step 3 to the jars. Make sure that all kimchi is completely covered but leave at least 1 inch of space between the liquid and the top of the jar.
- Press mixture down in each jar to make sure that liquid completely covers kimchi.
- Seal jars loosely and let sit at room temperature (about 65-75 degrees F) for 3-10 days. Every day, check on the kimchi. Taste a piece and push contents down in jars to ensure that the cabbage stays covered by liquid.
- When the taste is sour enough to your liking, store in the fridge. It will keep in the fridge for several months. Enjoy!