Suggestions For Acid Reflux

This one came as a comment on the Is Decaf OK post from last week. I thought it made for a good opportunity to talk about acid reflux.

I was just diagnosed with a serious case of GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease). One doctor said no coffee, another said no caffeine. Any thoughts on one latte per day (coffee or cappuccino?), when skim milk is a major ingredient?

My thoughts on a latte per day for anyone is that it’s a bad idea. To say that the “major ingredient” is skim milk is a bit misleading. Sure, it’s more milk by volume, but you’re still getting an espresso sized shot of caffeine, regardless of how much you water it down.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), frequent acid indigestion, chronic heartburn; whatever you want to call it, it’s a sign of a compromised digestive system, and there is really nothing worse you can do than dump a daily coffee into that compromised system. For reasons I’ve detailed in my two most recent posts on coffee, the beverage in all its many incarnations is just not good for the digestion. There’s a very good reason your doctors are telling you to avoid coffee.

To turn around your constant reflux problem I recommend a few steps…

First I would try an elimination diet to determine if hidden food allergies or intolerances are the secret culprit of your problem. The basic elimination diet first removes all potential food allergens from the diet, including dairy, wheat (and other gluten sources), eggs, corn and all processed foods including any caffeine. After a week or so has passed and all potential offending foods are out of the system, the foods are re-introduced one at a time and reactions are recorded. This process should always be undertaken in consultation with a health care practitioner like a holistic nutritionist or naturopathic doctor. Once food allergies/insensitivities are out of the picture you’ll be amazed at all the chronic conditions you assumed you had to live with for life have just disappeared (possibly including chronic heartburn).

I would also recommend trying to incorporate more live, raw foods into your diet. Raw foods contain all the enzymes nature included in them that cooking and processing destroy. They help to break down the foods and take some of the stress off of the digestive system. Raw produce also contain all the vitamins, minerals and co-factors missing from processed foods that keep your body systems, including digestion, in top working order.

Beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, are the digestive system’s best friend. H. Pylori bacteria are suspected of being responsible for a wide variety of stomach ailments, including acid reflux, stomach ulcers and even stomach cancer. Although H. pylori is a natural resident of the stomach, overgrowth of the bacteria can lead to the above mentioned disorders. And a great way to keep H. pylori in check is to keep a constant supply of the good guys coming in. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, naturally fermented sauerkraut and pickled products (usually made yourself) are a fantastic way to keep your probiotic levels at their best. Probiotic supplements are your second best bet.

And speaking of supplements, it might also be a good idea to supplement a few things to help get your digestive system back functioning properly. A digestive enzyme formula is also recommended given the lack of enzymes found in the current Western diet. As mentioned, probiotic supplements would also be a good idea if you find your diet lacks naturally fermented foods. A multi-vitamin/multi-mineral complex is also beneficial if for no other reason than to make sure your body has all the raw materials to make the stomach function properly; like zinc, for example. Ensuring proper levels of vitamin C, E and other antioxidant factors in the gastric juice may also discourage the progression of an H. pylori colonization.

So there are many steps that you can take to try to correct chronic acid reflux, but a latte a day is not one of them!

The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale