Tons of advice exists on the internet to help you manage your acid reflux ranging from exercise routines to diet plans. While some is helpful, most, including prescription medications merely focus on managing or reducing the discomfort caused by your symptoms. They do little to nothing to address the actual causes of your reflux.
So, to resolve your reflux, it is important to start with an understanding of the actual root causes of acid reflux. Once you understand the root causes, you can then work to eliminate them. In this post we will cover the benefits of five key supplements, two important additions to your diet, and how they can be used to eliminate acid reflux, its symptoms, and most common side effects:
- Betaine Hydrochloride
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Essential Enzymes
- Magnesium Citrate
- Vitamin B12
- High Fiber Sources
- Fermented Foods
If you are new to this site, you should first read my How I Cured My Silent Reflux article as it explains the underlying root causes of acid reflux, its corresponding treatments, and provides the necessary context to understand the recommendations on this page. Note that the concepts in the article apply to acid reflux, GERD, and Silent Reflux. After reading that article, if you would like to learn more about the below supplements you can return to this article or get my book:
For a comprehensive / easy to follow plan, additional rationale, and the steps I took to resolve my reflux, get my #1 best-selling book 'How I Cured My Silent Reflux | The Counterintuitive Path to Healing Acid Reflux, GERD, and Silent Reflux (LPR).' Also available in audiobook!
I suffered with reflux for more than 15 years. For much of that period I took medications which managed the symptoms, albeit poorly. Ultimately, after a poor diet choice, my symptoms grew completely out of control and I entered the darkest 6 months of my life.
As I describe in my book, the constant stream of mucus, and burning pain in my mouth and lips were maddening (these are typical silent reflux symptoms). This on top of my many other symptoms held me in a borderline depressive state. It was really difficult to concentrate on anything but my symptoms, making it increasingly difficult to engage with those around me.
Ultimately a friend of the family tipped me off to the fact that the tingling sensation in my fingers was related to a B12 deficiency and that this deficiency was a common side effect of acid reflux. I was shocked! My research on this topic led me to realize the very prescription medications I was taking to manage my reflux were making it significantly worse.
The medicines do this by lowering acidity (a condition known as hypochlorhydria), which erodes digestion and enables harmful pathogens to multiply unchecked and imbalance your digestive system (a condition known as dysbiosis). Either of these conditions can contribute to the malabsorption of key nutrients. For acid reflux sufferers this is most notably Vitamin B12, Magnesium, and Calcium.
As I covered in the above referenced article there are a number of digestive tract disorders that follow, ranging of the inability to keep stomach contents contained, reduced ability to move food along the digestive tract, and reduced digestive efficiency. The onset of these issues stems from certain lifestyle, disease, and medical factors, but can be accelerated by the use of prescription and over the counter acid reflux medications.
For the remainder of this article, we will take each of the five supplements and dietary additions and discuss their individual merits. Read to the end so you learn how these supplements work together, how to sequence them and fold them into a broader three phase recovery plan The below diagram organizes each so you can better understand their function, how they are interrelated and how they can help to address the three key factors that are spawning your reflux symptoms (digestion, acidity, and vitamin deficiency).
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Acidity and Digestion
Acid reflux is a multi-faceted disease. As such, it requires a multi-pronged approach that supports a smooth transition away from medications and that builds a solid foundation for continued healing. As you can see in the above chart both Apple Cider Vinegar and Hydrochloride span the acidity and digestion categories. However, this does not by any means make the interchangeable.
Betaine Hydrochloride (HCl) is a nutritional compound extracted from food sources like grains or beets. It is an acidic version of betaine that works in the same way as hydrochloric acid (HCl) in your stomach. This plays the role of a tactical, short term, and immediate solution to improve digestion, reset bacterial balance, and restore lower esophageal, diaphragmatic, and pyloric sphincter function. If these are new concepts to you then, or you are unclear if you may need this supplement, I again advise reading my How I Cured My Silent Reflux article.
That said, figuring out if you have low stomach acid can be tricky and getting useful information from the medical system can be a struggle.
That's why I created my Digestion Challenge! This email series, guides you through a comprehensive low-acid test and provides clear results that you can do something with.
These tests can be the initial move toward taking back control of your life. Imagine not having to worry about your symptoms all day and being able to enjoy time with friends and family and eat the foods you love! To Join, just enter your details below:
In contrast to HCl, Apple Cider Vinegary (ACV) supplements are a longer term play. This supplement can also have a positive effect on acidity and digestion, but it is also an excellent prebiotic source, and can help breakdown biofilms and plaques that pathogenic bacteria can erect to protect themselves.. It’s not a longer term play in the sense that you should take the supplement longer than you should HCl. However, it is a longer term play in the sense that it can take time to restore your guts digestive balance so prebiotic sources are helpful to give this process a boost. Longer term, establishing and maintaining proper microbial balance will help to keep reflux from reoccurring once it’s gone. Note, that ACV is best when taken in capsule form as taking it in liquid form can be corrosive to soft tissues and tooth enamel (even when diluted). HCl may not be right for everyone. I cover alternatives in my book:
Alternatively, if you’re a do it yourselfer, I have put together a quick three page checklist that covers the three phase plan. You can get that here:
Acidity, Digestion, and Deficiency
One of the best long term plays with regards to reversing acid reflux is improving your digestive health and balance. The best way you can do this is by adding two important elements to your diet. These are fermented foods and high fiber foods. As covered in the How I Cured My Silent Reflux article, lack of food diversity is one leading risk factor to acid reflux.
This, as an overly narrow diet causes microbes that are well suited to digesting these foods to thrive, while others die off. This creates the harmful imbalance that can lead to a loss in ability to digest certain foods, indigestion, and the symptom triggering inflammation that are characteristic of acid reflux.
Eating raw / naturally Fermented foods are an outstanding way to quickly gain the probiotic benefits that would naturally come from a diverse diet. Over time this will help to rebalance your microbiome and drastically improve your digestive health and efficiency.
However, in order for any new probiotic colonies to thrive you have to feed them. The best source of nourishment for these microbes are prebiotics which are found in high fiber fruits, vegetables, and legumes. I am sure you have heard that fiber is good for digestion, however you may not know that the human body is unable to digest fiber directly. Despite this, fiber is helpful because it feeds beneficial bacteria in your gut, which play an essential role in effective digestion.
These pre and probiotic food sources are really super remedies in the sense that well balance digestive process helps extract vital nutrients that serve as building blocks to essential body function. For instance, zinc absorption is required for your body to create stomach acid.
Feel like you've done all the things and are just not seeing progress? I've helped a lot of people over the years that felt the same way. Perhaps an at home microbiome test can help break the cycle and provide the insights you need to move froward. With it, you can test your gut microbiome and receive actionable recommendations on how to optimize your digestive health with the BIOHM Gut Report.
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Deficiency and Acidity
If you are deficient in Magnesium, or Vitamin B12 then you may be experiencing the symptoms listed in the Treatment Section of the How I Cured My Silent Reflux article. These supplements can help provide near immediate and short term relief while you work on improving your digestion so that your body can resume extracting these vital nutrients.
Lastly, digestive enzymes can be used to boost digestive efficiency and reduce symptoms while you work on improving the longer term causes of your reflux. A healthy digestive system requires very high acidity and has a balance of beneficial enzymes and bacteria that aid in the process of breaking down food. Enzymes break down larger molecules like fats, proteins and carbs into smaller molecules that are easier to absorb across the small intestine.
On my resources page I have provided links to the specific products that I used to eliminate my reflux as well as some that are useful in managing symptoms of reflux in the short term. While there, be sure to grab my transition guide which helps to put these supplements in context of a holistic three phase plan to recovery.
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