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* ACID REFLUX * ~ Why Does It Occur? How Can We Prevent It?

Updated: Dec 17, 2022

(GERD) Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is when the contents of the stomach come-up the esophagus, past the cardiac sphincter. Incomplete digestion causes gas eruptions that force the undigested foods back up the throat, this can be very uncomfortable, can taste acidic or like the meal just consumed.

Common additional symptoms to increase when laying down such as:

  • Persistent heart burn

  • Chest/throat pain

  • Dry cough/raspy/hoarse voice

  • Headaches

  • Migraines

  • Lock jaw, clenching, especially at night

  • Bad breath


  • Eating too large a meal, over-eating. Quick reset: aim to fill the stomach 1/3 food, 1/3 liquids, 1/3 empty.

  • Consuming over-processed foods, whether that is done by cooking oils/foods at too high of a temperature at home, re-heating food too many times, or eating too much "food stuff". When food is over processed it loses nutritional value. Fibres breakdown and the enzymes/bacteria that naturally assist our digestive processes die.

  • Over consumption of alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants, these all can cause early release and a weakened closure of our digestive valves.

  • Carbonated pop beverages with meals. These drinks disrupt the pH balance needed for efficient digestion. The carbonation creates gas, which is not always a problem, except when there is already inflammation.

  • Fermentable foods to be mindful of: pasteurized products since they are missing their natural enzymes to support balanced digestion- ex: tomato sauce products, fruit juices, dressings, dips, etc. Simple processed sugars like white sugar, candy syrups, high fructose corn syrup and unpronounceable food additives. As well spicy foods not paired with cooling support- such as active plain yogurt or sour cream.

Try making some of the foods above at home to boost nutritional value. Examples:

  • Make pasta sauce at home with fresh tomatoes, tomato paste and herbs. Support fresh pasta brands local to your area.

  • Choose fresh fruit and vegetable juice brands, local juicers and eat fresh whole fruit.

  • Create salad dressings, mayos, sauces and dips at home. All you really need is a good quality olive oil, herbs, fresh citrus, vinegars, nut pastes, mustards, honey, maple syrup...<check our dressing post for more ideas>

  • Swap plain refined white sugar with cane sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar. Make your treats at home with maple syrup and raw honey instead of the syrups and isolates used in processed foodstuff on the grocery shelves.

  • Balance spicy foods with other tastes like sweet, tart and bitter, not just salt and savory. Try serving with a side of plain whole milk yogurt or sour cream.

  • Read ingredient listings, or choose foods that don't have ingredient listings- like whole foods that you prepare yourself.

  • Build main meals with a key components of a nourishing diet - such as a source of quality protein, healthy dose of fat, complex carbs with fibre, sweeter simple carbs, enzyme rich foods, colourful foods and foods that you love!

What Causes Acid Reflux?

  • Low stomach acid and incomplete digestion leads to fermentation in the stomach, gas, and then acid and undigested food get forced back up our throat due to pressure, lack of space and weakened digestive valves.

According to my nutrition notes from school:
5% of people with acid reflux have too HIGH stomach acid production.

95% of people with acid reflux have too LOW stomach acid production, which leads to fermentation acid forcing its way back up.

How does that make sense?

Naturally the body produces stomach acid, enabling food to move from the stomach within10-30 minutes of consumption, then on its way into the small intestine.

In order for the body to trigger the next steps in our digestive process, the consumed food, called chyme, needs to reach a certain pH to leave the stomach.

If there isn't enough natural digestive juices in the stomach, the food will remain longer, let's say 45 minutes -2 hours with slow digestion, fermenting its way to a sufficient pH.

As the chyme ferments, this produces gas, and this is what commonly refluxes up the esophagus.

It is not uncommon for people to consume more food before the last meal has even left the stomach.

Since our food is taking longer to exist the stomach, our capacity to extract the full amount of energy from any given meal is compromised- since nutrients are assimilated in both the small and large intestine.

With food remaining in the stomach, we may still feel the 'need to eat' as we are not getting what we consume. This also makes it easier to reach for simple foods, 'light' foods that release sugars quick, but may not be as nutrient dense as our body deserves.

By eating the next meal before the previous one has fully digested it is a burden to our system. This can force food through our digestive system without complete digestion actually occurring, resulting in improper pH, food not being broken down, increased gas production and inflammation of the gut lining.

This cycle may continue, putting the system further out of balance, giving it less access to nutrients, resulting in pain, discomfort, nutritional deficiencies and medical intervention if we let it go too long unattended.

WHY do I have low stomach acid?:

  • Zinc deficiency- the mineral involved with stomach acid production. Do you eat red meat? Oysters? What type of nuts, seed and grain products do you consume and how are they prepared?

  • Lack of fresh/alive food (lack of enzymes). Do you like sprouts? Shop at local farm markets? Where do you buy your meat, eggs and dairy? Do you grow any of your own food?

  • Bacterial imbalance- how is your microbiome? Have you ever taken probiotics? Do you eat yogurt? Do you have a bowel movement every day?

  • Lack of bitter foods- dark greens are bitter, roots like dandelion, citrus fruit peel and various veggies, freshly ground coffee and quality teas.

  • Lack of sour foods- try kombucha, fresh lemon and lime on meals, homemade fermentables- have you ever tried pickling at home?

  • Over consumption of processed sweet foods- what type of dessert do you eat? What type of honey? Do you make your own treats?

  • Lack of sodium or reduced sodium diet. Swap table salt and include rock salt / sea salt in daily routine. Bath in epsom salts and swim in oceans when possible.

  • Over-use of fluoride toothpaste, mouthwash and drinking unfiltered water.

  • Not waiting long enough in-between meals- eat enough at your meal to last until the next meal. Space meals 4-5 hours apart with an overnight fast of 12-16 hours.

  • Lack of physical activity. Moving our body stimulates our metabolism and ignites our fire for digestion.

  • Over-eating- eat in a calm state of mind in a location you feel peace. Understand your body's "I'm satisfied" trigger, instead of just eating until "I am absolutely full".

  • Alkalizing over-the-counter medications (like Tum's, Gaviscon) and PPI's (these prevent stomach acid production). They are needed in extreme cases but are not long-term solutions and can lead to mineral deficiencies and consequences down the line.


ADJUST STRESS LEVELS- eat at a time of pleasure and happiness versus stress.

REDEFINE MEAL TIMES- walk and work up an appetite. Drink liquids in the early morning, move your body and then eat a balanced first meal.


  • Eat bitter foods before meals. Purchase at a health food store "bitters" (a blend of herbs that stimulate digestive juices). Or make it yourself- soak dandelion root in brandy 2 months and take 1/4tsp before meal times.

  • Drink herbal teas that boost digestion, dandelion root, leaf, chicory, peppermint, spearmints, balms, fennel, pretty well most herbal teas are multi-use and soothing on the gut.

  • Eat fermented foods, "sour" foods with you meal, like lemon, lime, apple cider vinegar and pickled veggies as a garnish on your meals.

  • Eat raw foods at mid-day or in-between big meals, like fruit as a snack or salad in the late afternoon before dinner.

  • Incorporate an abdominal workout into routine.

  • Chew fennel seeds before and after meals.

INTERMITTENT FASTING- increase time in-between meals, to allow hunger to grow.

RETIME CERTAIN ACTIVITIES- Increase hydration IN-BETWEEN MEALS, avoid drinking with meal. Alcohol AWAY from meals. Used as a digestive stimulant versus accompanying a meal. Avoid eating close to bedtime, to avoid stressing/pressure on our (should be) one-way digestive sphincters. Aim to end eating 4 hours before sleeping. If possible take a walk / get fresh air after your last meal.

SUPPLEMENT FOR SUPPORT - multi-spectrum enzyme+HCl supplement. Take a zinc supplement 15 minutes before a meal. Eat pineapple before meals, or take a bromelain supplement. DGL "deglycerized licorice root" as well as pure licorice root, before and in-between meals to aid balancing bloodsugar if you are coming off a high sugar/carbohydrate dependent lifestyle.

EAT THESE FOODS- Fresh carrot & cabbage juices, sauerkraut. Fresh sprouts. Fresh lemon, lime and apple cider vinegar. Whole milk plain yogurt. Grass-fed and/or organic meat (talk to your local farmers & butcher), pastured dairy, eggs and butter. Simmered ginger root sweetened with honey. Use herbs and spices in cooking.


If you are interested in 1 on 1 -or group- virtual guidance, please contact me, but first check out our nutrition session program here to see if it is right for you.


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