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How the Body Works: Heartburn, GERD and Natural Options

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Fourteen years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter I had the worst heartburn of my entire life. Family Size bottles of antacid tablets lined my night table because the pain kept waking me up. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20,  and I so wish I knew then what I know now!!

Strange as it sounds the most common cause of heartburn is not too much stomach acid, but too little! So many of the common Over The Counter remedies for heartburn are focused on reducing stomach acid, but the digestive tract NEEDS enough acid in order for all the parts to work well and efficiently digest your food. So it’s time for another installment of How the Body Works – I hope this explanation is clear and simple enough for even the kids to understand.

The Stomach Furnace

When you chew and swallow your food it travels down your esophagus and into your stomach. There is a little door, (technical name is the Lower Esophageal Sphincter  or LES), that is supposed to close tightly onto the top side of your stomach to keep everything contained. Think of your stomach like a big furnace and the LES like the heavy cast iron door keeping the raging fire inside the furnace and not outside. An efficient furnace operator keeps the door shut tight except when fuel is going in.  But if the furnace operator stops taking his job seriously and forgets to latch the door then it could swing open and sparks could fly out. If the operator falls asleep on the job and just leaves the door open he could find himself on fire! That’s what happens when you feel heartburn.

Having enough stomach acid, and not just weak acid but something strong enough, will act as the signal to the LES that it’s time to get the furnace door shut tight! When there isn’t enough acid or it isn’t acidic enough the LES is like the lazy furnace door operator and that is when heartburn happens. (Click here for a more detailed biological explanation.) Critical thinkers like you can figure out that when you take an antacid because you have heartburn you are just making the problem worse. The LES depends on the signal from the strong stomach acid to keep the door shut tight.

There is also another door at the other end of the stomach (this one is called the Pyloric Sphincter or PS) that also depends on strong stomach acid to do its job. It won’t open the door and let the food out unless the acid is strong enough. When we neutralize the stomach acid we could be trapping our food in our stomach instead of allowing it to continue through the rest of the digestive tract.

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By the way, stomach acid is concentrated hydrochloric acid. (The pH should be about 2.) If you put a few drops on your unprotected skin you’ll get burned. It has to be strong because it has to be able to break down anything you eat plus any bad stuff that might also be on your food like germs. It wouldn’t make any sense to expect a mild, weak acid to digest a nice juicy grassfed steak, or an entire bowl of kale salad….or a whole bag of extreme nacho chips, half a deep dish pizza or anything else you happen to eat! But our body is designed to handle the strong stuff. When the acid is too weak (stress, age, and digestive disorders can make it weak), or when we make it weaker with medications, that’s when we get into trouble.

A strong acid is also needed to signal the rest of the digestion team that it’s time to do their part. The PS opens and the acid jump-starts the duodenum to begin neutralizing the acid and releasing the rest of the enzymes from your liver, pancreas and gall bladder to finish breaking down your food so it can nourish your body.

Critical Thinking Time

Now it’s time to put on your Critical Thinking Caps. Here’s an excerpt from a medical book first published in 1956: “Indigestion and what is loosely called ‘heart burn’ (an irritation of the lower esophagus) are not caused by an ‘acid stomach.’ Acid is a natural and necessary part of the stomach’s digestive function, therefore, most ‘aids to digestion’ and ‘stomach sweeteners’ will do nothing to help and may do harm.” (underlining is mine)  So if it has been common medical knowledge for more than 50 years that antacids (stomach sweeteners) won’t help and could actually harm then why are they still the first choice for a solution?

Nexium, a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), is the #3 top selling prescription drug in the US with over 18 million prescriptions written in 2014 with $6.3 Billion in sales. How do PPIs work? According to the Nexium website “they work by turning off some of the ‘acid pumps’ in the stomach’s acid-producing cells, reducing the amount of acid in the stomach.”  (Emphasis added.)

Not only does the top Rx heartburn drug do exactly the opposite of what is biologically needed for successful operation of the LES and PS doors to our stomach furnace, but the people who use these drugs are using them for much, much longer, years longer, than they were developed to be used. (The studies done on these drugs did not go beyond 6-12 months) AND if that’s not enough there are serious risks associated with PPIs – serious enough that the FDA has published warnings – such as higher risk of bone fractureslow serum magnesium that can lead to heart rhythm problems, seizures and muscle spasms;  and an increased risk of c. diff overgrowth ( clostridium difficile is a pathogenic bacteria that can lead to severe diarrhea and other problems).

If you need one more reason not to take antacids then remember that the point of digestion is to break down the food you eat into easily absorbed nutrients. Without enough stomach acid the whole process of digestion doesn’t get off to the right start. It is the acid in the stomach that sends the message to the gate at the bottom of the stomach to open up and let everything continue, it is the acid in the stomach that digests protein (into amino acids which are the building blocks of our body). Without enough strong stomach acid eventually you end up with nutritional deficiencies – so even if you are eating totally organic, perfectly clean, real food all the time, but don’t have enough acid you can’t break down and digest it and so you will still be sick.

So what can you do instead of antacids?

First of all learn more about the signs of too little stomach acid with this simple article here from SCD Lifestyle.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

The number one home remedy is apple cider vinegar.  Using a raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar will give you the added bonus of extra enzymes which also help with digestion. For acute heartburn try 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of plain water. Drink this every five minutes until your symptoms begin to subside. As a daily maintenance you can drink a teaspoon or two in some water before each meal or once or twice a day as needed.

2. Drink lemon water

Lemon water a great tonic for all kinds of things, but the acidity of lemon juice and the natural enzymes from the raw lemon can help digestion.  Squeeze the juice from an entire lemon into your glass, or use a half of a lemon if the whole one is too much. Drink this before meals or as needed.

3. Betaine HCL

Supplementing with Betaine HCL, a supplemental form of the same acid that is naturally produced in your stomach, can strengthen your digestion. Before you try this remedy please check with your doctor because anyone taking Rx medications will need to make sure this supplement is safe for them. You can also read more about taking supplemental HCL here.

4. Try bitters

The bitter flavors naturally stimulate production of your own digestive enzymes. There are many types of bitters available, but one of my favorites is the one by Urban Moonshine. It tastes less medicinal than the more typical Swedish bitters.

5. Ginger Tea

Drink ginger tea between meals. I first learned about ginger tea from reading the GAPS diet book. If you suspect your heartburn is due to poor digestion then a healing diet like GAPS might be for you. To make ginger tea, grate some fresh ginger root (about a teaspoonful) into your teapot and pour 1/2 to 1cup boiling water over it, cover and leave for 3-5 minutes.  Pour through a small sieve and add honey to taste (optional).

6. Digestive enzymes and probiotics

These are good for helping boost the strength of your digestion and keeping your food moving through the entire digestive tract. Digestive enzymes are naturally produced by your body, but if your stomach acid is too weak they may need a little help, so taking supplemental digestive enzymes might be a good idea. The same goes for probiotics – so many lifestyle and dietary factors can deplete our natural beneficial bacteria and daily supplementation through probiotics or fermented foods can keep things running smoothly.

7. Get rid of stress

Stress does all sorts of yucky things, but as far as digestion goes stress can cause you to produce less stomach acid or weaker stomach acid. Ways to reduce stress before a meal include saying grace and being grateful, taking a deep calming breath, stopping to appreciate your meal visually and aromatically – all of these things can help digestive enzymes to start flowing.

What is your favorite home remedy for heartburn? Leave us a comment here to share it with us.

 Remember, this article is not meant to replace a doctor’s care or advice. Please make your own wise choices about health and wellness. 

Wellness Wednesday April 29

This blog is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized. Thank you for supporting Well Fed Family with your purchases.

EO_SidebarBanner_600x600_AttendI’m looking forward to learning so much from the Essential Oils Revolution Summit! I hope you are planning on listening in too! Here’s some of what will be covered in the week-long event:

    • Understand what essential oils are and why they are popular today
    • Why essential oils are nature’s BEST medicine
    • How to use essential oils safely and effectively
    • Tips for regaining control of your health with essential oils
    • Pain and stress remedies using essential oils
    • Culinary uses for essential oils
    • How to use essential oils for high performance health
    • Essential oils for animal aromatherapy
    • And so much more!

With 25+ additional presenters sharing their expertise about essential oils, this invaluable (and FREE) resource is intended for everyone everywhere!

Better yet, if you register today, you’ll have access to the following FREE GIFTS as soon as you register!

    • EARLY ACCESS to Dr. Axe’s expert talk, Essential Oils for Gut, Thyroid and Adrenals
    • EARLY ACCESS to Dr. Pappas’ expert talk, Essential Oil Adulteration
    • The King’s Medicine Cabinet Essential Oils eGuide by Dr. Josh Axe
    • The Essential Homestead: Using Essential Oils in the Home, Barnyard and Beyond eBook by Jill Winger
    • Using God’s Medicine For The Abundant Life ebook by Dr. Eric L. Zielinski

Register for FREE at this link today!

And now here are this week’s great link ups for Wellness Wednesday!


 

Antibacterial Soap America’s April Fools and Wellness Wednesday

This blog is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized. Thank you for supporting Well Fed Family with your purchases.
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Antibacterial Soaps – you find them everywhere. I’ve seen them in gas station bathrooms, hospitals, schools, friends’ homes, you name it – if there’s a high-traffic bathroom it’s likely to have antibacterial soap being dispensed. Marketed toward moms, especially those with small children, they are hyped as something that will protect us from horrible germs, especially colds and flu, and we will be much safer using them.
The truth is all that hype is just one big joke. Too bad it’s not an April Fool’s joke, unfortunately it’s real. Hand washing is a time-tested, centuries-old method for preventing the spread of disease. However it isn’t the soap that’s the most important part. The main mechanism for getting rid of germs? It’s the action of scrubbing your hands under running water for 20-30 seconds.
Soap helps get rid of actual dirt by mixing with the dirt and lifting it off your skin so it can wash down the drain. But the germs – those nasty viruses and bacteria you pick up from doorknobs, toilets, diapers and your own nose – those need good old fashioned scrubbing to get them off our hands.
Antibacterial soaps are actually harmful for several reasons. 1) They give us a false sense of security. We think that since we (or our kids) are using a medicated soap then we don’t have to worry if our hand washing technique is thorough enough. The truth is that colds and flu are caused by viruses which aren’t harmed at all by antibacterial soaps. 2) They are creating a bigger problem by encouraging antibiotic resistance.  We get in a panic over one case of ebola coming into the country and yet 23,000 people die every year from antibiotic resistant bacteria. The overuse of antibacterial substances is partly responsible for this serious problem.  3) The soap dispensers themselves are passing along more germs than were originally on people’s hands BEFORE they washed them!
Your best bet is to bring along your own clean container of plain soap, and use that with plenty of running water to scrub your hands for as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday.
Now that you are well-informed on the subject of hand washing – take a look at all the other great posts on this week’s Wellness Wednesday!


Wellness Wednesday Feb 18, 2015

Welcome to this week’s Wellness Wednesday!

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This week’s features:

Coconut Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

Coconut Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies by Picky to Plenty

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The Best Sugar Cookies Ever by Pennies into Pearls

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Are You In the Mood For Lovin’? by The Oil Dropper

Every week we will feature the most popular posts! Your hosts will pin and promote them as much as possible. Thank you for linking up! If you’d like, grab the button below and add it to your blog!

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Alternative Living Network’s Best of 2014

aln best of 2014 base pictureAlternative Living Network is a network of Christian natural living bloggers — bringing light and life to the alternative lifestyle. Find us on Facebook for daily holistic living posts, and find inspiration from the many talented bloggers within the ALN group.

We’ve Collected the Best for You

ALN bloggers have joined together to make over two dozen compilation posts of the best of 2014. If you’re not familiar with ALN’s bloggers this a great way to get a taste of all we have to offer! Leave a comment here about which is your favorite, and share the love with that blogger by leaving a comment telling why you love their post!

Alternative LIving Network’s Best of 2014

If you hit a link that doesn’t work please let me know. Some of these are scheduled to “go live” later than others.

Best of 2014: Homemaking

Best of 2014: Money Saving Tips

Best of 2014: Parenting Tips

Best of 2014: Grain-free Goodies

Best of 2014: Marriage Encouragement and Christian Sexuality

Best of 2014: Homemade Cleaning Supplies

Best of 2014: Natural Hair Care

Best of 2014: Homeschool Inspiration and Ideas

Best of 2014: E-books

Best of 2014: Side Dishes

Best of 2014: Chocolate

Best of 2014 : Main Dishes

Best of 2014: Essential Oil Recipes

Best of 2014: Pregnancy and Birth Tips

Best of 2014: Homemade Beauty Recipes

Best of 2014: Soups and Stews

Best of 2014: Crockpot Meals

Best of 2014: Cultured Foods and Beverages

Best of 2014: Salads

Best of 2014: Breakfast

Best of 2014: Baked Goods

Best of 2014: Homemade Bread

Best of 2014: Easy Snack Ideas

Best of 2014: Dairy Free Recipes

Best of 2014: Gluten Free Recipes

Best of 2014: Christian Inspiration

Best of 2014: Home Remedies

Best of 2014: Research Based Healthy Living Articles

Best of 2014: Simple Living Tips

Which post is your favorite? Leave us a comment sharing which tip will be the most useful in the coming year, or which recipe you can’t wait to try!

This blog is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized. Thank you for supporting Well Fed Family with your purchases.

Cheesy Chili Chicken Salad

cheesy chili chicken salad titlesIt was the 80s – Girls Night Out meant dressing up in punk rock and mini skirts with big hair and blue eyeshadow. For us it also meant going to Ryan’s on Opelika Road for Cheesy Chili Chicken Salad. This was back when chicken fingers were a new thing, so you know it was a long time ago! The salad was huge. It came in a giant bowl ringed with tortilla chips and filled with chunks of chicken fingers, kidney beans, cheese, olives, lettuce and Ryan’s special creamy chili dressing. This recipe is my rendition of that awesome meal-in-a-salad that takes me back to those crazy nights with the girls.

Cheesy Chili Chicken Salad

Dressing:

1/3 cup full fat sour cream (I like Daisy)

1/3 cup mayonnaise (I usually buy Hain’s)

1 chipotle chile, canned (save the rest in a ziptop bag in the freezer for next time)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

juice of one lime

1 teaspoon sea salt

Salad:

4 cups shredded crisp lettuce such as romaine

3 cups chopped roasted chicken

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cups cooked red beans

1 cup shredded cheddar or colby cheese

1/3 cup sliced ripe olives

1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 cup frozen organic corn kernels, thawed

sliced avocado for garnish

non-GMO tortilla chips

Dice the chipotle chili very finely (wear gloves and don’t touch your eyes!) Combine the dressing ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.   To prepare the salad, combine the lettuce and remaining ingredients except avocado and chips in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss gently to coat. Garnish with avocado slices and serve immediately with tortilla chips.  Mini skirts and big hair optional.

Cheesy Chili Chicken Salad
 
Author:
Recipe type: main course salad
 
Spicy creamy cool dressing coats this meal-in-a-salad filled with chunks of chicken, beans and cheese.
Ingredients
  • Dressing
  • ⅓ cup full fat sour cream such as Daisy brand
  • ⅓ cup safflower mayonnaise such as Hain's
  • 1 canned chipotle chili in adobo, reserve other chiles for another recipe
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Salad:
  • 4 cups shredded romaine
  • 3 cups chopped roasted chicken
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups cooked red beans
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or colby cheese
  • ⅓ cup sliced ripe olives
  • ⅓ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 cup frozen organic corn kernels, thawed
  • sliced avocado for garnish
  • non-GMO tortilla chips for serving
Instructions
  1. Finely mince the one chipotle pepper.
  2. Freeze the remaining peppers for another recipe.
  3. Combine the dressing ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
  4. To prepare the salad, combine the lettuce and remaining ingredients (except avocado and chips) in a large bowl.
  5. Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving.
  6. Toss gently to coat.
  7. Garnish with avocado slices and serve immediately with tortilla chips.

 

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Bananas Foster Toby’s Corner Style

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Toby’s Corner was one of those “special occasion” places where you took someone you wanted to impress. It was a swanky restaurant in the historic district, the old Sun Center building, in downtown Gainesville, FL.  Since we were living on a beginning teacher’s salary and a graduate assistant stipend we didn’t eat there very often. But when we did we always ordered the Bananas Foster – it was their signature dessert prepared tableside with great panache. I waited for the perfect opportunity to get the recipe, all I had to do was pay attention when the waiter rolled the linen-covered cart up to the table to give us the show whose grand finale involved flaming the brandy for dramatic effect. Scribbled quickly on a scrap of paper from my purse I treasured that recipe and quickly transferred it to a notecard and stashed it in my recipe file. Now we could have that special dessert at home!

For those of you who’ve never had Bananas Foster it’s a warm caramel sauce with ripe bananas poured over vanilla ice cream for a hot-cold-creamy dessert sensation. I haven’t changed the recipe very much at all from the original, just tweaked the sweeteners so it doesn’t use quite so much refined sugar, so even if the restaurant isn’t there anymore you can still get a taste of what it was like when you make this dessert for you own special occasion. Much of the alcohol does burn off during preparation, but if you don’t want to use it then simply leave it out. The fresh orange and lemon still give it plenty of flavor. Serve this over homemade vanilla ice cream from our free ice cream e-book. To get your copy just click the link on the right hand side of this page, sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll send you the e-book with 10 delicious homemade ice cream recipes right away!

Bananas Foster Toby’s Corner Style

Have the ice cream portioned into four bowls and keep them chilled while you make the sauce. Melt together 3 Tablespoons each of butter, sucanat and real maple syrup in a wide, flat pan. Continue cooking and stirring until the mixture gets bubbly and thickens. Add the juice of 1/2 of an orange and 1/2 of a lemon plus 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Stir and heat until bubbly again. Then add 3 Tablespoons each of Creme de Banana liqueur and brandy, flambe if desired, and then slip two bananas that have been peeled, sliced lengthwise and then again in crossways to form 8 total pieces into the warm caramel mixture. Coat the bananas with the sauce stirring to let them get warm, and then spoon the mixture over bowls of vanilla ice cream.

Bananas Foster
 
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 4
 
warm citrus infused caramel and bananas over vanilla ice cream
Ingredients
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons sucanat
  • 3 Tablespoons real maple syrup
  • ½ orange
  • ½ lemon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons Creme de Banana Liqueur
  • 3 Tablespoons brandy
  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled and slice lengthwise and again across
  • 4 bowls vanilla ice cream
Instructions
  1. In a wide but somewhat deep pan (or a flambe pan), melt together the butter, sucanat and maple syrup stirring until melted and bubbly.
  2. Squeeze in the juice of half an orange and half a lemon, plus ½ tsp cinnamon stirring well.
  3. Return to bubbling.
  4. Add the banana liqueur and brandy (if desired) and flambe.
  5. Add the sliced bananas stirring to coat the bananas in the sauce as they warm.
  6. Divide the sauce between the bowls of ice cream and serve immediately.

 

This blog is for informational purposes. Some links my be monetized.

 

Mud Cookies and Ice Cream Sandwiches (GF)

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So I’ve been teaching Sunday School for the past two years now. But this is Sunday School like you’ve never seen it. I have the coolest classroom – it’s a little cafe with a real kitchen area. We teach Bible stories and use hands-on cooking projects to cement the lesson in the kids’ minds and hearts (and stomachs!) This week we’ve been getting ready for a big Open House to show off all the neat classrooms and creative lessons being used to teach Jesus’ Love to these sweet kids. I’m going to do a cooking demo for the Open House – I’m making Mud Cookies. We used this recipe when we taught about the Miracles of Jesus. In chapter 9 of the New Testament book of John it tells how Jesus made mud with some dirt and saliva, and rubbed it over the eyes of a man who had been born blind. He then sent the man to wash it off in one of the city fountains. When the man washed off the mud he could see!

mud cookies

mud cookies

Our cookies start out looking like a bowl of lumpy mud. In fact they look pretty gross – you mix cocoa powder with egg whites which looks an awful lot like dirt and spit. But soon after stirring and stirring the batter gets shiny, then you drop spoonfuls onto a parchment paper and bake them. What you get are the most deep, dark chocolate cookies you can imagine!  My classroom recipe only makes 10 cookies because our little oven only holds that many, but you can easily double the recipe to make a bigger batch. And you will definitely want to do that because we discovered that these cookies make the perfect sandwich for homemade vanilla ice cream! Oh. My. Goodness. My son made the vanilla ice cream today from the Well Fed Family free ice cream ebook (have you gotten yours yet? sign up for the newsletter using the link on the right side of this website and we’ll send it to you for free!), we used these cookies to make ice cream sandwiches for dessert tonight. Perfect! They are just the right texture, just like those soft cookies that come with the eskimo pies from the ice cream truck. And oh so chocolatey!  What a perfect way to use up the egg whites leftover from making the ice cream!

Mud Cookies and Ice Cream Sandwiches

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup egg whites (about 3)

1/2 cup organic sugar or honey

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt

Mix everything together in a medium bowl. Use the honey if you don’t mind having a chewier cookie, the sugar will make it a little firmer but less nutritious. However these are dessert – so don’t feel like using honey means you can eat the whole batch yourself ;)   Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes until they are dry on top to the touch but still springy. Cool on the baking sheet for a minute or two and then use a metal spatula to remove to a cooling rack. Use two cookies, flat sides together, with two tablespoonfuls of ice cream to make the sandwiches. Eat immediately or wrap in wax paper to freeze for later.

Mud Cookies and Ice Cream Sandwiches (GF)
 
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 5
 
Dark chocolate, gluten-free cookies bake up just right for using in ice cream sandwiches.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ⅓ cup egg whites (about 3)
  • ½ cup organic sugar or honey
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • vanilla ice cream, homemade or good quality store bought
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Stir all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  3. Use a heaping tablespoon of batter for each cookie spooned onto the parchment, leaving some space between the cookies.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the top is dry but still springy.
  5. Allow to cool on the parchment for a few minutes before using a metal spatula to remove to a cooling rack.
  6. To make sandwiches place one cookie flat side up on a plate.
  7. Spoon 2 Tablespoons of softened ice cream onto the cookie and top with the flat side of a second cookie.
  8. Press slightly to spread filling to the edges.
  9. Eat immediately, or if desired, wrap in wax paper and freeze to eat later.

 

mud cookies with homemade vanilla ice cream

mud cookies with homemade vanilla ice cream

I can definitely see these with variations. Maybe sub peppermint extract for the vanilla for mint chocolate mud cookies. Or use any of the other ice cream flavors in our free ice cream ebook, wow, how about peanut butter ice cream with these chocolate cookies! Leave a comment and let us hear your great flavor ideas! Pin for later or share on Facebook using the links above the blog.

Some links may be monetized. Thanks for supporting Well Fed Family. This blog is for informational purposes only.