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Old 12-15-2015, 11:21 PM
484 posts, read 415,816 times
Reputation: 901


I had a terrible problem with GERD/Acid Reflux about 5 years ago. I knew nothing about it, but had terrible heartburn every day, and it would wake me up at night. There was a book recommended in the New York Times called Dropping Acid. I tried it and it changed my life, twice.

First, the book:

When you learn about GERD, most of the literature talks about your body producing too much acid. This book which was written by doctors who treat people with GERD and researchers (French, I think, I skimmed this part) developed a theory that it isn't just your body produsing more acid, but also that we are eating much higher levels of acids in food.

Foods can basically only be preserved through two methods -- using salt or using acid. Many of the foods we eat have some level of processing in them -- for example, if you eat at restaurants, or buy pre-packaged food in the supermarket, many of the ingredients are semi-processed before they are shipped to the restaurant or prepared and shipped to the supermarket. So the vegetables might be washed and prepped somewhere else, then flash frozen and shipped. In the process, either salt or acid might be used in one or more of the prep stages. When the dish is finally assembled and cooked in the restaurant, because so many of the component parts had some acidic pre-treatment, the resulting dish has a much higher acid level than it would have if you made the corresponding dish at home.

As consumers are more and more turning away from higher sodium content, manufacturers are increasing the use of acidic preparation or packaging techniques. This made a lot of sense to me.

The researchers measured the level of acid/alkaline in lots of common foods, and printed these measures in the book. They encourage people to reflect on what foods tend to trigger their particular symptoms and note them. You can then go through the book and look up the acidic levels in the foods you commonly eat.

Further, they suggest that you take a month or so and stop eating all of your triggers, and see what happens. For me it was greasy food, rich food, fried food, spicy food, chocolate, vinegary foods (pickles, salad dressing, sauerkraut), onions, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers. They also suggest that someone stop eating any fruit except melons for this period as well.

I was eating Tums like crazy, and miserable. I didn't want to take systemic medication and discussed it with my doctor. She read over the book and encouraged me.

I gave up all my trigger foods, and all fruit for a year. It was wasn't immediate, but I started feeling gradually better and better. I stayed away from my trigger foods as much as possible. Within 6 months I rarely had heartburn. At the end of a year, I was sleeping without problems. I started adding back a few of my trigger foods (tomatoes, chocolate), but still avoided onions, garlic, peppers, friend and spicy foods.

Four years later I started having this weird cough that only happened when I went to bed, just as I was drifting off, I'd start coughing and had a very difficult time getting to sleep. My doctor suspected it was "silent GERD." I went back to the Dropping Acid book again, propped up my bed, stopped eating 2 hours before going to bed. It helped some, but not enough. My doctor talked me into taking several rounds of the medication that some of the other posters have mentioned. I took those meds for six months, kept off my trigger foods,continued to stop eating at least 2-3 hours before going to bed, and kept the head of my bed propped up.

It's taken a year of this regime, but I stopped having the coughing, and haven't had to take the meds again. I was worried I'd have to take them for the rest of my life, but with the other actions was able to go off them after six months. I have cautiously started to eat tomatoes, fruit and chocolate. But I'm still avoiding onions, peppers, garlic, spicy and friend foods.

I also tried my best to avoid getting stressed out, and learned some stress reduction techniques that I could use when I felt that I was getting anxious (didn't want to have my body start producing more acid just as i was getting my stomach to calm down.

Please keep in mind, also, that it was slower than I would have liked it to be. Through it all, I've kept and used Tums when I needed to, for days when I could feel heartburn coming on.

This is my experience, and I don't want anyone to feel that I'm discounting their differing experience. It's what has helped with my body, and I offer it in hopes that it will give you some options and hope that you can have a direct impact on changing how you feel.

Best of luck to you!
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Old 12-16-2015, 11:51 AM
1,055 posts, read 1,024,835 times
Reputation: 2423
Acid reflux is all about diet and quantity of food. Most people who get acid reflux have some type of food triggers that make it more likely to happen but most people who suffer from it make it worse by just plain eating too much at one time.

What helped me to get my issues with acid reflux under control was mostly portion control - I didn't need to clean up my diet except for cutting out a handful of trigger items. What I did was cut down on the amount I would eat both at one meal and try to eat fewer calories over the entire day. I have noticed as I get older there's a handful of foods that seem to trigger it no matter how small the quantity, but overall most people don't have to clean up their diet all that much to get reflux to go away - they just need to eat much smaller quantities and avoid whatever trigger foods they might have.
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