Stopping Acid Reflux

by (603) Updated February 10, 2012 at 11:04 PM Created December 29, 2010 at 4:35 PM

A fellow paleo crossfitter at my box has been suffering from acid reflux. She has been strict paleo for 2 months. She is in excellent shape ( often competing in competitions). When discussing her diet, she takes in much less fat that most paleo people that I know. She only used coconut oil and takes in fat only in the am. Could it be that she is not taking in enough fat to coat her stomach? Could it be a vitamin deficiency? Nightshades? She's thinking about going to a doctor who will surely take her off of paleo and put her on some medicine. I hate to see that. Help anyone?

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10 Replies

9983 · December 29, 2010 at 5:54 PM

Acid reflux is caused by not enough acid in the stomach to digest the food...contrary to what the over-the-counter acid soppers advertisers like Nexium, Tums, etc want you to believe. Not enough acid in the stomach causes incomplete disgestion leaving some foods to ferment and give off gas which carries undigested food up the esophagus...thus the heartburn and pain.

Dr Davis recommends total elimination of gluten products as a cure. I suspect the wheat products are basic in nature and overwhem the stomach acid. http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/search?q=acid+reflux

Another remedy that I used pre paleo for and gastrointestinal stress is a couple of tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar in 8 oz of water 3x per day. Or you can get HCL pills to restore the acid in the stomach...but try the ACV.

Acid reflux is not a disease (unless associated with a thyroid problem) and she does not need a physician to screw up her paleo road to good health....unless associated with a thyroid problem. Use the ACV and get more acid in her stomach and she will be miraculously cured by what people have been doing for years.

The HealthySkeptic has this:

Hypochlorhydria, or low stomach acid, increases intestinal permeability, inflammation and infection (for more on this, see my series on acid reflux & GERD). Studies have shown a strong association between atrophic body gastritis, a condition related to hypochlorhydria, and autoimmune thyroid disease.

70 · February 10, 2012 at 11:04 PM

Would you let me know if she figures out what was causing the acid reflux? I am having the exact same problem. I never had heartburn in my life until I started the paleo diet. I'm also really athletic and getting into competing in Crossfit. I'm three weeks in and for last ten days I've been having awful heartburn and nausea. I had to call in sick for work this morning because I felt so awful. One thing I noticed yesterday was that it got worse after I ate coconut oil so I'm gonna try cutting out the coconut products for a while to see if that helps. I never ate any coconut products before I started and now I've been eating quite a bit of coconut milk and cooking with coconut oil, so I'm hoping that is the culprit.

I'll let you know if it works. Let me know if she has figured something else out.



I just looked at the date and realized that your post was from Dec 2010! If you happen to look at this again, let me know what she ended up doing. I can't take much more of this!

146 · December 29, 2010 at 7:17 PM

If she is following a very strict gluten free/paleo diet it can take as much as 3-6 months to heal.

She should be checked for the presence of a bacteria called H. Pylori. This is a common cause of acid reflux. It requires treatment with natural antibiotics and in some cases prescription antibiotics.

Often times, just going grain free is not enough to clear up the infection.

A number of natural agents can help speed up the healing process after years of gluten induced damage.

  1. L-Glutamine
  2. Vitamin A
  3. Digestive enzyme support
  4. Vitamin C (be careful here - many of these are derived from corn)

All the best, Dr. O

55320 · December 29, 2010 at 9:27 PM

I suspect much of it and my own is misdiagnosed eosinophilic esophagitis. I never got the biopsy for that because I'd have to try to provoke a flare, but it's so strongly associated with wheat for me that I can't imagine how it could be anything else.

I did the ACV and kombucha thing to recover, as well as probiotics and a month of VLC.

Coconut oil made me worse. Definitely eat flesh in the morning as it's known to stimulate proper acid production. Why is she only doing fat in the AM?

7709 · December 29, 2010 at 5:39 PM

I had some GERD issues in April (covered in this question). The thing that seemed to help the most was to take 6mg of melatonin before bed. After a few months of that, it seemed like my digestion was a bit calmer all around (less burping basically). I also slept deeper, which was a positive but probably unrelated to the GERD.

Your friend's diet sounds a bit funky if the only fat she eats is coconut oil and only in the morning. That would probably be the first thing to look at, assuming she's willing to experiment. Eliminating dairy helps some people, for example, but you have to do it for a month or so to really know if it's going to work.

2143 · January 02, 2011 at 1:18 AM

EAT MOAR FAT. Give it a month.

If it continues she should be checked for H. Pylori esp. if she has traveled to Asia or South America within the last year. It is epidemic in China, which is where I picked it up.

215 · January 01, 2011 at 6:50 AM

She should also find out if she has a hiatal hernia (in which a portion of the stomach protrudes upward into the chest, through an opening in the diaphragm). It's actually quite common.

Because this is a physical problem, her dietary changes would not completely cure the resultant reflux. However there are some precautions one can take (like not inverting - which tips the stomach acid into the esophagus) which can reduce flare ups.

8848 · December 29, 2010 at 7:59 PM

I'm curious what she eats. When someone is following a low fat "paleo" diet, it seems troublesome...

I dated a "low fat vegetarian" for awhile. She had the worst of both worlds. And crazy bad reflux. It's a weak correlation but I'll second it in my own experience--eating a high fat diet changed everything for me health-wise, including eliminating what was very bad reflux.

If she eats more of a macronutrient profile in the 70-25-5 (fat-protein-carb) range, I suspect she will improve. It goes without saying, that there can be ZERO gluten in the mix.

3428 · December 29, 2010 at 5:46 PM

I used to have acid reflux before following a paleo diet, mostly derived from wheat consumption. I never had any reflux since I am on paleo. Nevertheless there are certain paleo-friendly foods such as berries, olives or some fishes that may cause acidity,(if they are not properly balanced with alkaline-producing foods) depending on individual sensitivity. You may take a look at this site http://www.rense.com/1.mpicons/acidalka.htm

259 · December 29, 2010 at 5:32 PM

Has your friend ever been tested for celiac disease? I know you stated she has been strict paleo, but maybe 80 or 90 percent adherence to a paleo diet is not enough for her.

If she doesn't eat much fat, do you know what she is replacing those calories with?

Another thought I had was this...my wife never had acid reflux until she became pregnant. I doubt this is the case with your friend, because she would probably know if she was pregnant or not (although not everyone realizes for several months).

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