Getting off acid reflux medicine (specifically Protonix) is what led me to going paleo about four months ago. The only shred of appreciation I have for that drug is that I grew so sick of it (literally and figuratively) that I started feverishly researching and found my way to a Marks Daily Apple forum about GERD/heartburn/acid reflux and the devil incarnate (PPIs!) and truly turned my LIFE around in addition to my stomach discomfort.
I have always had some minor stomach issues - low levels of discomfort that I just accepted as normal. I did enjoy spicy food, drank socially and even had the occasional cigarette, consumed dairy every day, mixed my protein shakes with fat free conventional milk, drank fruit juice, ate whole grains with every meal, drank way too much coffee. I was thin but very skinny-fat, was a chronic cardio-er for a long stretch of years before gaining about 40lbs through weight training and a ridiculous overconsumption of things like Muscle Milk. However, in the grand scheme of things, I really thought I was making a daily commitment to being healthy - even though I lived with an almost daily GI discomfort that I was constantly "titrating" with water, Tums ("at least I'm getting my calcium!", milk, food, snacks, etc.
I came home from a week in Central America with my friends, during which time I think I was unintentionally eating as close to paleo as I ever had before. Lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, a ton of meat and fish, lots of natural Vitamin D, a lot of water and actually not too much alcohol for a spring break during college, and a ton of swimming/hiking/climbing/surfing etc. Felt great and had a blast. I came back home (to my routine and usual 'healthy' habits) and quite possibly the worst stomach pain I had ever experienced - I was slumped over at my desk all day long and had people seriously worried. I went to the GI who asked next to nothing about my diet/lifestyle, told me to enjoy a certain list of foods in moderation, to opt for the "healthy" choices I had already been opting for for years, and to come back the next day for an endoscopy. Went in, went under general anesthesia, woke up all out of wack to a report of minor gastritis and a prescription for Protonix. Did what the doctor told, filled it, and took it every day.
I felt better at first, but definitely had some odd side effects in the bathroom. I spent a couple of months with smooth sailing, but it was almost like I rewound to a few years prior when the discomfort was not as bad, but definitely still there. Within six months (and after multiple 10 minute, $30 co-pay doctor visits for the same $20/month prescription dosage), I was taking the pill but once again "titrating" with a little snack, a little milk, a little water, a little less coffee, etc. It was when the doctor refused to refill my prescription over the phone when I was unable to go into the office that I became irate and researched alternatives on my last few days of the medication.
I found Mark's Daily Apple and found it to be so intuitive and intriguing. I am a recent graduate and did some coursework in evolutionary science, statistics, biology, chemistry, etc. - and found no reason to not try it out. I went paleo on the first day of no medication and even on that very first day, I had ZERO GI discomfort. I chalked up every shred of feel-good to a honeymoon phase, a placebo effect, etc. - but I just continually felt good! My skin was clearing up, my feet/armpits weren't smelling, my hair was thickening, my mood was AWESOME, my concentration was out of control, my energy levels were so constant, my sleep/wake cycle was military-like, my confidence was rising, a desire to exercise replaced my previous "I guess I should exercise" mentality, my body fat was dropping while my muscles were growing (never before happened simultaneously for me), my endurance was increasing, I craved NOTHING non-paleo, and I could go on and on and on.
I was in shock and had to resist the temptation to become that obnoxious-to-everyone-eating-SAD paleo guy that runs around distributing copies of the Primal Blueprint and cans of coconut milk. I was adding ACV to my water bottle to help replenish the acid that was being turned off for almost a whole year. Almost everyone I see regularly has been noticing my mental and physical changes, and I have even had a few friends go paleo to resolve certain chronic conditions. I see a paleo physician (www.paleophysiciansnetwork.com) who has watched all of my metrics improve (cholesterol ratio, testosterone, Vitamin D, tris, etc). I have never felt or looked better.
While I can't get down to the nitty gritty molecular level of PPIs, I can safely say that this lifestyle shift has given me the life I never thought I could have. Everything I chalked up to bad luck, bad genes, impossibly difficult decisions, unsustainable lifestyles, etc - has been handed to me. A little ACV goes a long way, but a cutting out antinutrients and Neolithic foods goes even further. I'm no longer in the (multimillion dollar) business of treating discomfort - it is no longer something to treat. The transition from "healthy" SAD listen-to-your-fat-depressed-doctor "everything in moderation" lifestyle to something so simple, intuitive, scientifically-backed for millions of years, and rewarding is an amazing thing. I would recommend it to anybody before they turn to modern medicine to enable unhealthy lifestyle choices and embark on a lifelong journey of treating groups of side effects ("diseases" is what they call a lot of them nowadays....poor you!) with more drugs, then treating more side effects, then spending the last years of your life as a clueless, helpless shell of the person you once were, giving your estate to the pharmaceutical giants instead of your living loved ones (may or may not be happening to a few of my family members).
Thanks to PH for a great community and best of luck to anyone who finds their way to this post while finding out how to get the !@#$ off PPIs.