"Eating for Health"

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Monthly Newsletter June 2011

This month's "Eating for Health" Newsletter concerns a topic that affects approximately 60 million Americans at least once a month and 25 million Americans on a daily basis. This topic is Acid Reflux, also known as gastric reflux, chronic indigestion, heart burn, chronic dyspepsia, reflux esophagitis, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or G.E.R.D..

The problem with the way acid reflux is being treated by most physicians is that in the long run they are making their patients worse and the real cause of this condition is not being addressed. The standard medical care is to continue to prescribe drugs that only treat the symptoms of the disease, therefore allowing the problem to become more chronic and increasing the risk that this very treatable condition will transform into much more serious conditions like, Barrett's esophagus, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, or bleeding ulcers.

The stomach secretes hydrochloric acid and other digestive enzymes that begin the digestion of our foods. Although most people with acid reflux think they must have too much acid production, and therefore the acid stomach symptoms they feel, the truth is they probably are experiencing just the opposite. This low stomach acid condition is known as hypochlorhydria and is the primary cause of acid reflux. Most people over the age of 40 have begun to lose the ability to make adequate amounts of stomach acid for complete digestion of their meals. Confused? Let me explain!

Low stomach acid causes incomplete digestion. There is just not enough acid to digest the whole meal. The remainder of the undigested meal will naturally ferment. The fermenting process produces lots of gas and fermentation acids. This remaining mash in the stomach refluxes up into the esophagus as the gas tries to rise. It is this mash that burns the stomach and esophagus. There is a valve at the end of the esophagus as it enters the stomach and it should close and prevent stomach materials from refluxing back into the esophagus. This is call the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and it cannot close in the presence of low stomach acidity. With adequate stomach acid, your entire meal is digested, the LES closes, and no remnants of the meal will reflux upward. If you cannot fully digest your meals you are missing out on many of the nutrients that are contained within these foods.

Another common problem that complicates this acid reflux condition is the presence of what is known as a "hiatal hernia". A hiatal hernia is the protrusion of the upper part of the stomach into the thorax trough a tear or weakness in the diaphragm muscle. With weakness in the diaphragm muscle, as the gas in the stomach raises it pushes the stomach up into the chest cavity. This gives the acidic contents of the stomach free access to the esophagus---creating acid reflux and eventually, esophageal damage. A very high percentage of persons suffering with acid reflux also have a hiatal hernia condition. When I check patients suffering from acid reflux I find 70% also test positive for hiatal hernia. This problem MUST be dealt with to successfully resolve chronic acid reflux.

So now that you understand the primary cause of acid reflux what can you do about this problem on your own? So you will understand that you do indeed have too little acid try taking a tablespoon of cider vinegar in a small glass of water before meals and see if you don't digest better and have less heartburn after meals. You can also try the juice of one lemon (a mild acid) in a glass of water just before meals.

If this helps I would highly recommend a product call Zypan, by Standard Process. This is the best selling product in my office because so many people get wonderful relief with its use. Just take 2 or 3 tablets before each meal and you will be amazed! If you can't find Zypan then try a good digestive aid with hydrochloric acid from the health food store, same dose.

You also need to be checked by a good chiropractor or a natural health care provider that uses kinesiology (muscle testing) to determine if you have a hiatal hernia. If you supplement for the hypochlorhydria (low stomach) and have the hiatal hernia treated (by the way you can treat your own hiatal hernia at home) then you will be able to get off all the acid reflux drugs for good.

The most common drugs used for treating the symptoms of acid reflux are:

ANTACIDS

Over the counter antacids like Tums, Rolaids, Pepto-Bismol, Alka-Seltzer, Maalox, and Gaviscon are a quick fix only for symptoms and will only lead to more reflux as you continue using them.

H2 BLOCKERS

These drugs may be prescription or over-the-counter and include: Axid ,Pepcid, Tagamet, and Zantac.

PROTON PUMP INHIBITORS (PPI)

These drugs work by shutting down virtually all of the stomach acid you need for digestion. They include Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix, Zegerid, and Kapidex.

So if we need hydrochloric acid in our stomach for complete digestion and we continue to turn off normal acid production with drugs, what kind of health problems might we encounter with time? First of all you should understand that your acid reflux will NEVER get any better even though you may be controlling the symptoms. You should also know that you are leaving yourself at risk to a host of serious health problems over time.

Stomach acid is extremely important for sterilization of food against potentially harmful micro-organisms and the infections that may result if this acid could not stop out-of-control colonization of these organisms. Nutritional deficiencies can result from low stomach acid because hydrochloric acid plays an important role in the digestion of protein and the absorption of minerals and vitamins. Because calcium can only be absorbed in an acid medium hypochlorhydria can lead to osteoporosis with time. The bottom line we cannot properly digest and absorb the nutrients from our foods without proper levels of stomach acid.

If you are one of the millions of people in America suffering from Acid Reflux please try the Zypan or other digestive aids to improve the acid condition of your stomach and start digesting your meals better without reflux!

I should also add that a diet of highly processed foods, like most Americans eat, will only compound your digestive discomfort. Start eating whole organic foods like organic fruits and vegetables, free-range meats, and free-range chicken eggs and you will see wonderful changes in your over-all health and your digestion.

As always I like to include an easy to prepare nutritious organic recipe for those of you who enjoy time in the kitchen. These recipes are not difficult and I know that you will enjoy them. Try to use all organic ingredients whenever possible.

Eggplant Marinara

This is a very nice tasty side dish! Can also be served on French bread toast as an appetizer.

  • 1 medium or large eggplant
  • Fresh or frozen organic spinach
  • 2 large cloves of garlic thinly sliced, 2 cloves minced
  • 1 Jar of organic Marinara Sauce
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano

Wash then slice the eggplant into ¼ inch slices. Lay these slices out on a wire tray in a roasting pan. Salt both sides and let stand for 30 minutes. This will let the eggplant sweat. Rinse the slices. Brush eggplant rounds with olive oil with mixture of minced garlic, basil, and oregano.

Set oven to broil and cook for about 5 to 7minutes, watching closely so as not to burn. Turn rounds and sprinkle the eggplant with grated Parmesan cheese and lightly salt and pepper. Broil for another 5 to 7 minutes.

Sautee 2 handfuls of spinach in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with thin garlic slices.

Warm the Marinara sauce on the stove. Put a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the serving dish and then place the eggplant slices. Put some of the sautéed spinach and garlic on each eggplant slice and sprinkle a little more Parmesan on top and serve.

White and Purple Eggplants

The health properties of eggplant include high anti-oxidant levels and are a rich source of folic acid and potassium. Studies have shown it to be an effective treatment of high cholesterol. It is also high in calcium, fiber, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

I sincerely hope that many of you will try this wonderful recipe and if you like eggplant I know that you will love this. My wife and love to serve this as an appetizer to our guest and even friends that are not particularly fond of eggplant seem to love it.

Should you have any questions about the topic of "Acid Reflux" please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call me at 386-956-1668. I am here to help.

Have a Healthy Day!

Dr. Stephen W. Hayman