The Acid Reflux Disease Diet
The Acid Reflux Disease Diet
It's estimated that around 25 million people suffer from daily acid reflux, and over 60 million people suffer from less frequent bouts. I became one of the daily acid reflux sufferers about 3 years ago, and it caused me no end of trouble.
I think most people know at least one person who has to deal with acid reflux disease, or with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), and how much trouble it can cause. For me it started off as a minor irritation, then grew to a major annoyance, and finally into a serious problem that was slowly destroying my health and happiness. It got so bad that I often went 3 days at a time without sleep, and when I finally did get some rest, it was only when I got so tired I would literally pass out while sitting up in bed.
I knew something had to change, so I started doing some research. The internet is a wonderful thing, and I give it full credit for leading me to the information that eventually helped me to defeat my acid reflux disease once and for all. I'm hoping that writing this will help others regain control of their lives, so they can stop worrying about things we should all be able to do with ease--like sleep and eat.
What Do You Know About pH?
When I was learning about pH in science class years ago, I never would have believed how important it would someday become to me. What most people don't know, and I didn't either until I did quite a bit of reading on acid reflux disease, is that pH is a huge factor in maintaining a healthy body.
For those of you who don't remember high school science too well, here's a quick reminder:
- The pH scale is a scientific measurement of the acidity or basicity of a solution
- The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14
- 7 is neutral, with higher numbers being more alkaline, or basic, and lower numbers being more acidic
The main thing you have to know about pH, though, is its importance in maintaining the state of homeostasis in your body. Homeostasis is basically when your body is in equilibrium. When the pH in your body becomes too acidic, many problems arise--some of which can lead to chronic disease and potentially shorten your life.
The human body is designed to run on a slightly alkaline pH. The typical diet in the Western Hemipsphere is one that is very acidic, as well as acid-inducing. This poorly-balanced diet shifts the pH in our body until it simply can't run as smoothly as it needs to. The end result for many of us is acid reflux disease, or GERD.
It may sound too good to be true, but it's actually very easy for many people to cure or at least greatly lessen their acid reflux. Be aware, though, that you should always consult your primary physician if you have the symptoms of acid reflux--some cases can be so serious that they require medication, surgery, or both.
The Acid Alkaline Food Guide
So Now What?
Ok, now that we've established that acid reflux is due to a pH imbalance, generally due to a poor diet, how do we fix it? Since an imbalanced pH diet is the problem, a pH balanced diet is the solution--it's as simple as that.
First of all, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of The Acid Alkaline Food Guide. It's the book that set me on the right path and was an invaluable resource for curing my pH imbalance and acid reflux disease. Even if you don't want to read the beginning of the book where it gives all the background information on pH and GERD, the charts and tables in the back of the book are absolutely indespensable, and you'll find yourself needing to refer to them constantly.
When I first went to my doctor, he prescribed me Protonix, which worked very well. But one day I was eating breakfast and I decided out of boredom to read the little pamphlet that came with my prescription and was horrified to learn that taking it for several months could potentially cause stomach cancer. No thank you, I'd rather have acid reflux!
This led me to finally start the pH diet to see if I could control my reflux myself. It took about 3 months, so don't expect instant gratification, but it DID work. Now, after over two years, I haven't had acid problems in longer than I can remember.
The method is simple: remove acid-forming foods from your diet as much as you can, and replace them with alkaline foods. Simple, right? But...
What Foods Are Acid-forming? What Foods Are Alkaline?
Like I've already said, you're going to need a copy of The Acid Alkaline Food Guide for the wonderful A-to-Z listing of acid-forming and alkaline-forming foods, but I can give you a small list to give you a general idea and get you started.
First of all, the worst things you can do to the pH of your body. Avoid everything on this list COMPLETELY for at least the first month of your pH diet. Once you've established a healthy pH and learned to balance your meals and snacks, you can start to sneak them in again, but until then, you really need to eliminate them from your diet entirely.
- Soda, Pop, Coke--call it what you will, the worst acid-forming food of all is carbonated beverages. No, diet sodas aren't ok. By the way, they're terrible for your teeth too, so you're really helping yourself out by avoiding these anyway.
- Sugar. When I first went on my pH diet, I didn't eat ANYTHING containing sugar for just over 6 months. Sound like torture? Nope, torture is going 3 days without sleep because of the raging inferno in your chest. Sugar is absolutely horrible for your body's pH, so do yourself a favor and cut it out, or at least minimize it. That includes foods that contain sugar too, like ice cream, cookies, candy, cake--basically everything you shouldn't be eating anyway.
- Alcohol. This one is crucial. On top of being poison, alcoholic beverages are also champs at imbalancing your pH. Sometimes it's difficult to avoid alcohol altogether--especially at social events. If you want to have a drink or two, fine--but make sure you eat or drink something alkaline to balance your pH.
- Chocolate. This may be harder for women than men, due to choco binges and such, but chocolate really is an acid-forming baddy, so take one on the chin and avoid chocolate until your pH is back in balance. Even though I don't have any reflux problems any more, I still get heartburn sometimes when I eat chocolate. I think this varies from person to person.
Remember--this isn't forever, just until you get things back under control. You will have to exercise self-control and eat these baddies in moderation after you get your pH in check, but you WILL be able to eat them again some day.
Now for some good news--there are plenty of great, healthy foods that are strongly alkaline, and will help you balance your pH quickly. Here's a short list of some of the best of the best pH boosters.
- Lemons. This may sound very very wrong, since we all know that citrus fruit is very acidic, but what most people don't know is that lemons are the most perfect pH balancing food on the planet. The reason for this is that they start off acidic in pH, but are alkaline-forming, which is the important thing in choosing pH-balancing foods. In The Acid Alkaline Food Guide, the authors advise to start each day with a glass of mineral water and half a squeezed lemon. I tried it out and fell in love. Now my friends are drinking it too, just because it's so delicious and refreshing.
- Sweet Potatoes. Yes, you read that right. Sweet potatoes aren't just a great tasting source of vitamin A, they're also one of the strongest and fastest pH balancing foods in the world. Very soon I'll be writing about some of my favorite sweet potato recipes that helped me get through the first month of my pH diet. Before I started my pH diet, I only ate sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving. Now I eat them several times a week, and I couldn't be happier about it. Mmmmmm---they are so delicious.
- Leafy green vegetables. Yup, those scary-looking things that most of us try to avoid at all costs are a pH-balancing powertool. The easiest way I found to get a healthy dose of leafy greens was to juice them in the morning with a carrot and an apple, or to just eat a nice salad for lunch. Be careful about your salad dressing though--most of them are very acid-forming and high in sugar. Some examples of alkaline leafy greens are: Romaine lettuce, Kale, Parsley, Swiss Chard, and Collard Greens.
Ok, I've covered the basics of the acid reflux disease diet, but the rest is up to you. The best thing you can do for yourself is to pick up a copy of The Acid Alkaline Food Guide, read it (it's a quick read), or just skip to the middle for the food guide, and start fixing that pH.
The first few days of the diet is a struggle, but once you get to week 2 it'll get a lot easier. By the end of the first month, your pH will probably be in good enough shape for you to ease off a little bit, and by month 3 you should be able to eat like a normal person again for the most part. Just remember that it takes time for your body to notice a change in diet, so don't expect immediate results, and if you fall off the wagon, don't beat yourself up over it--just get back on.
EDIT: I've just published a new article that goes a little deeper into pH-balancing foods HERE, so check it out!