The Heartburn Myth
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I wrote recently about THE BIG MYTH OF ALKALINITY being the key to wellness. In short, all body fluids have a proper pH, and attempting to alkalinize the body in general, or manipulate the pH of your body at all, well…that’s misguided at best, and unhealthy at worst. Like most health trends, the alkaline pitch is not grounded in the complex reality of the human body.
But there’s one acid response in the body that most people will experience at some point, and just about everyone will do the exact wrong thing:
When you experience heartburn, I’m willing to bet you take a calcium tablet- Rolaids, Tums, or something similar. Well, surprisingly, especially given the prevalence of the alkaline myth, you should be doing the opposite and taking an acid.
What is heartburn?
Heartburn occurs when waste acid from the bowels (not, critically, the stomach) rises up through your esophagus. This is a very weak acid. It is uncomfortable and even painful, to be sure, but it is not a strong enough acid to be dangerous. If you were to have regular stomach acid rising up through your esophagus, you would develop an ulcer.
The bowels release this lactic acid to compensate when your stomach acid’s pH is getting too high. Heartburn or acid reflux means you’re not acid enough.
1. What happens when you take a calcium tablet for heartburn?
Calcium tablets alkalinize and neutralize the acid in your esophagus, and this stops the pain and discomfort instantly. It doesn't fix the problem, however; treating symptoms rarely does. A symptom is never the real problem: it's just a clue.
In the case of taking antacids for heartburn, the treatment actually perpetuates the problem. Your body tries to correct a lack of acid and it causes discomfort. You treat the discomfort by eliminating even more acid. If you keep doing that, your body will have a very hard time getting your acid levels in line!
Extended use of antacids can contribute to a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disorder. When this happens, the valve that releases lactic acid (like when you get heartburn) never closes. This can cause a whole host of digestive symptoms and diseases, some as serious as Crohn's disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
2. What should I do when I get heartburn?
When heartburn strikes, you can help your body balance its acids by taking an acid. My personal recommendation for this simple treatment is a tablespoon of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar in a glass of water. This product not only helps acidify your stomach, but also contains potassium and electrolytes.
It’s a good way to manage your symptoms, but it’s still better to avoid this issue in the first place. If your stomach pH is consistently off and causing heartburn and discomfort, you may want to take ACV (apple cider vinegar) more regularly, and you definitely want to clean up your diet. Eliminate junk foods and simple carbohydrates, and eat for your body type as best you know how.
Make sure your diet provides plenty of support for your pancreas, gallbladder, and liver, and never rely on calcium tablets and alkaline water!
Understand heartburn and see more Digestion advice from Dr. Berg Video Blog.
*Any comments on our blog or websites relating to weight loss results may or may not be typical and your results will vary depending on your diet and exercise habits.