It's funny because GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) is one of the main reasons I changed my diet, but I don't blog about it much. I guess it's because I don't have it anymore. Neither do my sister or father. I think my case was the toughest because I had been on the evil proton pump inhibitors the longest. It probably took me six months to really feel better. I haven't had it since, except once when I was coming out of a long backpacking trip through Eastern Europe that involved a lot of bad sleep, alcohol, and cake. I'd also gotten strep throat in Hungary and had taken ibuprofen as much as I could get away with in order to prevent my trip from being ruined. But my stomach felt ruined when I got back to homebase in Uppsala. I had some GERD symptoms and had to eat a careful diet again to get rid of them.
I feel bad for the people who don't opt for a more holistic approach and instead cling to the notion that it's "acid" or "spice" in food that causes GERD, which has never been proven. Some studies show that they can make symptoms worse, but there is no evidence they cause GERD.
And I knew I could NEVER live a life without meyer lemons or Thai curries.
Through the years I've mused on what could have caused my GERD. I have a list in a .txt file with my main candidates.
- dysfunctional levels of prostaglandins: either too low from NSAID use (which compromises stomach integrity) or too high from excessive consumption of omega-6 (inflammation)
- poor nutrition which prevents the stomach from repairing itself
- allergens that cause or exacerbate inflammation
- poor digestive system integrity
- imbalanced bacteria
- stress from bad sleep quality or other factors
*added this one: improper levels of acid, too high or too low, and often at the wrong time
I mention inflammation a lot and I think it's a big factor and why I've never found that GERD was tied to specific foods. I also think it's why GERD is more common in overweight people, not because they are overweight, but because people who are overweight tend to have more inflammation.
Unfortunately inflammation has many many causes. I think a multi-pronged approach to GERD:
- corrects fatty acid imbalance by lowering omega-6 consumption and increasing omega-3 consumption (but be careful with fish oil since it can irritate the stomach in the same way NSAIDs can, so lowering omega-6 can be more powerful)
- improves nutritional quality with things like offal, bone marrow, roe, and other nutrient-dense foods
- balances bacteria through probiotics and carbohydrate restriction (SCD theory)
- avoids potentially allergenic foods like gluten while recovering, which can be tricky since some of these allergenic foods are "paleo" such as eggs, so a proper elimination diet is important
- avoids NSAIDS
- corrects sleep problems by sleeping regular 7-8 hours in nice dark room
-* restores normal acid production with proper protein/nutrient consumption and restoring integrity of stomach lining