Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is increasingly common with around 60 million Americans currently affected. It is often treated with anti-acid medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) is associated with an increased risk of dementia, depression, colorectal cancer, pneumonia, hip fractures, B-12 deficiency, vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc deficiencies, as well as imbalances to the gut microbiome. Proper acid production in the stomach is vital to the work of many essential digestive enzymes, especially pepsin, for the digestion of proteins. Stomach acid is also important for killing bacteria, viruses, parasites, and yeast that we are exposed to in our diets.

Weaning off a PPI is often difficult. Some measures that participants have used successfully include: tapering the dosage slowly while temporarily increasing the use of Pepcid. Digestive enzymes, sugar-free DGL (from licorice), aloe, l-glutamine, zinc carnosine, ma,gnesium, and probiotics are also helpful. The supervision of a functional medicine practitioner may be helpful, especially to consider if treatment of H. pylori, bacterial, or yeast overgrowth are contributing to your GERD.

Lifestyle Strategies to Address GERD

  • Avoid triggers, such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, chocolate, citrus, tomato-based foods, spicy foods, fried foods, gluten, dairy, and processed foods.
  • Ensure that you have adequate stomach acid to help digest your food.
  • Avoid stress while eating.
  • Chew food well and slowly.
  • Eat smaller and more frequent meals during this healing period.
  • Reduce belly fat and tight clothing around the waist.
  • Don’t eat within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Elevate the top of your bed by 6 to 8 inches.

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