Stomach acid is considered enemy number one based on the number of prescriptions written each year for drugs that block the production of stomach acid.
A 2010 study found that PCOS is also associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), so inadequate digestion is a big deal with PCOS, and your IBS could begin in the stomach based on the amount of stomach acid you produce.
Acid reflux is a symptom of poor digestion. And poor digestion causes inflammation which is an underlying cause of many of the symptoms of PCOS.
When you heal acid reflux or GERD, you’ll not only alleviate the symptoms below, but you’ll also begin to feel better overall. Maybe even a lot better.
Here are some symptoms of acid reflux:
- Burning sensation in the esophagus that is felt behind the breastbone and can move up into the neck and throat area
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
- Asthma or wheezing
- Persistent cough
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Throat problems
- Bad breath
The burning can last for several hours and may worsen after eating.
You may be taking a drug like Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, Pepcid, Tagamet, or Zantac to help alleviate these symptoms. Even something over the counter like Tums or Pepto-Bismol are common go-tos.
These represent three categories of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors, H2 blockers or antacids to help stop acid reflux or GERD.
They may offer temporary relief of acute symptoms but when taking these medications long-term they will only make your symptoms worse.
Here’s the interesting part: acid reflux may actually be a sign that you have low stomach acid, NOT high stomach acid.
That’s because when your stomach acid is strong and digestion is working properly, it signals the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that separates your esophagus from your stomach to close.
When your stomach acid is NOT strong, the LES never gets the signal to close, so whatever stomach acid is present creeps up into the esophagus.
I know that when I eat certain foods I’ll get acid reflux. Turkey or wheat over several days causes acid reflux for me.
What foods make it worse for you?
Low stomach acid causes leaky gut, which, according to Grace Liu of the Gut Institute also causes a leaky vagina: compromised vaginal, uterine and ovarian health.
Forbes, Harvard, Scientific American and a study at the National Institutes of Health have reported that you may be at a much higher risk for experiencing cognitive decline, or suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s when you take antacids, especially the H2 blockers.
And with lower stomach acid your immune system is compromised, it’s harder for you to build muscle, have happy brain chemistry, build bone or detox. Your anxiety or depression may get worse and you may gain weight more easily.
It’s really quite a health mess.
So what can you do? Here are seven things you can do right now to begin to heal your digestion.
When you have a flare up, dissolve one teaspoon of baking soda in eight ounces of water and drink it down on an empty stomach. This will neutralize the stomach acid immediately.
You want STRONG stomach acid during a meal to break down the protein and protect the rest of your digestive tract, so only use the above technique when in need on an empty stomach.
Add in foods rich in probiotics, a probiotic supplement and foods high in l-glutamine. Coconut yogurt (unsweetened), kefir (unsweetened), coconut kefir and even small amounts of Kombucha will be helpful. Raw sauerkraut and kimchi both contain beneficial bacteria. Use one to two tablespoons with your meals.
L-glutamine is an amino acid that has amazing gut-healing properties. These foods contain the highest amounts: bone broth, 100% grass fed beef, spirulina, chinese cabbage, asparagus, broccoli rabe, wild-caught salmon or cod, and venison.
Eliminate added sugar, artificial sweeteners and processed foods. Sugar feeds the “bad guys” that can overgrow and compromise your digestion, and artificial sweeteners can imbalance your good gut bacteria. Processed foods have so many chemicals, making them harder to digest and “process”.
Try using one teaspoon apple cider vinegar mixed in 2-4 ounces water before each meal to improve stomach acid. Gradually increase to one tablespoon.
Take digestive enzymes with every meal along with betaine hcl and pepsin, as many as you can tolerate. Start with one capsule and then go to two, then three, etc. at each meal until you feel a warming sensation or a bit of acid reflux, and then back down to the dose right before the one that caused the warming sensation. Continue taking that amount until you feel the warming sensation again, and then remove one capsule. This may take weeks to get down to 1 capsule per meal or none.
Chew your food really well and eat mindfully. Sit at the table while eating, light a candle, enjoy good conversation and go for a short walk afterwards.
Get good rest. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep at night so that you can handle stress better. Stress will cause poor digestion starting the cycle all over again.
Not every suggestion here works for every person, so begin with one thing and see what you notice.
If one of the suggestions above doesn’t work for you right now, give it another try in a couple of weeks. Keep at it because your health depends on it.
Let me know how this goes for you!