Some effective supplements for GERD include – psyillium husk, activated charcoal, baking soda, digestive enzymes (without any HCL) and specific strains of cannabis. Foods that help include ginger, tempeh and miso soup. Fermented foods such as kefir may also provide some benefit.
It’s worth noting that baking soda can increase the amount of acid your stomach produces if used several times per day, for prolonged periods of time. It is a great pre-workout however and there is some research to suggest that it has benefits in regards to kidney function (reference) and possibly (POSSIBLY) have some level of anti-cancer properties as shown by its ability to enhance the effect of chemotherapy (reference 1, reference 2). Baking soda can also give you an upset stomach if you take too much – start by sipping a small amount in a glass of water (make sure the baking soda is food grade).
Ultimately what works for you, will depend on what is causing the GERD. If it’s not enough stomach acid – then betaine HCL and apple cider vinegar may help.
Acid reflux is a bit of a nightmare.
It is not only very painful and uncomfortable but it can also cause:
- Anxiety and shortness of breath
- Headaches and nosebleeds
- Difficulty eating
My GERD was causing me to wake up with nose bleeds recently, when I started taking lots of vitamin C due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I’d never linked GERD with my sinus ‘issues’ previously, but after a bit of research I found out GERD, can in fact cause problems with the sinuses. It is not uncommon for the acid from GERD to enter the nose and sinuses at night, whilst a person is lying down on their back. This causes the inflammation and nose bleeds that some people suffer from.
Diet and GERD
Under the guidance of a professional, consider the following dietary changes:
- No Citrus fruits
- No tomatoes
- Nothing after 8pm to eat
- No acidic or carbonated sodas or fruit juices etc.
- Lots of fibre – chia seeds soaked for 1 hour+ are great
Not eating citrus or tomatoes has had a huge positive impact on my GERD, as has adding more fibre to my diet. I have overnight oats with chia seeds and a fibre drink 3 times per day. Incredibly boring but worth it.
Supplements and GERD (use at own risk – some people may have side effects)
- Activated charcoal – 5g before bed or when reflux is bad
- Digestive Enzymes – without HCL – no betaine HCL for example. Try 1/4 of a tab first
- Psyllium husk – take 2 or 3 times a day with water
- Probiotics – fermented foods are better but are often quite acidic
- CBD – specific strains of cannabis can help a lot with GERD, others may aggravate it. Smoking and vaping can sometimes make inflammation in the throat worse however, so proceed with caution. Lavender (hybrid) is good for getting rid of the general feeling of nausea.
Honestly, eating for reflux and GERD is more of a lifestyle than a diet. It is very difficult – but it’s worth it.
If you have IBS as well as acid reflux, my big recommendation is to cut out dairy for 3 days and so if you feel any better. This is especially true if you have any sinus problems! This was a life changer for me.
Cutting out gluten also helped me a lot. I’m not gluten intolerant but too much definitely has a negative impact on my gut health.
The FODMAP diet is also worth looking at. FODMAP stands for “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols”. These are carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine.
FODMAPs are generally found in fruits and vegetables. So unfortunately that ‘healthy diet’ you’ve been following, may well be causing you problems. My way around this is to have oats 2 times per day with flaxseed powder and pumpkin seeds, for a healthy, relatively easy to digest source of calories, 2 meals and spirulina powder with MSM, 3 times a day.
GERD & Mental Health
GERD can be caused by mental health problems. Basically, if your mind feels threatened or hypervigilant, then digestion takes a much lower priority and can get partially ‘switched off’ – meaning anything remotely difficult to digest (like lactose in milk) will cause GI discomfort, IBS symptoms and reflux.
For more information about GERD and other digestive issues (also muscle tension and headaches) – and their link with mental health, please read about the polyvagal theory here on counseling.org.
Always Find the Positive
Although reflux and stomach problems are not nice, they do very much help me to control my diet and my body weight. I’m also very knowledgeable and have experience of most diets now! There’s nothing like physical pain and/or discomfort to motivate a person to learn and to try things out.
Apologies for the picture – but I always get inquiries about nutrition & training after posting a photo with favourable light.