s blog post was adapted from the webinar “Probiotics Explained” hosted by Dr. Trish Murray.

Watch this full webinar on our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/bPg_HR6_1Ng

Acid reflux also referred to as heartburn, is the result of acidic digestive juices from the stomach backing up into the esophagus.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a more advanced, chronic form of acid reflux.

Did you know that between 4%-10% of adults experience symptoms of acid reflux or GERD on a daily basis, and in Western countries, up to 30% of adults experience symptoms weekly?

Let’s take a look at what causes acid reflux and GERD.

Well, There’s a whole series of causes, everything from what you are eating daily, to a  lifestyle with too much stress and not enough exercise, to smoking, caffeine, or alcohol, to bacteria in your gut, to food sensitivities—all these things can trigger reflux.

Here are some leading causes:

  • -Eating right before bed.
  • -Eating too much.
  • -Eating certain foods that for many promote reflux. We’ll discuss a list later.
  • -Being overweight can push your stomach up, causing reflux.
  • -Chronic stress affects the nerves in your stomach, making it impossible to process the food properly. This will cause food and stomach juices to reflux rather than move downward into the intestines.
  • -Loss of magnesium, which is caused by stress. Magnesium is needed to relax the sphincter at the bottom of your stomach that actually lets the food move downward.
  • -Food sensitivities including gluten and dairy or others we will discuss
  • -Bad bacteria or yeast growing in your stomach. If you have been on a lot of antibiotics, if you have been on hormones, if you eat a lot of sugar and processed food, you could grow bad bugs in your gut, and they ferment and can cause reflux.
  • -Not producing enough acid in the stomach to keep the environment within the stomach itself at the right acidity for proper function.

Let’s discuss this last one in more detail.  You see, the traditional medical model approaches acid reflux with the theory that the stomach is producing too much acid and therefore prescribes antacids and proton pump inhibitor pills like the purple pill on commercials that block gastric acid secretion.  These medications can have side effects of abdominal pain, diarrhea and headache acutely; but also more recently are being shown chronically to lower calcium, magnesium, and B12 levels, can increase risk of C. Difficile diarrhea, chronic kidney disease and pneumonia.

On the other hand, in the Naturopathic model, acid reflux is theorized to be due more to not producing enough stomach acid.  The stomach you see is meant to be a VERY acidic environment in order to break down and digest our foods, particularly proteins.   The pH of the stomach is meant to be as low as 1.8, which is extremely acidic.  The pH scale runs from 1.0 to 14.0 and 7.0 is considered neutral.  Our blood is regulated to stay between 7.35 to 7.45 which is in the neutral range, but our stomach acid is again meant to function at a very acidic pH level of 1.8.  AND, if the pH of the stomach is not acidic enough the sphincter at the distal end of the stomach that allows the digestive juices and material to move downward may not open, which would cause reflux.   In this model the treatment recommendation is to take betaine HCL, which is hydrochloric acid with meals in order to increase stomach acid rather than decrease it.

There are many symptoms of acid reflux and GERD, so it’s best to check in with your doctor to find out if what you are experiencing is symptomatic of reflux. The Mayo Clinic lists the following as common symptoms associated with acid reflux and GERD:

A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), usually after eating, which might be worse at night


  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid in mouth or throat
  • A sensation of a lump in your throat
  • If you have nighttime acid reflux, you might also experience:
  • Chronic cough
  • Laryngitis
  • New or worsening asthma
  • Disrupted sleep

Now, there is a Baking Soda Stomach Acid Test you can do at home and see if it helps you clarify if you have insufficient stomach acid.  It is based on the theory that acid reflux is due to not enough stomach acid rather than too much:  This is how you do it:

  1. Mix ¼ tsp. of baking soda in 4 to 6 ounces of cold water.
  2. Drink the baking soda solution
  3. Time how long it takes for a burp to occur.  Time if for up to 5 minutes.
  4. If you have not burped within five minutes, it may be a sign of insufficient stomach acid.

There are several ways to overcome the symptoms and complications caused by acid reflux and GERD, and we will be taking a closer look at many of them to highlight some steps that can be taken at home for natural relief

Here’s what we will be covering:

  • Diet and Food Allergens
  • Lifestyle Triggers
  • Bad Routines
  • Stress
  • Supplements

We will begin with diet…


Before we get into some specific food recommendations, it is important to look at foods that could be aggravating existing acid reflux and GERD symptoms.

‘Healthy GERD Diet’ is an online resource with many answers for GERD sufferers, and they have created a general list of things to avoid including:

  • Spicy Foods

Certain hot spices are known to irritate the esophagus and cause heartburn.

  • Trans Fats and High Fat Processed Foods

High-fat foods, particularly those that contain trans fats, can cause reflux because of the large amounts of acid required to digest them.  Most processed and packaged foods that can live on a shelf for years without going bad have trans fats because it is these fats that do not break down and therefore are very hard for you to digest properly.

  • Very Hot Food and Liquid

It is best to let food and beverages cool a little before consuming since very hot substances have been linked to stomach and intestinal ulcers, which can intensify the symptoms of acid reflux.

  • Mint and Chocolate

Both peppermint and chocolate contain chemicals that can stimulate the release of stomach acids while also relaxing the smooth muscle sphincter between the stomach and esophagus, often resulting in acid reflux and heartburn.

Your Own Trigger Foods

Given the complex nature of GERD, this one has to be added.  So many people have different food sensitivities that are individual to them.  The best way to identify ones own individualized food sensitivities is to do a comprehensive elimination diet for 3 weeks and then systematically rechallenge each category of food eliminated and monitor for negative reactions.  Doing a Comprehensive Elimination Diet is a Fundamental Functional Medicine step and so we at DHFMC have created a number of different level programs to help patients be successful with detoxing, healing the gut and identifying your food sensitivities.

Keep a food journal and write down any foods you have eaten whenever you experience symptoms of acid reflux. Being able to identify trigger foods makes it easier to eliminate them.

A more complete list of GERD foods to avoid includes:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated Drinks
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus Fruits and Juices
  • Tomatoes and tomato-based foods
  • Garlic
  • Mint
  • Fried Foods
  • Fast Foods and Processed Snacks

“Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together” (Celiac Disease Foundation, n.d.).

The cause of acid reflux and GERD have often been associated with a gluten allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity, which (if undiagnosed) can lead to inflammation and leaky gut syndrome with acid reflux and GERD likely related (Dr. Axe, n.d.).

Thankfully, there are diets out there that cater to a gluten-free lifestyle, so finding food lists and recipes to get you started is easy.

Next, we will look at a couple of popular diets that are gluten-free.

Here we highlight two popular options for someone going gluten-free, or just someone wanting to start eating better for an overall healthier life:

The Paleo Diet, founded by Dr. Loren Cordain, is based on the premise that modern day diets should mimic the diets eaten by early humans, comprised of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, leaving out any grain or processed foods. (https://thepaleodiet.com/)

A study published in JAMA Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery in 2017 showed that a  more Plant Based Mediterranean Diet reported less frequent acid reflux in participants.

The Whole30 is a 30-day guided diet program that focuses on eating only meats, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats via recipes with very few ingredients. (https://whole30.com)

If someone is looking for more support and assistance with changing their diet and healing their gut our Detox Plus Program and 12 week Fundamental Functional Medicine Program provides exactly what you need to be successful.

Whatever you are craving for breakfast, there are plenty of great recipes out there to get you started that are both delicious and safe options for those who suffer from acid reflux and GERD.

On a Paleo Diet Smoothies,  eggs or left overs from dinner the evening before are great options.

If you are eating grains, then oatmeal is a great source of fiber and oats absorb stomach acid and reduce symptoms of GERD.

Foods that can help provide Reflux Free Eating Include:

  1. Oatmeal, as we just pointed out
  2. Bananas
  3. Salad Greens and veggies like cucumber and celery or other water-filled foods can help dilute stomach acid.
  4. Yogurt and remember if you are sensitive to dairy there are many non dairy yogurt options now like almond or cashew based yogurt
  5. Ginger Tea


According to Kevin Ghassemi, a gastroenterologist at the University of California, alcohol, nicotine from tobacco, and caffeine are all attributed to heartburn.

The reason, Dr. Ghassemi explains, “is a ring of muscle — called the lower esophageal sphincter — located at the junction between the stomach and the esophagus. The muscle is supposed to be closed, except when food is passing into the esophagus” (Oregon Public Broadcasting, 2012).

The problem with alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine is that they relax the esophageal sphincter, and that then allows acids from the stomach to back up into the esophagus, causing acid reflux.

If possible, cut down or eliminate these stimulants to help relieve the symptoms of acid reflux and GERD.

Whether you are feeling stress over a work deadline, or maybe due to lack of sleep, or even from a life-threatening situation, the body handles stress in much the same way, no matter what the circumstance.

Stress causes the body to draw blood away from the stomach to feed the muscles and the brain in situations where it perceives a threat. Because digestion is not an essential function in survival, blood flow to the stomach decreases, allowing the lower esophageal sphincter to relax so that stomach acid can back up into the esophagus and cause heartburn, or acid reflux (Dr. Tonia, n.d.).


deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, or massage can help with stress management. If you are looking for a program to help you with stress relief and get you moving we have created Discover Health Movement Membership, which can be done online or in person at DHFMC Studio Suite.   There are three classes weekly and recordings can be done anytime without leaving your home.

Next, let’s take a look at some great breathing exercises to help relieve stress.

There are a number of breathing techniques to consider for stress reduction:  All of them can be done daily in just a few minutes:

  • Pursed lip breathing
  • Take a breath for about 2 counts. Then pucker your lips and exhale for 4 counts. Do this for a few rounds.
  • Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. As you breathe in deeply for a count of 4, your belly should stick out a bit. Feel the air expanding your stomach and then breathe out slowly through the lips.
  • 4-7-8
  • Breath in for a count of 4, then Hold the breath in for 7 counts, then release it in 8 counts, and repeat at least three times.

You’ll notice all of these different options have you exhaling for a longer time then you inhale.  This is because inhaling is run by your Sympathetic Nervous System, which is your fight or flight Stress nervous system and exhalation is controlled by your Parasympathetic Nervous System, which is your rest and digest nervous system and therefore promotes relaxation and quiets the mind.

There are many beneficial natural supplements you can add  as well to optimize the function of your upper GI tract:

Here are some recommendations:

  • Digestive Enzymes – Help foods fully digest and nutrients absorb properly.
  • Probiotics – Add healthy bacteria to balance the digestive tract and crowd out bad bacteria that can lead to indigestion, leaky gut and poor absorption of nutrients.
  • Chamomile tea – Helps to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, supporting healthy functioning.
  • Ginger tea – Is good for digestive support and can relieve symptoms of acid reflux and GERD.
  • Papaya leaf tea – also called Papain, an enzyme found in papaya, aids in digestion by breaking down proteins.
  • Magnesium complex supplement – Is effective at treating heartburn symptoms.
  • L-Glutamine – Helps to heal leaky gut and benefits both ulcerative colitis and IBS.

Beyond these as I mentioned earlier one can take Betaine HCL with meals containing protein.   A person should start by taking one tablet of betaine HCL with any meal that contains protein and monitor the effect.  IF you experience a worsening of your heartburn each time to try this, then this is a sign that taking betaine HCL is NOT the answer for you and you should stop taking it.    However, if it only makes a mild improvement or does not worsen symptoms, then you may need a high dose.  In this case you could increase the amount you take with each meal to 2, 3 or more tablets per meal that includes protein.  This tends to not be a black and white situation so it may take trial and error to figure out.   And once your gut is healing, your changing your diet and lifestyle and  your reflux is improving you may need to reduce the amount of betaine HCL you are taking.

You can, but antacids are used to neutralize stomach acids, not inhibit new acids from forming, so there is no lasting relief. On the other hand, acid-blocking medicines, also known as Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI), do inhibit acids by suppressing natural secretion.

Suppressing acid secretion does bring temporary relief, but it does not work to address the underlying cause of the symptoms. In other words, there is no end to taking antacids or PPIs, despite their recommended uses, which can result in many complications as suppressing the body’s natural production and processes impairs the body’s ability to absorb nutrients that are essential to maintaining a healthy body (The Reflux Defense, n.d.).

Instead, try these natural home remedies for those immediate needs while you make the bigger changes we have covered for more long-term relief…

Instead of taking an antacid or an acid-blocking medicine, you could  try these fast-acting, natural home remedies:


Take one tablespoon of raw organic apple cider vinegar mixed in a 10-12 ounce glass with a small amount of juice and the rest water before each meal. This will help calm the stomach and supports digestion; it’s also my favorite, fast-acting home remedy for acid reflux.


Bicarbonate is a wonder product. Mix a spoonful in a glass of water, stir, and drink before it stops fizzing.


Aloe vera is commonly used to calm an upset stomach, diarrhea, and inflammation associated with bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis. Inner Leaf Aloe vera gel or juice is a way of processing aloe vera where the outside rind and thorns of an aloe leaf have been stripped away to reveal the gel-like fillet in the center.  This has been found to support digestion and is another great alternative for soothing acid reflux.

Another thing to consider incorporating into your weekly routine is bone broth which supplies amino acids, minerals, electrolytes, antioxidants, and collagen to help heal the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (Dr. Axe, n.d.).

Bone Broth recipe is easy to make.

bake a chicken for dinner one evening for your family and then instead of throwing the carcass away when you have finished eating the meat put the carcass in a crockpot full of water with a couple tablespoons of vinegar and simmer for 8-10 hours.  Then use a slotted spoon to remove all the bones and you have bone broth.  You can then pour half of the broth into a glass mason jar and put in the refrigerator and drink a teacup amount of daily for the next few days and make a soup out of the rest left in the crock pot for dinner.

We covered a lot here today. You may be feeling a bit overwhelmed, but you’ve got this!

We believe that everything we have covered here today is a great starting point for you to make the necessary changes in your life to help you overcome the pain and discomfort brought on by acid reflux and GERD.  And if you are feeling like you may need further support then contact us at discoverhealthcoaching@gmail.com or go to our website at discoverhealthfmc.com to learn more about our programs.

We hope you enjoyed the event!

Thank you for attending!

Below are the resources used to put this presentation together for you:  Explain about DHFB group.

  • Axe, Josh, Dr. (n.d.). “Acid Reflux Diet: Best Foods, Foods to Avoid & Supplements that Help”. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/acid-reflux-diet/, 2/15/2018.
  • Axe, Josh, Dr. (n.d.). “Bone Broth Benefits for Digestion, Arthritis and Cellulite”. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/the-healing-power-of-bone-broth-for-digestion-arthritis-and-cellulite/, 2/15/2018.
  • Axe, Josh, Dr. (2014) “How to Naturally Treat Acid Reflux”. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufrJoRc7KaY, 2/15/2018.
  • Celiac Disease Foundation. (n.d.). “What is Gluten?”. Retrieved from https://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/glutenfreediet/what-is-gluten/, 2/15/2018.
  • Ghassemi, Kevin Dr. (2012). “Got Heartburn? Maybe You Should Rethink Your Drink”. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/08/13/158097387/got-heartburn-maybe-you-should-rethink-your-drink, 2/15/2018.
  • Group, Edward Dr. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/about/dr-group, 2/15/2018.
  • Healthy GERD Diet. (n.d.) “Making Your Healthy GERD Diet for Acid Reflux”.Retrieved from https://www.gerd-diet.com/, 2/15/2018.
  • Hyman, Mark Dr. (2009) “3 Simple Steps to Eliminate Heartburn and Acid Reflux”. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORY1cUB_k6M, 2/15/2018.
  • Hyman, Mark Dr. (n.d.). “7 Steps To Reverse Acid Reflux”. Retrieved from http://drhyman.com/blog/2013/09/26/7-steps-reverse-acid-reflux/, 2/15/2018.
  • Mark’s Daily Apple. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.marksdailyapple.com/, 2/15/2018
  • Mayo Clinic, The. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gerd/symptoms-causes/syc-20361940, 2/15/2018.
  • Paleo Diet, The. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://thepaleodiet.com/, 2/15/2018.
  • Whole30, The. (n.d). Retrieved from https://whole30.com, 2/15/2018.
  • Tonia, Dr. (n.d.). “Stomach Acid and Stress. It’s Not What You Think”. Retrieved from http://www.drtoniawinchester.com/stomach-acid-and-stress/, 2/15/2018.


It means a lot to be able to share our lesson with people who are ready to make a difference.

Now it is time to implement some of the things we discussed.

Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns. We’re here to help!  Discoverhealthcoaching@gmail.com or check out our website: discoverhealthfmc.com


Watch this webinar presentation on our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/bPg_HR6_1Ng

Contact Discover Health Functional Medicine Center:

For more information on the Discover Health Movement Membership

Get your FREE copy of Dr. Trish Murray’s first book Make a D.E.N.T. in Chronic Disease

Join the Discover Health Community today: