The True Cause of Acid Reflux

The True Cause of Acid Reflux post image

There is a fine line between being too acidic or too alkaline. One indication of this is reflected in the fact that the PH of the blood is in a very tight range — between 7.35 and 7.45. If the PH of the blood varies by more than two tenths it can be fatal. Consequently, the innate wisdom of the body will do everything in it’s power to maintain a blood PH of 7.40. This is achieved by a complex choreography between the acidifying and alkalizing capacities of the cells, tissues and organs, in response to digestion and other metabolic reactions.

Acidifying Agents: Strong Acids

Substances that acidify the body are not acidic themselves — actually, just the opposite. For example, citrus fruits are acidic when measured. However, when we eat citrus fruits, they act as an alkalizing agent in the body, because the responds to the acid by forming an alkalizing agent (bicarb).

The main acidifying agents in the body result from the digestion of proteins and grains. There are three strong acids: sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid and nitric acid. These are strong enough to burn a hole in your clothes.

Acidifying Agents: Weak Acids

Weak acids, such as vinegar and citrus juices do not ionize  — or break apart completely in solution — whereas strong acids do. Vinegar is not strong enough to burn a hole in your clothes because it does not break apart completely into an acid and a base part. It remains as a salt. A salt is formed when an acid and a base combine and neutralize one another.

Weak acids serve to alkalize your body by supplying more minerals to it. Weak acids like the acetic acid in vinegar, and the acids in citrus fruits, contain minerals which are basic (alkaline), along with their weak acid part. The weak acid part combines with water and is converted into carbonic acid which then breaks apart into carbon dioxide and water. You eliminate this waste product by breathing out the carbon dioxide through the lungs and passing the water out through the kidneys. The minerals remain behind to replenish deficient minerals.

The Problem With Strong Acidifiers

The strong acids are excreted as sodium, potassium, magnesium or calcium salts. The sulfur in sulfuric acid combines with the calcium and magnesium from the bones, and is excreted as the corresponding salt — calcium sulfate and magnesium sulfate. These salts do not harm the kidneys, but eventually they can deplete these alkalizing minerals in your body. This is why a high protein diet may be a contributing factor to osteoporosis. A high grain diet may act in the same way.

If there is too much protein in the diet a latent acidosis may occur (not related to acute blood acidosis which is a medical emergency). This is the same as being too acid or alkali deficient.

Organ of Schade — The Largest Organ in the Body

Did  you know that there is an organ in the body that is actually larger than the largest commonly known organ — the skin? In Europe it is called the colloid connective tissue organ of SCHADE. It is also known as the prekidney because it catches acids through its vast network of collagen fibers — much like a collagen scaffolding that holds the cells in place. These fine fibers act as a holding tank for excess acids that must be kept out of the blood — in order to maintain the 7.40 PH — as they wait for processing by the kidney.

Interestingly, there is a daily rhythm to the acid/alkaline balance in the Organ of Schade.  At approximately 2 AM the urine is the most acidic because the acids are mobilized while we sleep. Consequently the first morning urine is the most acid and rightly so. The urine from the second void is a true reflection of the PH of the body fluids at that time. This second urine should be around 6.7 – 7.0. Many time it is not, because most people are too acid.

Digestion in the Stomach

Hydrochloric acid is produced by the parietal cells of the stomach from salt — sodium chloride. This molecule is split and the chloride and sodium ions become hydrochloric acid and sodium bicarbonate, respectively. These two molecules are produced in a one to one ratio.

The HCl goes into the stomach and the sodium bicarbonate goes into the blood stream, circulates around, seeking the excess acid from the tissues and the colloidal connective tissue organ. Any excess bicarb, is picked up by the alkaline glands: the salivary glands, the gall bladder system, glands in the pylorus (the part of the intestine the stomach is connected to) the liver, pancreas and alkaline glands in the duodenum.

The alkaline component comes from eating enough alkaline forming foods — such as, raw vegetables and fruits and fermented foods and beverages.

An imbalance develops if not enough alkaline forming food is eaten and the sodium bicarbonate generated by the stomach’s cells does not reach the alkaline glands. Some of the alkaline minerals may also get used up in neutralization of acid residues from previous meals that were stored in the connective tissue organ.

Acid Reflux

If there is not enough base left over after your meal to neutralize and clear the acids stored in the connective tissues, a relative latent acidosis (or base deficiency) develops. The liver and pancreas won’t be able to produce adequate alkaline juices to properly digest the food in the next step along the route of digestion.

In this situation, in order to proceed with proper digestion, the stomach has to produce more acid, in order to make enough base. If you remember, the HCl and the bicarb are produced in a one to one ratio. In this way one can develop reflux or even stomach ulcers — very common complaints. The problem is not the result of too much acid, au contraire, it is the result of too little base!

In response, the stomach makes excess acid in order to generate the amount of bicarb it needs to balance the acidity from the foods eaten. It becomes a vicious cycle of trying to generate more bicarb, but generating more acid at the same time.

In addition, because there is an imbalance in the acid/base, pathogenic bacteria start to populate the stomach and esophagus where they are not supposed to be and contribute to symptoms.

The Solution

The solution is to eat more alkaline forming foods. Most people eat more acidic forming foods from proteins and grains and processed foods and not enough vegetables to neutralize it. One of the best ways to get more alkaline forming foods into your diet is to eat more fermented or cultured foods.

A very easy and tasty beverage to incorporate into your daily diet is … kombucha! I bet you knew I would say that! Kombucha is a great way to add enzymes, probiotics and it is alkaline forming in the body! Start by taking an ounce or two with meals and soon you will see a difference in your digestion!

Have you had an improvement in your digestion with kombucha? Please leave a comment and share your experience with us

This post is shared at: Tasty Traditions, Creative Juice Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Keep it Real THursday, Pennywise Platter, Fresh Bites Friday, Fight back Friday, Tasteful Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Hearth & Soul Hop

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Leave a Comment

  • Lori January 9, 2013, 9:50 pm

    I had severe heartburn after brain surgery from all the cortizone they had to give me. I went on all the acid stopping drugs for 4 months and got sicker. I finally listened to Dr. Marshall at and he teaches that no one has too much stomach acid. It is actually from too little stomach acid, hence, the food rots in the intestines produces lactic acid which cause the heartburn. Therefore, one needs more HCL to digest the food. Since taking lots of HCL and air dried sea salt, I no longer have it.

    • Jill January 9, 2013, 10:06 pm

      Hi Lori,
      That must have been awful. I’m so glad you took your health into your own hands. Cortizone can cause irritation and damage to the stomach lining and they routinely give acid blockers with the cortizone.

  • Chrissy January 10, 2013, 9:05 am

    I used to have bad heartburn before going on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to resolve my issues. Once I gave up the grains and sugar, however, most of those symptoms have resolved themselves, although I still have digestive issues, which are slowly beginning to resolve themselves.

    P.S. I am soooo happy about the Wellness E-Book Bundle being offered… feels almost like Christmas seeing how much good stuff is being given away with that bundle. So, I’m definitely going to buy it!

  • Mary Korte January 10, 2013, 9:53 am

    I have had reflux issues for many years and seeking an alternative to tums is partly what led me to a real food diet. I finally figured out that if I ate just veggies and meat with no starch or if I added sauerkraut to my meal I often didn’t have the reflux. Right now I am dabbling in GAPS to try and enact a more permanent solution but was struggling the first few days of intro since I wasn’t having my regular kefir and kombucha. I finally just skipped ahead and now drink 10oz of kefir for my breakfast and 10 oz kombucha with lunch and dinner and I feel much better. I am only 5 days in but I added raw veggies last night and did just fine. This article clears up a few things for me and very well articulates a theory that has been bouncing around in my brain for a while that I was previously unable to confirm. Thank you! Your blog is my favorite and out of the 20+ real food blogs I glance at, the only one I consistently read. 🙂

    • Jill January 10, 2013, 11:42 am

      Hi Mary,
      I’ll take that as a compliment! Thanks for sharing. It just goes to show that we all need to get to know our own bodies and do what is best within the real food guidelines.

  • Nana M. January 10, 2013, 1:21 pm

    Hi Jill:

    I echo the compliments regarding your blog – very well-researched information in an easy to understand format – not an easy task, I’m sure. I have a question about kombucha. Have you come across information about the original sweeteners that were used before industrial sugar became part of the recipe? My family and I have been drinking it with great results for a couple of years, but I always have a nagging concern over ingesting that much sugar, even though I know its composition is changed with the fermentation process (we let ours ferment 21 days). Thanks sincerely for all that you do.

  • Jean January 10, 2013, 2:30 pm

    Can you, should you bottle Kombucha in plastic bottles? The Hy Vee in my state has Kombucha on SALE from a local company. Next to this Kombucha was another one bottled in plastic, it was bottled in Omaha, Nebraska.

  • Emily January 10, 2013, 2:37 pm

    I’ve always know eating more alkaline-forming foods was a good thing, but I didn’t realize the connection to acid reflux. Thanks for sharing.

    Some people find their reflux goes away when they quit eating meat and starches together, too. Another thing to think about.

  • Katie January 15, 2013, 12:18 pm

    Kombucha should always be in glass. I bottle mine in empty wine bottles that have the twist top.

    I’m happy to find this post – I plan on sharing it with my mother – I have been trying to convince her the opposite of what the doctors will tell you. She thinks I’m crazy reaching for the apple cider vinegar + water instead of Tums. I was diagnosed with IBS and acid reflux in my teens (now I’m trying to link them to hormonal BC pills…) and I slowly gave up the pills, introduced kombucha, and started drinking warm water with lemon every morning. Once in a while, I will eat something that still gives me reflux (processed food, grains, etc) and I will take a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and chase it with a glass of water – I get some crazy looks, but my husband actually tried it and it worked for him, too, so now he’s a believer 🙂

    • Jill January 15, 2013, 1:24 pm

      Hi Katie,
      It is hard for people to get their minds around taking something like apple cider vinegar for reflux so I thank you for your first hand experience with this!

  • eatingRD January 16, 2013, 12:14 am

    I used to have heartburn but it dramatically stopped after stopping dairy. I then included more alkaline forming foods, kombucha (had to start with only 1 tbsp!), water kefir and fermented veggies. I’m slowly but surely recovering from chronic inflammation and gut dysbiosis. We love fermented foods!!

  • Jill January 16, 2013, 8:47 am

    That is great to hear!

  • Kathryn D January 16, 2013, 8:10 pm

    I want to try this, as I have been diagnosed with “silent heartburn” and would prefer to treat it naturally!

  • Eloise January 18, 2013, 9:52 am

    I have a question. I’m new at making my own kombucha. I just put a thermometer on my brewing vesel to find out that I’m sitting at 70 degrees. I realize it should be at 75 to 85 degrees. Will this kill my culture? I’ve been drinking the kombucha. Will that temperature grow bad bacteria, is it bad for me?

    • Jill January 18, 2013, 12:41 pm

      Hi Eloise,
      I make my kombucha at about 68 degrees. So you are just right at 70 degrees. O don’t think 75 – 85 is correct. Where did you hear that? From all I’ve read 70 degrees is perfect.

  • Silvia May 12, 2013, 11:58 pm

    thank you for your article, I read it with interest ass I’m quite familiar with heartburn and other digestive discomfort. Since I changed my ”eating style” to maximum unprocessed foods and all homemade meals, heartburn is not the burning issue anymore however heaviness after certain meals persists (like fresh raw milk for example). I instinctively tend to ”administer” apple cider vinegar (with water), or fruits like pine apple, oranges and lemons. I also took (and probably again will ) supplement with HCl, Ox bile and some other staff, think it helped. Just don’t want to be taking the supplement continously till the end of life, is there a chance my body will fix this issue? I also drink kombucha, absolutely love it! Just my midwife recently warned me that as beverage made from tea, it contains tannins which inhibit uptake of iron from food…so that I should not drink it with meals or after. Kind of contradicts the use of kombucha as digestive aid then. Any thoughts on this?

  • Jill May 13, 2013, 1:49 pm

    I would not worry about iron inhibition (if that is true at all) in kombucha drinking. The overriding benefit far out weighs the risk. When you are pregnant they do monitor iron and so any problems would be caught early.

  • Kristie July 15, 2013, 6:35 pm

    I am trying to figure out a plan to help someone who has mercury fillings, gerd, has been on prilosec for alot of years, probably has candida, has slightly elevated fasting glucose. One time (it was a long time ago) he tried taking ACV and it caused him to have worse heartburn pain. Of course, it was cheap grocery store ACV not the good kind. I know he needs to get off white sugar. He has already cut his prilosec in half with no ill effects. He eats a nourishing diet with some grains. Any advice on a good plan for him?