Stomach acid has long been blamed for acid reflux, heartburn and other ills. But now some experts are starting to think that the problems may lie not just in the acid coming up from the stomach but in the food going down. Making a change to low-acid eating can improve gut health.
The idea has been getting a lot of attention lately, notably in popular books like “Crazy Sexy Diet” and “The Acid Alkaline Food Guide” — which claim that readers can improve their health by focusing on the balance of acid and alkaline in the diet, mostly by eating more vegetables and certain fruits and fewer meats and processed foods. The diet also focuses on portion size.
Tips for Low-Acid Eating
1. Remember that one serving of meat, poultry, or fish is about the size of a deck of playing cards. It should take up about one-fourth of your dinner plate; reserve the other three-fourths for fruit and vegetables.
2. Keep in mind that it takes three servings of fruits and veggies to neutralize the acid in one serving of flesh food, and two servings of fruits and veggies to neutralize one serving of grain.
3. If you eat the recommended five servings of fruits and veggies every day, you can safely eat one serving of meat (or fish or chicken). It’s still wise to plan at least one day a week without animal protein.
Low stomach acid allows bacteria to grow in your stomach, which can cause reflux. Using foods to control your reflux can prevent pain and damage to your body while preserving enough stomach acid to prevent bacterial growth.
Here are a few foods to alleviate acid reflux naturally.
Bananas: Known for being high in potassium, bananas also have a low pH (acidity) and are typically advised for an acid reflux diet.
Egg whites are a great, low-fat source of protein which may be useful for people with GERD trying to reduce their fat intake. The majority of the vitamins, minerals, beneficial fats, and other nutrients are found in the egg yolk though, so include these in your diet as well from time to time.
Sow milk: Cow’s milk can trigger reflux, so trying alternatives such as soy milk can be helpful.
Vinegar: Since acid reflux is often caused by low stomach acid after too many PPIs, drinking apple cider vinegar before meals can help reduce reflux. For best results, mix the vinegar with water or manuka honey. Drinking the yeast, mother, or bacteria which made the vinegar can also give your stomach a pro-biotic boost, helping to reduce harmful bacteria which thrive in a low-acid stomach.
Popcorn is made from a whole grain, and can make a great snack. Be sure to only eat plain popcorn with nothing added.
If you have heartburn two or more times a week and changes to your diet or eating pattern haven’t helped, consult a healthcare practitioner.