How to Treat GERD
April 23, 2003
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Tom Cowan, MD
Medicines for stomach
and upper digestive system problems are currently the largest
selling medicines in the country, an amount totaling billions
of dollars per year. Luckily for you and many others, this
is a problem that is often rapidly amenable to dietary intervention.
Treating GERD brings
up a quandary that one often encounters in the world of medicine.
That is, in many cases two diametrically opposed theories
may be proposed, both of them often sounding perfectly valid
and, of course, both of them having their vehement proponents.
Think of the low-fat versus low-carb arguments that are raging
through the dietary circles of this country as an example
of how two competing theories for weight loss may, at first,
sound equally valid. In many cases only the actual testing
of each theory will show which is the right approach.
there are also two theories that at first both sound good.
Since everyone accepts the fact that it is stomach acid that
causes the problem of burning, the question is why is there
too much acid in the stomach? One answer could be that the
person is eating too much food that "tells" the
body to secrete acid. Since protein foods are what cause the
stomach cells to produce acid, the therapy is simple: stop
eating so much protein. Then the stimulus to produce acid
will be lessened, less acid will be produced and eventually
the symptoms will abate.
The competing theory
states that producing acid is a natural function of the stomach
in response to the eating of food--any food. In fact, the
acid helps the stomach and pancreatic enzymes assume their
proper form, so without stomach acid the whole digestive system
is thrown off. Stomach acid is beneficial in other ways in
that stomach acid kills the invading microorganisms that we
inevitably ingest with our food. Stomach acid thus protects
us from infections, both acute and chronic, in our GI tract.
very group of people who lacks stomach acid, that is the elderly,
is the group that most often suffers from GERD. So in this
case, the solution is not to inhibit production by eating
less protein, but rather to increase protein (and fat) consumption
so as to give the acid something to do, which is to digest
Reasoning is Correct?
A recent study
examined this very question. Much to their amazement, researchers
reported that in spite of continuing to smoke, drink coffee,
and other GERD-unfriendly habits, in each case the symptoms
of GERD were completely eliminated within one week of adopting
a very low-carbohydrate diet (about 20 grams per day). The
patients were able to stop all antacids and prescription stomach
medicines and this improvement continued even after they liberalized
their carbohydrate intake to a more tolerable 70 grams per
were unable to definitively say why this had occurred but
they postulated that the lower-carb intake influenced the
activity of various hormones that open and close the value
between the esophagus and the stomach.
By the way, this
therapy is particularly appropriate for a diabetic, for it
stabilizes the blood sugar.
To address the
question of the long term effects of taking antacid drugs,
the main problem is simply that our stomach acid is not only
necessary for protein digestion, but it protects us against
a variety of gastrointestinal infections. Long term blocking
of this acid is a very poor strategy indeed.
I have used this
low-carbohydrate approach for the treatment of GERD for many
years and with many patients. I can report that it is one
of the most effective interventions that I use. It is not
unusual for people to report relief even within a few days.
There is no longer any doubt in my mind as to which of the
above theories is correct.
Weston A. Price Foundation
What Are GMOs?
From April 19th through April 25th we launch GMO Awareness Week. We set aside an entire week dedicated to providing you with information on GMOs and labeling initiatives.
GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic makeup has been altered to induce a variety of “unique” traits to crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them “more nutrients.” GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.
Help Support GMO Labeling
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans. However, recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team test glyphosate and have labeled it a probable carcinogen.
Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back. That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.
The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.
Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.
Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More
Together, Let's Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve
Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption. That's why I'm proud to announce I will be matching donations up to $250,000 this week.
Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.