My 6 year Journey
If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the many Americans who experience acid reflux occasionally or very often. For me, it was very often. I hope this post will give you some ideas into curing/lessening acid-reflux in your life.
It started 8 years ago when I was 15. I had just started dating my first boyfriend and it seemed like butterflies were constantly in my stomach…and then it started feeling like butterflies with wings made of razors.I lost my appetite most days, and was very weak.
Over the next year, I went to the doctor often and was told that I had an over-production of acid in my stomach. I was prescribed many common acid reflux medications, but all of the medicines made me feel worse. I experienced daily fatigue that kept me from doing much more than sitting on the couch. By the time I was 16, I realized that the relationship I was in was very stressful and that I always felt emotionally pressured. I broke up with my boyfriend, and within months of spending time with good friends who relaxed me, my razor-wing butterflies seemed to have departed.
Fast forward to my first year of college 3 years later, and they came back. But, this time, I had more trouble eating than ever before. It didn’t help that my schedule was so full that I often skipped meals. I knew my doctor couldn’t help me so I thought I’d have to live with it.
The following summer, I got a job as a bank teller and had more pressure at that job than any I had ever had before. I lost my appetite for weeks at a time, and was always tired. I didn’t understand what was happening to my body so I tried to eat larger quantities of food—I reasoned that more food would occupy the acid in my stomach so I wouldn’t feel it anymore. I soon realized the practice wasn’t decreasing my acid production. I was constantly nauseous for about 6 months because it caused even more acid than I had before. After reading dozens of articles on digestive processes, I learned that I had damaged my sphincter—a valve at the top of the stomach that opens for food once it is swallowed and then closes to continue the digestion process.
Once I learned that overeating was further damaging a part of my stomach, I stopped and looked to other methods. My stomach was damaged and sensitive to food (….and drinks…and anxiety). I knew that traditional medicine had never provided answers to anything I had experienced, so I prayed that God would give me the resources to discover for myself how to cure my condition. Which, by the way, my grandmother had suffered from her entire life without ever finding a cure. I had been advised by a pharmacist to use Prilosec daily for a month at minimum until my acid calmed down, but my mother had warned me that long term use is dangerous. I then decided to tough it out (against all professional medical advice I had been given) and set out on a quest to find a permanent fix without any crutch.
Within the next few months, I discovered fermented foods and the Paleo diet. I began with Paleo, but moved towards vegan and vegetarian eating since then.
One of the first fermented things I tried was Kefir: a cousin of yogurt, but with many more live and active cultures. Cultures influence your entire digestive system (and even genital health). Kefir quickly had a calming effect on my stomach lining and my sphincter. I began putting a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vingar in my water once a day (for it’s digestive enzyme boost) and I soon realized it was helping with my digestion. I reasoned that if I helped my digestive system, my stomach would have a break from having to produce acid for me.
Next, I read a book about an anti-inflammatory diet—basically, gluten free and reduced sugar- by a prominent doctor. I knew that my stomach lining often felt inflamed from acid and I desperately wanted that to be over. So I made adjustments to work my diet around a Paleo base. It quickly became easier for me to eat without nausea. I switched from a breakfast of processed grains to eggs with sauteed veggies and a little ham, lunch became a burrito bowl from Chipotle instead of a Wendy’s burger, and dinner was usually oatmeal and kefir instead of pasta.
I experienced significant improvements, but my job at the bank made me so anxious that I backtracked about once a week and felt the burning sensation of acid again. One day, I was helping a customer who mentioned that a good friend of his was an executive of another local bank—and that his friend suffered from terrible ulcers. That opened my eyes to realize that some people—with anxiety problems such as myself—couldn’t keep plodding along in a stressful job. I was soon blessed with a job offer from a kind elderly accountant who needed someone to do data entry and general office organizing. I jumped at the chance. After 4 months in the quiet back room working my accounting job, my stomach felt normal.
Instead of feeling tinges of pain and burning several times a week, I felt like I could take a deep breath without expecting pain. Up until that point, breathing was very painful if I moved my stomach.
Today, it has been two and a half years since I implemented these changes, and I have not experienced a regression. I still get acid-related discomfort in my stomach if I am anxious or eat very greasy food, but my sphincter is no longer damaged so the pain doesn’t last.
The most important thing I have learned is:
The problem was not my body, it was the food I was putting into it and the situations I put myself into.
What my life looks like now:
I am married to a good man who is my best friend and who relaxes me. I am either freelancing or working a temporary low-stress job. I eat holistically—beans, whole grains, veggies, nuts—and drink a glass of kombucha, switchel, or kefir most days. I still get anxious, but I don’t have the repercussions that I did before. I try to give my worries to God instead of taking the weight myself. I haven’t taken a Prilosec in 2.5 years 🙂 Sadly, I know many people who take Prilosec most days and never get a real cure.
I hope that my story has been helpful to you.
In the words of the Father of Medicine,”Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”~Hippocrates
**I am not a medical professional and do not claim to be. This article does not issue medical advice or make any medical-relate claims, but rather simply states my personal experience and perspective on what worked for me**