One of the happy side effects of going primal and eliminating grains from my diet was the realization that doing so eliminated heartburn and/or acid reflux from my life. Amazingly, it took me two months of being primal to recognize that my heartburn was gone...strange, isn't it?
A little background. I'd never had heartburn before my pregnancy with Buttercup twelve years ago. All those Tums commercials? I didn't have a clue. That pregnancy, however, clued me in quickly. Sleeping in chairs because I couldn't manage to stack pillows high enough. Having a sour stomach that just wouldn't stop and having no idea why. It was horrible. It stopped for a while after she was born, and then seemed to get worse each year. By last year, I was miserable.
I started sharing my discomfort with friends and discovered relief with the Zantac a friend recommended. Unfortunately, the relief was short-lived. It seemed like no matter how much Zantac I took (and I frequently exceeded the recommended dose), the heartburn was there...waiting.
Not only was I getting only partial relief from Zantac, but there was no way I could see myself taking some pill for the next 40 years to solve something that had to be caused by some change I hadn't clued into...something had to have changed, I just needed to figure out what.
I knew it wasn't stress, because I got it all the time, even when I wasn't stressed. It was just so annoying. Nothing I did seemed to work. I was feeling really helpless about the entire situation, plus I was feeling dependent upon a pill for any kind of physical ease...and I really don't like feeling helpless and dependent. Really, really don't.
So, I did some research and discovered the seldom heard theory that, contrary to popular belief, acid reflux is not caused by too much acid in the stomach but rather by not enough acid. On some level, this made sense to me. The theory suggested that adding acid, such as Apple Cider Vinegar, to the stomach when you have a flare up would relieve the symptoms. I was desperate, so I tried it. (I really couldn't imagine it making me feel worse than I already felt.) It tasted vile (to me), but it worked...immediately! Crazy, isn't it? A tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar did the trick every time. Every single time. It worked like magic. I can't say I was thrilled to be swigging the stuff...it worked, though, so I moved on.
Shortly after, I discovered primal eating and, two months after that, I realized I wasn't swigging Apple Cider Vinegar anymore. How cool is that? Let's recap: a way of eating that makes me look better, feel better, sleep better, and takes away my heartburn? Oh, happy day!
Now I am wondering if my mom, who has had stomach issues for as long as I can remember, actually suffers from an intolerance to wheat and other grain? I suspect she does...even more, I suspect I passed that intolerance along to my children. No, we don't have Celiac's Disease, but I will tell you that my 15-year old son reports digestive issues if he eats grains (think about that for a second...issues enough to make a 15-year old boy take notice must be significant). Oh, and did I mention that removing dairy and grains made his "teenaged" acne disappear, only to reappear if he falls off the wagon? Crazy, isn't it? As long as Valiant stays away from dairy and wheat, his skin is beautifully clear.
Anyway, there was a terrific article about GERD/Acid Reflux/Heartburn on Mark's Daily Apple yesterday (which inspired me to share my own experiences with you). Even if you're not interested in grain-free living, the article is a really comprehensive explanation about GERD, its symptoms, causes, and some natural remedies. If you are at all interested in the topic for yourself or someone you care about, I urge you to head over to MDA and read it. I always enjoy reading the comments that follow his articles...the anecdotal evidence of his readers is inspiring.
As for me, I'll just stick to primal living...it has been a win-win all around.
P.S. Primal eating is a diet without grains, legumes, and dairy. You eat meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and good fats. I wrote primarily about grains and grain-free living because I really didn't do dairy and legumes before, so I know for me, that the grains were the culprit and their elimination the key.