According to an internet article I read, GERD (or gastroesophageal reflux disease (years ago it was simply referred to as heartburn)) affects 44% of adult Americans at least one time a month. This statistic seems realistic to me based on the number of hands I see in the air at my lectures when I ask people in the audience to raise their hand if they suffer from GERD, acid reflux or heartburn.
The amount of money spent on prescriptions and over the counter medications to get relief from GERD is staggering. The number of ads seen on TV for these products is also amazing. This represents big money for the advertising and drug industries.
Common over the counter products include: Tums, Pepto Bismol, and the myriad other antacids both tablet and liquid, as well as simple enzymes from pineapple (bromelain) and other sources. Popular prescription drugs for GERD include: Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium, Tagamet (although, I think this one was so commonly used it is now over the counter), Zantac and Pepcid.
As with any chronic irritation, ongoing problems with GERD, acid reflux, indigestion or heartburn can lead to serious health issues, including cancer.
Long, long ago on a distant planet far, far away before I became raw I suffered terribly from GERD, which at the time was called heartburn or acid reflux. The pain was at times so awful that my doctor actually sent me home with an aerosol can of benzocaine… or was it was novocaine, maybe? Either way, it was a spray can that could be sprayed directly down my throat to relieve the pain. I had just put the can in the trunk of my car, when there and then I decided I had to do something else – this was definitely the wrong track I was on.
I was 44 years old. I never used that can. Instead, I began my journey into raw food.
If you suffer from GERD, acid reflux or heartburn, or if you know someone who suffers from GERD(particularly if they are a SAD* eater), please listen up – because for many people with this problem there is a simple solution.
(*Standard American Diet)
CAVEAT: I am not a Doctor. I am sure that there are people for whom this solution will not work. I am sure there are people that really truly need the drugs I listed. I speak from personal experience not only as a long term raw fooder, and this can work for non-raw fooders as well, but also as someone who understands the theories of food combining. (Please refer to the extensive food combining charts in my book The Raw Gourmet.)
Please consult with your medical personnel prior to trying out my suggestions to end GERD forever. In no way should this be construed as medical advice because I am in no way qualified to give medical advice. I never went to medical school, I never went to nursing school, and heck – in truth I am a complete idiot about all things medical. This is simply advice on how to eat your everyday food in a way that has helped me, as well as the many hundreds of people who have told me it has helped them.
If you are currently taking medication for GERD please do not stop taking your medication without consulting with your Doctor. If you should choose, while still taking your prescription medication, to try out the dietary advice I am about to give. That is entirely up to you. Again, let me repeat so there can be no misunderstanding here: It is always best to consult with your physician before making any type of change.
Some non-medical solution(s) to ending GERD, heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion:
Reducing acid helps many but not all GERD sufferers. Eating a balanced, high variety diet of all or mostly raw foods is an alkalizing diet and that alone can help many people.
The rest of the story is about food combining. If you are not a raw fooder, never plan to be a raw fooder, or know someone who is not a raw fooder and never plans to be a raw fooder, but suffers from GERD, try food combining. This means no longer eating your meals the way your momma served them. …Why?
Protein and carbohydrate (starch) need very different amounts of time to digest as well as completely different types of enzymes to digest them. So when you eat steak and potato at the same time, your digestive tract has a huge conflict. Nothing actually digests properly or well, leading to… you guessed it: GERD, acid reflux, heartburn, indigestion, and incomplete digestion possibly including or contributing to what some people refer to as leaky gut syndrome. (Please refer to the appendix in my book, The Raw Gourmet for complete food combining rules and information including lists of food, and amount of time they take to digest.)
The possible fix for the Standard American Diet eater or the predominantly cooked and processed food eater (I will get to this info for the raw food eater further on):
Look at your typical plate of food. What is traditionally on it?
Let’s call it “The Big Three of the Dinner Plate”:
- Protein – such as steak, chicken, hamburger, tuna etc.
- Starch (AKA carbohydrate) – like mashed potatoes, rice, French fries, pasta, etc. This category also includes bread.
- Vegetables – such as carrots, green beans, asparagus, etc. This includes salad.
When I was growing up (and I think it’s still true in many homes today), all “Responsible Mothers” in their right mind served “The Big Three of the Dinner Plate”: Meat, veggies, starch.
Do you want to feel better? Forget about the way Momma served you your meal!
Instead, eat like this… Let’s call it “The Delicious Duet of the Lunch and Dinner Plate”:
Choice One: Steak, chicken, lamb etc with vegetables including salad. NO Bread, NO potato, NO rice.
At a completely different meal separated by at least four hours try this:
Choice Two: A starch such as rice, potato, baked yam or pasta along with veggies including salad.
No longer “The Big Three of The Dinner Plate,” now you are consuming “The Delicious Duet of The Lunch and Dinner Plate.”
…and yes friend, you are going to have to learn what a protein is and what a carbohydrate is so you can make this work.
Note to Raw Fooders: You can help your friends and relatives suffering from digestive problems with this information more than with just about any other information. Once they try it and feel better.. well just maybe they might listen to you about something else!
Examples of proper food combining in meal to avoid acid reflux:
- Eggs, bacon, sliced tomato, fruit (No toast, No potato)
- Veggie, cheese and or meat omelet, sliced tomato or fruit salad
(No bread, No potato)
- Waffles, pancakes, or fruit salad or sliced tomatoes
(No meat, no cheese) Since fruit is a complex carb and not a simple carb it might be Ok … If not, then eat veggies with this combination:
- Steak (or pork, hamburger, chicken, etc.) with large salad and non-starchy vegetable like asparagus, green beans, okra, summer squash, cabbage, etc (No rice, No potato, No bread)
- Rice, or potato dish, or yams, or pasta, bread and large salad and any type of cooked vegetable (No meat, no cheese)
- Pasta with tomato sauce and a large salad, with bread. (No meat, No Cheese)
To put it another way:
* Eat your meat with your veggies.
* Eat your starches with your veggies.
…But never eat your meat with your starches.
Meat + Veggies = Yes | Starch + Veggies = Yes | Meat + Starches = No
Another hint: Eat your main protein meal for lunch as it takes longest for protein to digest. Then eat the main starch (i.e. carbohydrate) meal for dinner. Doing so will help you to sleep better later at night.
Two more hints: Try not to dilute your food with liquid. Drink between meals not during them. Digestive enzymes are helpful as well, especially taken with heavy meals.
If you eat meat or protein at each and every meal like many Americans do (eggs for breakfast, tuna for lunch, hamburger for dinner), in order for this approach to work you will have to give up at least one meal a day with high protein.
Also, a hamburger at McDonalds is now a no-no. You could eat the meat only plus some veggies… or you could eat the bun only plus veggies… or you could even eat the bun and the French fries. (These are very graphic examples, but it should help you to remember. This info is important for GERD suffering SAD eaters. Don’t we all know one?) Nowadays you can order your burger wrapped in lettuce. But if you do this, say “No” to French fries, though.
A Raw Food combining approach:
I don’t personally know any raw fooders that suffer from GERD. Also, it has become apparent that food combining principles are less important when eating all raw. This is probably due to the many enzymes available or when the body adjusts to all raw or high raw, and the relative ease of digesting raw rather than cooked, processed foods.
However it is still a good idea to keep protein and starch separate and most raw fooders try to keep fruits and vegetables separate when practical. Don’t forget, if it has a seed or seeds, it’s a fruit, so cucumber, zucchini, squashes, tomatoes etc. are all fruits when you are figuring things out for your meals.