In the last decade, dark chocolate has become extremely popular, due to the fact that it is rich in iron, potassium, selenium, copper, fiber, zinc magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus.
Therefore, it became the choice number one whenever we felt like craving for something sweet when we felt anxious, depressed, frustrated, in the case of obesity and diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
And it seems that dark chocolate was perfect for almost every situation! We said almost, as it is not beneficial in the case of one condition.
Acid reflux, or heartburn and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), is a condition which leads to pain in the chest, sore throat, a burning sensation in the throat, stomach, and even mouth. It can be very uncomfortable and stressful, and the pain can ruin important evenings and dinners.
Acid reflux can be caused by excess stomach acid, as well as reduced amounts of stomach acid in the body, weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and obstruction of the upper bowels.
The LES can be weakened by the following foods:
- Fish oil (dietary and supplementary)
- Certain medications (ie. SSRI, hormonal treatments)
- Citrus fruits and juices (lemon, lime, orange, etc.)
Namely, chocolate has been found to reduce the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) pressure, and this condition is known as “Chocolate-Induced Reflux”.
The LES is the muscle which binds the esophagus to the stomach, and it opens in order to allow the food and drinks to go into the stomach and closes in order to prevent their return.
If it is weakened, it leaves the food and drinks to return back and lead to irritation. Moreover, it can also be weakened due to an intestine obstruction or even small intestinal bowel overgrowth (SIBO).
If left untreated, acid reflux can lead to a damage of the mucosal membrane, as well as cancer and ulcers. Therefore, you should always chew your food well, eat in a relaxed state, and do not consume trigger foods.
If the signs of an acid reflux are mild, you would probably not go to check the state at the doctor, and examine whether the reason is too much or too low stomach acid. However, there is a test you can perform, and you will need only one thing- apple cider vinegar.
This is how to perform it:
- Swallow a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- In the case you feel no burning sensation, the reason is hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid). In this case, you should increase the levels by subsequently adding 1 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily until you reach 6 tablespoons or a slight burning sensation occurs.
- In the case you experience no symptoms, you should maintain that dose and every day decrease it by one tablespoon unless you experience a burning sensation.
- In case you feel extreme burning and irritation after the consumption of the first tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, then you are suffering from hyperchlorhydria (excess stomach acid).
Note that you should consult your doctor and do the needed tests in order to make sure that the burning pain is not a symptom of a peptic ulcer or a heart condition.
Low Stomach Acid
- In the case of a low stomach acid, you should follow these steps:
- Always chew the food well
- After big meals, make sure you take digestive enzymes
- You should increase the intake of pineapple and papaya due to the natural bromelain and papain enzymes
- Continue dosing 1 – 6 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily in the case you do not feel any burning
- Massage the abdominal area to stimulate gastric secretions
- When you eat, take 3 deep breaths before the meal and smell your food, as the nose is the first step I digestion and it stimulates the secretion of saliva in the mouth and digestive enzyme release from the pancreas
- Deal with stress, by exercising, deep breathing techniques, meditation, walks in nature.
High Stomach Acid
In the case of a high stomach acid, you should follow these steps:
- Every day, add 1-2 teaspoons of sodium bicarbonate in a full glass of water
- You should not lie down immediately after meals
- Eat a few hours before going to sleep
- Lose weight and exercise regularly
- In order to relieve the gastric pressure and stress, regularly perform an abdominal and upper body massage
- Make sure you sleep more and your head should be a bit lifted
- When you eat, take 3 deep breaths before meals
- You should take acid suppression pharmaceutical agents (antacid calcium carbonate, Proton pump inhibitor H2-receptor antagonist, etc)
- Drink plenty of water
- Consume smaller meals and foods, like smoothies, which are easy to digest
- Manage stress, by meditation, exercise, reading books, swimming, gratitude, etc.
- Do not consume acidic foods (meat, vinegar, citrus fruits), avoid carbonated beverages and food triggers (chocolate, spicy food, tomatoes, pineapple, papaya, caffeine, alcohol, etc)and smoking for 1 week, and then again assess the intensity of discomfort
This condition can be mixed with lung conditions, peptic ulcers, musculoskeletal issues, and serious heart conditions.
Therefore, if you have noticed bleeding through the mouth or stool, chronic discomfort, or unexplained pain, you should immediately visit your doctor.
Moreover, if you have been using acid suppressing pharmaceuticals for some time now, and you would like to try some other natural alternative, you can seek help from a Naturopathic doctor.
Yet, you should never quit or start using certain medications on your won, as your body should be prepared for the elimination of medications and the introduction of the new alternative therapy.
Other included sources linked in Family Life Goals’s article:
Murphy DW, Castell DO. Chocolate and heartburn: evidence of increased esophageal acid exposure after chocolate ingestion. Am J Gastroenterol. 1988 Jun;83(6):633-6. [link]
Wright LE, Castell DO. The adverse effect of chocolate on lower esophageal sphincter pressure. Am J Dig Dis. 1975 Aug;20(8):703-7. [link]
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