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Know The Truth Of Apple Cider Vinegar & Heartburn

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Overview 

Hello Health Champions. A lot of people are taking apple cider vinegar to help with weight loss and insulin resistance, but is it okay to take it if you have things like heartburn or GERD? Today I want to make sure we get that totally cleared up. It is coming right up.

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GERD – Apple Cider Vinegar & Heartburn

GERD is an acronym for Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease, and if you look it up, you’ll probably see something like the following.

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acid enters the esophagus - Know The Truth Between Apple Cider Vinegar & Heartburn
Acid enters the esophagus

Number one – It’s when acid enters the esophagus. So the esophagus is your food pipe. It’s where the food comes down when you swallow into the stomach, and if acid is in the stomach and it flows back into the esophagus, then that can cause heartburn. That is correct.

lower esophageal sphincter
LES or the lower esophageal sphincter

The second thing you’ll probably hear is that the LES or the lower esophageal sphincter, which is a little muscle right here(as shown in the above picture), if it’s not closing, then that allows the backflow of this acid. And that is also correct.

The third thing you probably hear is that it’s because there is too much acid in the stomach. And that is just not correct because most people don’t have enough acid. 

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There is something called hypochlorhydria, which simply means – Not enough hydrochloric acid, and that is extremely common.

Stomach PH

Stomach PH - Know The Truth Between Apple Cider Vinegar & Heartburn
0-6 Acidic | 7 Neutral | 8-14 Alkaline

Your stomach is supposed to contain or produce something called hydrochloric acid, which puts its pH at a very low level. So if the pH is between 1 and 3, which it’s supposed to be in the stomach, that puts it right down here at the bottom of the scale(as shown in the above picture). It’s right above battery acid, and this is because the acid is there to help you digest protein.

It’s there to kill pathogens. A lot of pathogens will enter through your digestive tract, and if you have a high enough level of acid, that will kill them off.

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It’s also there to help you absorb minerals and some vitamins like B-12 that can only be absorbed appropriately in an acidic environment. So if you don’t make enough acid, then this stuff isn’t going to work.

Normal Acid – Apple Cider Vinegar & Heartburn

Now, if you have a normal amount of stomach acid, this is what’s supposed to happen. Your pH stays between 1 and 3. And this low pH; it signals to the body to close the lower esophageal sphincter to prevent the backflow.

Then you’re going to digest protein in a timely fashion. You’re going to have mucus to protect the stomach. The stomach produces mucus that acts like a barrier against the acid. And then, if everything is working, the food, the protein is going to move on through to the small intestine after about two to four hours. In the ideal scenario, everything works.

But here’s what happens when you have hypochlorhydria – when you don’t have enough.  

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Hypochlorhydria – Apple Cider Vinegar & Heartburn

Now your pH is going to be much higher, somewhere between four and six. And now, this is not going to provide the proper signals to close that lower esophageal sphincter, so it might remain partially open.

You’re also going to have a slow and incomplete digestion. It’s not going to happen in a timely fashion. The food is going to be in the stomach much, much longer, and this is going to allow the stomach content to reflux – gastroesophageal reflux disease.

This is also going to severely irritate the esophagus because the stomach has this mucus on the lining, but the esophagus doesn’t have any of that.

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So that’s why the esophagus gets very, very irritated when it gets acid. Now you experience the symptoms of heartburn or GERD.

Now, if this goes on for some time, you can develop something called Barrett’s esophagus. So they send down a little scope and take pictures, and now they see that these cells lining the esophagus don’t look like normal healthy esophageal cells anymore. They’re starting to change.

At first, when they change, it’s called metaplasia – changing growth. And if this goes on for a really long time, then they change into something bad called dysplasia, which can eventually lead to cancer.

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Symptoms of Hypochlorhydria

Now you must be thinking, what are the symptoms of hypochlorhydria? Of not having enough acid. Well, interestingly, the first one is heartburn. The sensation of too much acid is because you don’t have enough.

Another thing that can happen quite a bit is that you just don’t have any appetite for meat. Your body is very intelligent, so if you can’t produce enough stomach acid to break down meat, your body is going to tell you don’t eat it because it’s going to cause problems if you can’t break it down.

Gas and bloating irritable bowel syndrome again if you can’t digest the food properly in the early stages, it’s going to cause problems down the road.

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Thin hair and nails are all made from proteins, so if you’re not breaking down food and utilizing protein, you can’t make the tissues you want.

Leaky gut is very, very common, and as a result, you often have food sensitivities, and you can also start developing autoimmunity.

In women, it’s very common to have hair loss associated with it, and in general, you’re going to find multiple nutritional deficiencies. If you can’t break down food, you can’t absorb all your proteins, amino acids, iron, minerals, vitamins, etc.

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Are There Any Conditions? – Apple Cider Vinegar & Heartburn

On top of the symptoms, there are some conditions associated with this. The lupus systemic lupus erythematosus, which is an autoimmune condition, can happen.  

Thyroid issues, most of which are autoimmune, like Hashimoto’s.

Psoriasis which is not just a skin condition. It’s arthritis, inflammatory arthritis. It’s also an autoimmune condition.  

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You can have lots of allergies, asthma, eczema, gastritis, osteoporosis because bones are mostly protein. And you can also have pernicious anemia because you need that stomach acid to absorb B-12 and make blood cells.

Causes of Hypochlorhydria

So what causes hypochlorhydria? Why doesn’t the body make this? Well, hypothyroid when the thyroid slows down. Everything slows down, including the production of hydrochloric acid.

You can also have a stomach bug called h pylori (helicobacter pylori), which is a nasty bug that gives you ulcers but also convert some of your acids into a base, so it basically wrecks your stomach acid.

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You could also have taken too many antacids, and this is what we’re going to see in every store. There are just yards and yards of antacids because people have so many of these problems, and then they think that if I just take an antacid, I solve the problem.  

No, you calm down the symptom temporarily, but by taking that antacid, you’re setting yourself up for all of the problems all the conditions that we talked about in the previous part.

Causes of Hypochlorhydria – Stress

Stress is one of the most common causes. Stress causes everything. Have you ever noticed? Well, it’s because with stress, your body shifts. You have your fight-flight system and your feed breed system that is your digestive system.

So when you’re in a fight-flight mode, whether you’re running from a lion or you’re just worrying about the bills or the last rude person that you should have told off in a certain way. Either way, it’s stressful whether it’s real or imagined danger. 

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And your body is focusing all its resources on the outside, and when it does that, it turns off everything to do with digestion, and that’s why stress is associated with all digestive issues.

Age

There is also a strong association between increasing age and a lowered production of hydrochloric acid. That’s just because most people, as they age they degenerate. That doesn’t mean that age has to cause hypochlorhydria. If you stay healthy, if you maintain your body, remember to use it or lose it, then you can still reach a quite advanced age and not be degenerated.

Unfortunately, once you have one or more of these, they tend to feed each other in a vicious cycle, and that’s what makes this problem kind of tough to get out of sometimes.

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So now that you’re starting to understand more about how the stomach and the digestive system works, you can see how apple cider vinegar could actually be beneficial. 

How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help in Heartburn?

Its pH is 2.5. So it’s right in that range of what the stomach needs to be when you’re digesting protein. And even though it seems counterintuitive to some people that it feels like you have too much acid, why would you add more? It actually works if you understand what we just talked about.  

So apple cider vinegar adds natural acid to the system, and it helps improve the signaling to close that lower esophageal sphincter to prevent the backflow. It also helps your digestion overall.  

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Is It Safe To Take Apple Cider Vinegar If You Already Have Heartburn?

Now, what about taking apple cider vinegar if you already have GERD or heartburn. Well, it is quite safe, and most people are going to find that it improves GERD. It’s going to go away, or it’s going to diminish significantly.

Now, if you already have some irritation, if you have an ulcer, or you have gastritis, if it’s just really raw and irritated, then you may notice that it feels a little worse if you take that apple cider vinegar. 

That just means you’re not quite ready for it yet, so you need to start with some soothing digestive enzymes. You need to take some digestive aids that do not have the acid component in it, and then later, when your digestion improves, then you could try again.

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Always remember that you don’t want to treat the symptom. You want to address the root cause. Want to heal the body. You want to reduce stress. Then you have to give your body the proper nutrients.

Now I understand if you have an extreme case of heartburn that you probably want to take some antacids, you might want to take some Tums. But realize that it’s not a solution. It will cover up the symptoms. Still, want to take antacids? We have linked the best antacids for you. Make sure you give it a try!

If you keep using it, it will set you up for that vicious cycle and make it harder and harder for your body to function. So always address the root cause.  

I hope now you know should you be taking apple cider vinegar for heartburn or not. Well, that’s it for this article. If you wish to receive future articles, subscribe from the below box! Thank You!

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Aman Pawar
Aman Pawar is Certified Diet and Nutrition Expert. Also he is Certified Fitness Trainer. He also writes on Quora and his answers has generated more than 15k plus views in less than 6 months! For more info visit About Us page.
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