GERD: Treating a Symptom, Not the Problem

After struggling with GERD (gastroesophageal acid reflux disease) for more than a decade, it took a surprise discovery and change of perspective for me to cure myself of it.

Diagnosed with GERD

Back in the late 90′s I began experiencing recurring sore throats and fevers, coupled with congestion. I saw my primary care physician about it and each time he prescribed an antibiotic, which fixed things only until a week after the antibiotic ran out.

After a few of these cycles, I saw an ear, nose, and throat specialist who quickly diagnosed my problem as GERD (gastroesophageal acid reflux disease). He referred me to a gastroenterologist who prescribed a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), the most common type of acid reducer prescribed today. (PPI’s have been around since 1989 in the U.S. and according to Nature Reviews: Drug Discovery, PPI’s were a $13.5 billion U.S. industry back in 2003). PPI’s stop acid reflux by reducing the stomach’s output of acid by over 90%.

The PPI worked wonders. It wasn’t long before I was free of sore throat symptoms. I followed my doctor’s accompanying advice to elevate the head of my bed and avoid foods that triggered my reflux symptoms, which in my case included carbonated drinks, chocolate, and greasy foods.

Catch the Rebound!

After a couple weeks of PPIs and avoiding my trigger foods, I felt like I had a handle on the problem and tried stopping the medication.

Wow, was that a mistake!

My reflux symptoms returned with a vengeance. Before the PPI, I rarely felt the refluxing occur—the first indication of a problem was typically a sore throat. Now, however, stopping the PPI resulted in unabashed refluxing. Nasty, throat burning, gagging refluxing. My doctor was right: I have GERD.

I couldn’t get back on the PPI fast enough and feel the blessed relief that it brought.

Still, I didn’t want to take the PPI (or any medication) forever. For one, it was pretty pricey and also, I have trouble believing that any medication that affects the body this dramatically is completely safe if taken for the rest of one’s life.

So after a few months I tried stopping again. Same result. Horrible rebound acid reflux.

I even tore open a bunch of my PPI capsules, poured the contents into a dish, and used an analytical balance (an analytical balance is a scale capable of measuring to the ten thousandth or one hundred thousandth of a gram) to make a series of decreasingly strong capsules by carefully refilling new, empty gel caps. My thought was that I could taper off from my current dose to zero over a period of sixty days or so and maybe I wouldn’t experience the rebound effect.

Nice try, but no dice.

Repeat this process numerous times over the ensuing years (except for the painfully time consuming analytical balance part) and I realized that proton pump inhibitors are only slightly less addicting than crack.

I recently read a study from 2009 confirming my experience with rebounding. According to the study, stopping PPI’s causes rebound symptoms of even greater acid reflux. (Big surprise there.) What’s also not surprising is that it took a group of independent researchers, not the pharmaceutical companies developing this stuff, to confirm this fact in a double-blind, placebo controlled study. (I’m sure that the pharmaceutical companies creating PPI’s innocently failed to notice this effect during their extensive development efforts.)

Is the PPI Part of the Problem?

The more I learned about the problem, the more I came to believe that the proton pump inhibitor was contributing to the very problem it was marketed to solve. After all, how does reducing stomach acid production by 90% or more, thereby causing undigested food to slosh around in the stomach for hours, help prevent reflux? It seemed that the better thing to do would be to quickly and effectively digest the food, not leave it undigested and festering as it passes from start to finish. (There were times that I could still feel food that I had eaten 8 or 9 hours previously, still sloshing around in my stomach and refluxing into my throat. Ick.)

Moreover, a warning from the FDA that PPI’s are harmful to bone formation in individuals taking them for more than one year only reinforced my desire to quit.

I was also concerned that by having only a fraction of the normal acid levels in my stomach, I would be more susceptible to food poisoning.

It was clear that the PPI’s just had to go.

How Did That Happen?

When I was just starting to believe that a PPI would be part of my life forever, despite my increased desire to quit, I cured my GERD entirely by accident.

I stopped eating wheat.

Compelled by the blog postings of cardiologist Dr. William Davis and fueled by a desire to lower my postprandial (after eating) blood glucose levels, I gave up wheat in Spring 2010. I never expected that it would have any effect on my acid reflux, but it did. (I have since read Dr. Davis’ book Wheat Belly in which he cites hundreds of patients who told him that they were surprised to find themselves cured of GERD by eliminating wheat for other reasons.)

Within a couple of weeks of eliminating wheat, my reflux symptoms had abated considerably. They weren’t completely gone but they were better than they had ever been since starting on the PPI’s.

Focusing on the Problem, Not the Symptom

I immediately began investigating why eliminating wheat would produce such dramatic relief to my GERD symptoms and very shortly thereafter I realized the mistake I had been making for so many years:

Instead of focusing on the problem, I had been fixating on the symptom. I had been trying to identify which foods were a trigger instead of what foods were causing the underlying condition.

You see, GERD is not a disease. GERD is a symptom of a greater problem and treating the reflux without treating the underlying problem only results in a lifetime of taking PPI’s.

The problem that causes GERD is the disruption of the body’s healthy digestive process. The first disruption is the reduction of stomach acid, the very thing that the treatment for GERD does. Yes, blocking 90% of stomach acid production results in less reflux, but it also ensures that the food one consumes lays undigested in the stomach for far longer than it would if normal acid levels were present.

The next broken link in the digestive chain is the gut flora, the bacteria resident in the digestive tract. A healthy gut flora is vital to effective digestion. Unfortunately, our digestive tract is very much a battlefield, with helpful bacteria and harmful bacteria constantly fighting for dominance. In a person with healthy gut flora, the unhealthy bacteria is held to minimal levels whereas someone who has disrupted their gut flora with frequent doses of antibiotics and who have eaten grains (especially highly refined grains) and sugar, has produced an environment conducive to unhealthy gut flora.

What this meant for me is that if I wanted to continue being free of GERD, without taking a PPI, I had to restore my digestive health as thoroughly as possible.

Making Changes

I began with the writings of Drs. Michael and Mary Eades in The Protein Power Lifeplan, a book that caught my attention while I was reading the blog postings of cardiologist Dr. William Davis, by whom I had been inspired to try eliminating wheat from my diet. The Drs. Eades recommended restoring one’s gut flora by fasting for two or three days, subsisting only on a high quality protein powder, supplemented with glutamine. Glutamine, they advised, was an effective food source for healthy gut flora but unhealthy gut bacteria was unable to use it as an energy source. By limiting one’s diet in this way for a few days, one could conceivably shift the intestinal landscape dramatically in favor of healthy bacteria.

I followed their advice for three days and then returned to a diet devoid of any grains or refined sugar, supplemented with a high quality probiotic. The results were dramatic. My remaining reflux symptoms were gone. I felt truly GERD-free for the first time in over a decade.

The following week was a joy, punctuated occasionally by annoying flare-up as my long dormant acid production mechanism began working again. My continued research indicated that I could help eliminate the occasional GERD flare-ups by chewing a DGL (deglycyrrhizinated liquorice) prior to meals that might contain trigger foods or prior to especially large meals. (Glycyrrhizin is known to cause negative side effects, including fluid retention and high blood pressure, so it’s removed when licorice is used as an herbal supplement.)

After about a week or ten days of intermittent fasting when flare-ups were threatening, coupled with careful eating, it seemed that my stomach had finally settled down and was producing acid normally.

It’s been more than eighteen months since I stopped taking my PPI and my GERD symptoms are still gone. The once or twice that I’ve fallen off of the “wheat-free” wagon, my GERD returned aggressively for about eight to twelve hours each time, reinforcing my belief that wheat is a primary culprit.

It’s easy to blame the pharmaceutical companies for exploiting this malady by labeling it GERD, treating a symptom as though it were a disease, and raking in billions of dollars, but we consumers are part of the problem, too, by seeking the quick fix of a daily pill instead of pursuing the root causes of GERD and making meaningful lifestyle changes to truly solve the problem.

What I Learned

  • GERD is not a disease. GERD is a symptom of a greatly disrupted digestive system. Healing the digestive system will stop the GERD.
  • Grains, especially wheat, are a significant cause of a disrupted digestive system.
  • Processed sugar and starches are, too.
  • Don’t confuse a root cause with a trigger food. A food can cause the underlying digestive disruption without being a specific trigger for reflux (e.g., processed sugar) or a food can be a trigger without being a root cause (e.g., chocolate was a trigger when I had GERD but is not a problem now). Moreover, trigger foods can vary from person to person.

If you want more information, Chris Kresser, the creator of The Healthy Skeptic has written an excellent, more technical, piece on the root causes of GERD.

131 thoughts on “GERD: Treating a Symptom, Not the Problem

  1. Rocky – This is fantastic information! I have been suffering with GERD for years and have been trying to stop the PPI merry-go-round. I’ll read Wheat Belly, The Protein Power Lifeplan and The Healthy Skeptic now! Quickly followed by Don’t Die Early!

    • I’m so glad to hear it! I know as well as anyone that it’s much easier to just take a pill each day but taking the time to solve the root causes of GERD is really worth it.

  2. It is so refreshing and encouraging to hear the truth spoken about the cause of the problem of GERD instead of the usual approach of just treating the symptoms, which then causes even more problems!
    Preach on!

    • Thank you! It’s unfortunate that GERD isn’t alone in its management. Far too many maladies are treated as symptoms instead of problems. A number of physicians have told me that their medical school training has very little, if anything, to do with prevention. Instead, medical school focuses on identifying disease conditions and choosing which FDA-approved medication or treatment one brings to bear. And training on nutrition? Forget about it. One physician told me that his entire exposure to nutrition while in medical school was a three-day lunch and learn.

  3. Rocky,
    YES! Your story is my story. I have been suffering with GERD for almost a year. I was on a PPI for several months before I took myself off of it for the same reasons that you indicated. And it frustrates me that the GI Doctor’s prescribe it like candy and expect for you to take it for the rest of your life. And they make no attempt to determine the cause of the symptoms. I am also using the DGL Licorice and some Probiotics and Enzymes. But most importantly I have fasted from Gluten and Dairy. I believe that it is working. (However, I have been accidentally “glutened” which causes confusion because I feel the symptoms but can’t pinpoint what I ate. It usually happens after eating at a restaurant that was supposedly Gluten Free.) But now I have to slowly add those items back into my diet to determine if they are truly the culprit. I have been tested for Celiac but it came back negative. (Both blood and biopsy.) However, I still believe that you can have a Gluten Intolerance without having full blown Celiac. Thanks again for your encouraging blog & book. I will read both.

    • Thank you for your comments! I found the DGL to be very helpful (especially after I discovered the German Chocolate version!). Probiotics and digestive enzymes are a great help, too. During the period when I was weaning myself off of the PPIs, if I had flare-ups and nothing seemed to help, I just fasted for 24 or 48 hours until things settled down. That helped, too. (Not all people can fast that easily, though, especially if they’ve been eating small, frequent, grain-laden meals like so many people do.)

      I have read concerns that excessive and long-term use of DGL isn’t advised in some people. This seems to have something to do with DGL helping the body to more effectively use cortisol, which has an effect similar to slightly increasing cortisol levels. For those with low cortisol levels, a DGL early in the day may be a beneficial thing. For those battling excessively high cortisol, however, prolonged use of DGL may not be ideal.

      In his book “Wheat Belly,” the cardiologist Dr. William Davis speaks in great detail about what he’s referring to as “antibody-negative celiac disease,” in which people have Celiac disease symptoms without any of the traditional antibody tests showing positive. One reason for this, he speculates, is that tradition antibody tests only check for antibodies to fewer than 0.1% of the more than 1,000 proteins in today’s wheat gluten! Unfortunately, “accepted clinical guidelines” will cause physicians to dismiss any thought of gluten sensitivity once you’ve tested negative to the very limited standardized tests.

      As Wheat Belly argues quite well, we all have gluten intolerance. It’s only a percentage of us that manifest in such a way that today’s diagnosis tools will detect.

      As Davis points out, today’s wheat is not the wheat of 50 of 100 years ago. It’s been hybridized, back-breeded, and cross-breeded, so many times that it is genetically an entirely different entity than what used to be called wheat in past decades. It’s this onslaught of foreign proteins that are causing a frightening array of gluten-mediated disorders today.

      I’ve never been happier that our household went wheat-free two years ago.

      (Oh, and by the way, don’t believe that the “gluten-free” products, aimed at capitalizing on the increasing anti-gluten awareness, are our friends, either. They’re little more than dangerously high-glycemic starches that are way worse for us than processed sugar.)

      Take a look at and see Davis’ comments about wheat if you’re interested in learning more.

  4. I have been wheat free for about 3 weeks. During that time my GERD has been completely alleviated. I have also lost 15 pounds, my acute cough is gone and my nasal congestion has completely disappeared.

  5. Since I last updated by status on 1/21/13, I am still wheat free I have lost another 13 pounds and my health continues to improve. The acid reflux is completely gone. I have gone from consuming 25-30 antacids tablets per day to 1-2 per week if that!

    I know longer feel bloated after eating. My appetite is under control and I estimated that I have cut 500-600 useless calories from my diet per day.

    I am exercising 3-4 times per week (weightlifting, walking, light jogs, stretching). My blood pressure is down to 125/85 which is good for me.

    Overall I feel better than I have in years.

    Cedric Parish
    Brown Deer

    • Congratulations! I’m continually amazed at the results I hear from people who have changed their diet. It’s unfortunate that so many people are still being misled into thinking that proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole and antacid tablets are their only hope against acid reflux.

  6. I’m so glad I came across this. I have been suffering from progressive GERD for the past five years. I was very ill at the time with so many varying symptoms and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. In the end they put it down to an infection of some sort, and after antibiotic after antibiotic was left with cornice gastritis and acid reflux. It took me four years to discover that gluten was the main trigger for the nausea and the gnawing, burning feelings I was getting in my stomach and intestines. However, even after cutting out gluten, I found other things became triggers, especially chocolate, other sugar-laden foods and fatty foods. I tried to cut these out but found it hard. I had a very bad throat and nasal infection in december 2012, during which I stupidly took ibuprofen tablets because I was in so much pain and my throat was so swollen. It was from this point that things went downhill. Lots of acid reflux, excessive burping every time I ate, tightness around the diaphragm within minutes of eating, bloating in the upper abdomen and sometimes severe chest pain. In desperation, because everything I was eating was effecting me on some level, I went to see my doctor. He prescribed the ppi lansoprazole. Taking that first tablet was the biggest mistake of my life. If only I’d done some research first. I was told to take it only for two weeks and then to take one tablet every other day and taper off over a couple of weeks. If only! The tables worked like a charm for the first few days then I felt symptoms creeping back. After the two weeks I didn’t take a tablet one day and felt fine… So I didn’t take one the next day, or the next day. Great! Until the fourth day when I thought I was going go die. The reflux was horrendous, as was the burning throughout my digestive system. When i felt ok I tried to eat but after only a couPle of mouthfuls felt physically sick and had to stop. I couldn’t face food and had no appetite. After a week my symptoms were unbearable and I had lost six pounds in weight. Amazingly, I hadn’t actually worked out that it was stopping the tablets that had caused the exacerbated problems. I rad about PPI’s on the Internet and was absolutely joyous when I took a tablet and everything was restored to relatively normal after only a few hours. However, in recent weeks I have read a LOT of information and am determined to get off these disgusting tablets. I hate what they are doing to me. I went back to my doctor and he has referred me for a abdominal ultrasound and a breath test for h-pylori. I am not expecting anything to come of either test but i guess it makes sense to rule out h-pylori. However, in order for this test to be accurate, they have said I need to have been off the lansoprazole for around two weeks. So, essentially, I’ve got 11 days to get off them! Yesterday I didn’t take one and although the symptoms were pretty horrible, when I did take one today, they were even worse. Go figure. I think my body’s had enough and has gone into overdrive. I’ve searched the internet for answers for years but this is the closest I’ve come to finding someone who has actually been through a very similar thing to me. You are like a ray of light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story and giving me hope to never give up the fight. Incidentally, the next time I see my doctor I will not hesitate to tell him exactly what I think of PPI’s and will suggest he reads more about them before prescribing them to anyone with an acid problem. He should have referred me for the tests BEFORE prescribing PPI’s. They should be a last resort – not a first line of defense. If only I’d realised that a few short weeks ago when my life was 100 times better than it is now. I will try the things you have suggested and hope to report back with good news.

    • I have been on several ppis over several years when they stoppedcworking and finally had a endoscope camera found sliding 3cm hiatus hearnia.tried ppi again and not working,trued ranitadine not help desperatrte for any advice

          • This is an easy answer because I think cutting out wheat can help everyone, in general. As for a hiatal hernia, wheat can likely help your digestion overall, which may bring some relief. Have you researched online some of the stretching and pushing exercises that are designed to help relieve the symptoms of the hiatal hernia? A number of practitioners online have posted ways that physically manipulating the umbilical region can help reposition the tissues and bring relief.

  7. Thank you for the this! The more information about the dangers of PPI’s out there the better!, Also information about kicking the habit is just as important, because doctors actually dont know how, which is pathetic.
    Please also see
    She makes a valid point about the lack of acid in a lot of cases of reflux, and adding acid and enzymes to assist. Also a success story!

  8. I like many others on this blog am thankful that you shared your experience as it has given me renewed hope that things will get better. I have never really been a constant sufferer of indigestion but would get the odd flare up after eating high carb foods or rich, herby or garlicky type foods and as such have just plodded along taking quick eze or using mylanta to ease it off. I have just come to the end of my university degree which has been a particularly stressful time and I found my indigestion was rearing its head more often than not .. So .. I took myself off to my GP. After explaining my symptoms (gnawing in my stomach, bloated and full feelings after eating, occasional heartburn and just general yuckiness) I was told it was more or less irritable bowel related and to avoid high FODMAP foods and prescribed a months course of Nexium. I started the Nexium and took it for around 3 weeks but started to feel worse (I would eat breakfast and come lunch time still have a big lump of undigested food sitting in my stomach and no appetite). I went back to the GP who told me I need to be more vigilant with cutting out foods etc and sent me on my way. I started doing some research on nexium and discovered that many people suffer these same side effects due to the fact that their issue in the first place wasn’t ‘too much’ acid but rather ‘not enough’ and so nexium further reduces these levels again! I stopped taking the nexium cold turkey 5 days ago (prob not the best idea) and have dealt with the aftermath of constant nagging burn in the pit of my stomach … Still no appetite… Or undigested lump of food sensation in my stomach after eating. I’ve opted for a natural approach after speaking to a naturopath (slippery elm, apple juice, apple cider vinegar and digestive enzymes etc) to try and get my stomach in some sort of order … 5 days on … Am feeling slightly better indigestion wise … However still not much of an appetite (which worries me). I guess I just wonder if I’ll ever feel normal again… Argh! … Never again will I take something prescribed on a whim without researching it first …

    • I can sympathize with you. It was a roller coaster for me, too. The DGL helped me a great deal, as did digestive enzymes and papaya extracts. I think the protein-only fast at the beginning of my journey helped wipe out the unhealthy gut flora. A couple of rounds of a high-quality probiotic didn’t hurt, either. Fortunately, I had been eating in such a way that it was nothing for me to fast for a day or so each time the reflux flared up. After a couple of weeks I started to feel like I was digesting food properly again.

      Good luck to you!

  9. Hi everyone. This is my first post about my acid reflux symptoms. I was initially diagnosed with laryngopharyngeal reflux by my ENT doctor because the acid affects my vocal cords and throat causing hoarseness, coughing, etc. I was given PPI lansoprazole which worked wonders. I have been taking it on and off for 4 years on as as needed. On one visit, I complained of heartburn so I was referred to a GI. He performed an endoscopy which was normal therefore I did not go back to him since the PPI medication took care of that symptom.

    Lately, though, I noticed my symptoms have been getting progressively worse where I have difficulty swallowing, indigestion, excess saliva and nausea so I went to see my ENT again. The first question he asked was if I stopped taking my PPI and I said yes. He said to go back on it and he doesn’t know why patients are afraid to take it. I followed his advice and went back on it and took it for about 4 months continuously and it helped. I figured this was no life to take a pill everyday so I began researching about taking PPIs to treat acid reflux and was alarmed about the damaging effects of this drug. Immediately I made the decision to stop this drug so I did, but after 4 days it came back with a vengeance producing symptoms I never felt before. The acid was so strong that refluxed up into my throat causing a painful burn as if someone poured acid down my throat and it left little scarring. I was afraid it was causing too much damage at once so I took the PPI for 2 days again and with continuous reading I learned to wean myself little by little. I stopped taking it for about 1 week now and my symptoms are under control.

    I went to the Health Food store and questioned them about foods good for acid reflux and it was very helpful. I purchased some digestive enzymes at the health food stores and I take them before each meal. I was also told to purchase B12 and to take probiotics. I also made an aggressive change to my diet by consuming mainly fruits and vegetable. In fact, I have stopped all man-made foods (anything processed – rice, flour, crackers, baked goods, deli meats, etc) and have lost a lot of weight. I learned that canned foods are the worst, then second are processed foods. Therefore, if it grows on a tree, then that’s what I eat and it has been working really well. Fresh fruits and vegetables have their own digestive enzymes when consumed, therefore, my body does not have to work hard to produce enzymes to digest these foods. Also, these foods digest within 30 minutes. Processed foods and meats could take up to 6 hours to digest, thereby leaving food longer in your stomach and in turn produces more acid. The goal is to get the food digested as quickly as possible and eating live foods (fruits and vegetables) with their own digestive enzymes are the best for sufferers from acid reflux. I have also started drinking Alkaline Water and I blend carrot with aloe vera each morning instead of tea. Aloe vera is known to coat the stomach and helps with digestion and has so many other health benefits.

    In summary, my reflux symptoms have reduced drastically where I do not need to take medications but I am still experiencing mild heartburn and the feeling that food is stuck in my esophagus and has not completely emptied into my stomach. I am still researching this since it is going on my second week after completely stopping PPI. I will keep you posted and be encouraged that there is hope.

    • I’m so glad to hear that your reflux is abating. It took a while, but my reflux is a distant memory. Only if I radially over eat or consume a few trigger foods (for example, certain juices like Poweraid Zero or Fuze) does my reflux appear and even then it’s gone as soon as my stomach empties.

  10. What about GERD-sufferers who have a weak LES? And in some cases, people with LPR have a weak LES and UES. Changing one’s diet isn’t going to eliminate the problem in such cases because the underlying problem is a weak sphincter.

    • Even in the case of a weak LES and UES, I have to believe that optimizing one’s diet to restore healthy gut flora and prevent foods that cause refluxing will bring benefit. And the question of what causes a weak LES and UES remains. Are such weaknesses caused by vagus nerve damage from elevated glucose levels? If so, dietary change could bring improvement in LES and UES function, as well.

  11. Thank you for taking the time to write this! It makes a lot of sense to me! Similarly, i had burning sensations in my chest and stomach area, as well as cramps in my abdomen and stomach area, with bloating and gas as well! This goes on everyday for abt 7-8 months already! All doctors are the same, prescribing ppis again and again. If i said one didnt work, he will change to another ppi and the cycle continues. Even though i’ve been eating a fairly healthy diet with plenty of vegetables, the symptoms remain. After reading your post, i realise wheat might be the problem. I’ve been eating white bread every morning as well as rice! I will start removing wheat and grains from my diet! :) however, i have one question, i am already very skinny and underweight as well, do you have any recommendations of what food i can eat to replace those wheat for breakfast, and rice for lunch/dinner? Also, can u share a sample meal plan which you have been eating after the fast? :) thank you so much! Glad you are feeling great already and i hope i will as well! :)

    • Also, i want to ask is oats or buckwheat acceptable in the diet? I know buckwheat is a gluten free alternative but not sure about oats! Can i also add peanut butter with buckwheat? Thank you!

      • As far as reflux is concerned, I would say let your body be your guide regarding oats or buckwheat or peanut butter. Personally, I avoid oats and buckwheat because of their unfavorable impact on blood glucose levels and I avoid peanut products because peanuts are inflammatory.

        • You are eliminating some of the most delicious elements of food. I love oats, buckwheat and peanut butter and I’m not willing to rid my diet of those delicious foods. I also love raw almonds and almond butter and find them to be good acid neutralizing foods. I have Barrett’s Esophagus from years of acid reflux damage due to weak sphincters.

          • I understand the difficulty in avoiding foods that I love. For me, grains were simply the root cause of too many problems and they simply had to go. I’m not a fan of peanuts because of their role in increasing inflammation. I still eat peanuts on occasion, however. They’re simply not a staple of my diet. I’m a fan of almonds and almond butter. Even though don’t eat much fruit any more, I’ll still occasionally eat an apple that has been sliced and dipped into almond butter.

            Giving up foods that we love is tough. We each must find our own personal balance between quality of life and quality of health.

    • A typical grain-free breakfast might be a veggie omelet or migas (scrambled eggs mixed with veggies, avocado, and salsa). Take a look at Wheat Belly Cookbook or some of the other great cookbooks (Dana Carpenter has a bunch of great cookbooks) that have very tasty grain-free breakfast recipes. I think breakfast is the most difficult meal to keep interesting because unlike lunch and dinner, we tend to want to limit ourselves to “breakfast foods” in the morning. If you can break out of the mindset that “breakfast” needs to be breakfast foods, it opens up a lot more options for keeping breakfast interesting.

  12. Hi, after nearly 7 years on PPI (lansoprazole), I wish I had found this a lot earlier. I’ve read some studies online that conclude that for some people, it might not be possible to completely stop using PPI, which alarmed me, and more than ever, felt the immediacy to resolve the problem.
    I had tried stopping before, the withdrawal symptom came rather early, the next night after I stopped taking it, the rebound kicks in so hard I could barely get a wink of sleep. Which resulted in me caving in and taking another pill. I should probably try to taper it off more subtly, as from what I’ve read, stopping taking the drug cold turkey isn’t a very effective strategy.
    If you don’t mind me asking, Rocky, how long were you on PPIs when you were finally able to kick the habit? Do you just tough it out during withdrawal symptom? Or did you prepare some alkalizing food to help during the rebound?

    • I was on PPI’s for more than a decade before repairing my digestion and getting off of the cursed things. The few weeks or month after I quit were the worst. As I mention in my bog posting, it was quite a roller coaster as my stomach’s acid production ramped back up after being dormant for so long. There were days when the reflux was so annoying that I just fasted. After a period of time, though, things settled down.

  13. Hi

    I found the information regarding wheat very interesting.

    Over the last 20 years I would occasionally (once or twice per year) get a pain on my right hand side under the rib cage. I had an ultrasound (twice now) and all they could find was a slightly fatty liver. The doctor said it was normal with todays diet.
    However, before Christmas the pain was constant and there for one month. Again, I underwent an ultrasound and everything was normal. I purchased milk thistle and a probiotic and the problem went away. A few days later I started have a lump sensation in my throat which (after googling) I put down to stress and though it would go away. Six weeks later, I had an endoscopy. Apparently and annoyingly because I would have made lifestyle changes long ago, I have had silent reflux which has damaged my oesophagus. The findings were stomach: normal, duodenum: normal; oesophagus: Barretts mucosa. Great! read into that so now i’m frightened about cancer, even though risks are small.
    I’m now on a PPI and trying to stick to a low fat diet.

    Is there anything else I can test e.g H.Pylori / Candida. I would like to get to the root cause of the problem and not go on forever treating symptoms.

    I’m going to give up wheat to to see if that helps.

    • Good luck with your efforts! I found eliminating wheat (and then all grains) the single biggest help to my reflux. It took a while, combined with intermittent fasting, for my stomach to settle down. Being on the PPI’s for so long had really altered my stomach’s acid production.

      You make a great point about gut flora needing to be healthy for optimum digestion. I was recently chatting with a practitioner in the Dallas area who is very big on characterizing and optimizing gut flora in her patients. She starts with urine testing from Geneova Diagnostics and stool testing from Doctor’s Data, Inc. and creates a plan for rebuilding healthy gut flora. When I started trying to improve my gut flora nearly five years ago, I didn’t have the benefit of such testing. I just did a three-day protein fast like that described in the book Protein Power Life Plan, by Dr. Eades. The book’s assertion was that the unhealthy gut flora can’t survive on a 100% protein diet and will therefore die off in a few days, after which one can begin taking the highest quality probiotic available to rebuild. Were I to do it now, I would try and find a local practitioner who would go about it more specifically, starting with urine and stool testing to see what my gut flora looked like and proceed from there. It pleases me that practitioners are beginning to care about the health of gut flora in their patients.

    • I think the behavior plays out something like this:

      Our lifestyle of eating grains (primarily wheat), sugars, and other foods that promote unhealthy gut flora produce our GERD. We mistake the GERD as “too much stomach acid” because the PPI’s marketing literature tells us that and so we begin taking PPI’s. It’s true that reducing stomach acid production by 90% or more brings short-term relief, but it doesn’t solve the problems. It only treats the symptoms. Now that we’re on the PPI, we have very little stomach acid and rancid, undigested food slowly makes its way through our digestive system, often sitting in our stomachs (and points south) for many hours longer than it would have were we not on PPI’s. We’re not feeling the reflux symptoms simply because we’re not making any stomach acid, to speak of, but our digestion is a mess of undigested rotting food, unhealthy gut flora, and the toxins and waste products that the rotting food and unhealthy flora produces.

      Now, we stop the PPI’s and the long dormant acid pumps come back online and start producing 10x or more the stomach acid we’re accustomed to. This dramatic increase in acid production, even though it’s returning to normal levels, produces a huge increase in reflux symptoms. This is especially true if we’re still eating unfavorably and our gut is a mess. It’s also possible that the acid pumps in our stomach overproduce as they return to normal function after being on a PPI for months or years. I truly don’t know, but it’s certainly reasonable to believe that overproduction may occur on restart.

      From our perspective, this increase in symptoms when stopping the PPI only serves to reinforce what the literature says: too much acid is the problem. So we go back on the PPI and the cycle continues: dramatically reduced acid causes the symptoms to abate but the root causes are unchanged, and even worsened.

      From my experience, and many others who chime in here and have emailed me, there is a “roller coaster” period when taking one’s self off of PPI’s. Seemingly worse reflux symptoms for a day or two, feeling better for a day or two, some trigger foods are no longer triggers, some new foods are. As I mentioned in my narrative, it took a few weeks of patience, careful eating, gut flora rebuild, and even fasting, to give my body a chance to settle down and stabilize into a normal digestive behavior without the effects of the PPI.

      More than four years later, I have no reflux symptoms whatsoever and I’m doing it with normal, not dramatically reduced, stomach acid levels.

  14. I have been suffering from GERD for years too but does this mean that I cannot ever eat wheat again? Cause it would totally suck to not be able to eat bread and I can’t really eat diary either cause it messes up my IBS.

    • If you read “Wheat Belly,” by cardiologist Dr. William Davis, you’ll see that there are quite a number of reasons not to eat wheat, GERD notwithstanding. I, too, miss wheat from time-to-time, but my overall health has improved dramatically without it. I now see wheat for what for what it really is: a harmful product that bears no resemblance to the wheat from 50 years ago. Wheat hearts our digestive system, elevates our blood glucose to harmful levels, and causes our lipids to shift to those patterns that promote heart disease. Wheat is definitely something that no human needs to eat.

  15. hi there i have being on ppis (protium f 40mg)or 6 years now my digestion was always bad steak for exapmle could not eat sit in me for days and make me feel shit recently i had my appendix out 8 weeks ago ever since the operation my digestion has gotten worse i took digestive enzymes for a few days worked great but seemed to burn my stoamch.. is it true that digestion is very bad when on ppis?? and slows it all down and makes u feel ill? i have a hitial hernia in stomach as well every food lately i get gas few hours after eating and some cramping any idea thanks

    • I think PPI’s cause digestive problems because the loss of 90+% of stomach acid slows digestion and results in a undigested sludge laying in your digestive system, breeding unhealthy flora and causing other problems. When I stopped taking my PPI’s it was a bit of a roller coaster. I tried the pure protein fast diet as described in Eades’ book “Protein Power Lifeplan,” to help kill off the unhealthy flora. I powered down probiotics. I fasted for an entire day if my stomach just wasn’t up for food. Slowly after a period of a few weeks my digestion resumed its normal behavior after more than a decade on PPI’s.

  16. Dear Rocky,

    I was diagnosed with gastritis and esophagitis a few months ago. I was on a PPI before this diagnosis and after it they just increased my PPI dosage. My symptoms are MUCH better now, due to a change in diet (protein, rice, sweet potato, chicken). However, I’m still nowhere near 100%. I met with my GI doctor today and she now believes my gastritis and esophagitis were caused by IBS. I also asked her about taking a probiotic and she agreed it would be a good idea. I asked her about tapering off the PPI and that’s what we’re going to do. However, my “output” is still yellow in color, that tells me things are not right in the digestive tract. What should I do to restore the normal gut flora? Can you recommend a high quality probiotic? What else can be done so I can get back to normal? For the record, I took antibiotics in the weeks leading up to my initial gastritis flare-up period, so that must have done some harm that set this whole health problem in motion. Please help.


    • All I can say is what worked for me when I was in a similar situation. When I was in a horrible gastric mess, I first stopped eating all grains. To help reset my gut flora I followed the advice by Dr. Eades in the book Protein Power Life Plan and spent three days consuming nothing but very high quality protein powder and water. Their contention is that unhealthy gut flora cannot live on pure protein.

      After three days of a protein diet, I reintroduced better foods and probiotics. I just went to my local health food store and bought the highest quality probiotic I could find, with the most strains and the highest number of active cultures. During this rebuild time, I still had days where everything seemed to trigger reflux. Because I had been eating low-carb a while by then, it was rather easy for me to just fast for 24 hours whenever one of these flare-ups occurred. After a few weeks of healthy eating, probiotics, and intermittent fasting, all of my symptoms subsided. I’m very happy that a few years later, I’m without symptoms and not taking any PPI’s. I still take a good quality probiotic with every meal and also include prebiotic fibers, which are basically just types of fiber that do not increase blood glucose but are beneficial to heathy gut flora.

      Good luck!

  17. Thanks very much for sharing your experience. The post really has helped a lot. I have benefited greatly. I’ve always thought I am the only one having this problem. It has been with me for some time. I have been having same problem for sometime. My Dr prescribed PPIs over and over. What I have discovered was that as soon as I started the drug,I will be ok for a while, thereafter my condition will get worse. I am worse than how it was when I started having the problem ,as my digestive system seems to be in real disorder state. I eat wheat and grains. Unfortunately,this happens to be the most common type of food we eat in my part of country,in Nigeria. I will have to start with wheat first and I’ll observe how it goes in stopping or reducing the problem. I look forward to more suggestions on the type of food I should be eating. But really should I avoid eating bread?

  18. Thanks for this article. I’ve had ‘stomach issues’ since I was 18 – I’m now 25 and it just keeps getting worse. I have had a sore throat for over a week and am crippled with acid pain in my stomach and throat – I had an endoscopy last week and it all looked fine, which leads me to think its a dietary issue. I am vegan (for ethical reasons), so I don’t eat any meat or dairy or eggs (I have an egg allergy anyway), and this helped a lot with my IBS symptoms at the start. However, I now feel worse than ever so I’m going to try cutting grains – what I would like you’re advice about is what you would recommend I replace them with. I understand that you may not ‘agree’ with a vegan diet, but for ethical reasons I simply cannot eat meat. I thought I could replace my grains with sweet potatoes, squash, chickpeas and lentils? At least I would be getting all the grains out of my diet? What are your thoughts? I’m feeling very anxious about the whole thing right now. Also, can you recommend a good brand of probiotics?

    • Fortunately, the grains you are seeking to avoid are only providing carbohydrates, the least necessary (unnecessary, many say) macronutrient. And as a vegetarian, you’re well aware that veggies are a very beneficial, micronutrient-rich source of carbohydrates. I believe that totally eliminating grains and getting your carbs entirely from low-glycemic vegetables will benefit you significantly. I’m a huge advocate of controlling one’s blood sugar and, when it comes to GERD, avoiding any food source for unfavorable gut flora. There are tons of veggies that will do that. The green leafy veggies, the squashes, etc. I would avoid any potatoes because of the starchy component that’s more likely to fuel unfavorable flora. I’d also avoid beans for the same reason, at least while you were in “repair mode.” To find a good probiotic, I just went to the local health food store and sought out the refrigerated section and purchased the one with the highest number of activate cultures with the greatest number of strains available. It wasn’t cheap, but I felt it was worth it. This was, though, after I had spent a few days on a pure protein (high-quality protein powder with no artificial sweeteners, especially Splenda because Splenda disrupts gut flora).

      It was a roller coaster as my stomach acid production kicked back in. You don’t say that you’ve been on PPI’s, so if you haven’t you’re lucky. That further complicates things.

      If you’re comfortable doing so, don’t be afraid to skip a meal or two if that helps the GERD symptoms when they’re at their worst.

      Good luck. I truly believe that grains were the root cause of my GERD. I can eat any of my former “trigger foods” now without any problem, further showing me that what I thought were the cause (tomato sauce, chocolate, etc.) were not the root cause, just triggers.

  19. amazing information. i am on PPI since last 8 months for chronic symptoms are not improving. can you please suggest me the DIET becausei didnt found any better diet on internet..i am using apples, bananas, pears which are alkaline in nature and boiled green vegetables, milk and yogurt but here yogurt contains small quantity of sugars as plz suggest me best diet to follow..thank you

    • I found that too much sugar exacerbated my reflux, presumably because the sugars fed the unfavorable gut flora. If it were me, I would stick with the green vegetables but eliminate the fruit and the milk. A general low-carb diet, including healthy natural fats seems to work best for me.

  20. I am constantly coughing. I believe it is a symptom of GERD because the same coughing fits happened to me 15 years ago. At that time, I took a PPI for one month, the coughing stopped, and I went off the PPI. Now the fits have returned, only more violently. I take a PPI, but it is not working. In fact, when I finally get some rest and wake up refreshed, I take the PPI, wait one hour as prescribed before eating anything, and within that hour I start coughing again. I am going to follow your suggestion of not eating wheat. It seems higher protein seems to help too. I may try the initial fast. What about other grains like brown rice? Are grains bad in general? Sometimes I have a smoothie with kale, apple, banana, and almond milk and I start coughing too. Perhaps I am drinking it too fast? Any suggestions would be helpful. Coughing all day in fits is very very tiring. Thank you.

    • When I was switching to a better diet, I eliminated all grains, not just wheat. I had been taking PPI’s for so long that I wanted to give myself the best diet I could. After my initial, protein powder-only fast, I stuck with meats, vegetables, berries, and little or no fruit, to give the unhealthy gut flora as little sugar as possible. After the period of recovery that I described in my posting, I was able to introduce some of the other foods that had been excluding, like very small amounts of fruit (I still eat very little fruit, because of the sugar) and some foods that had previously been a trigger, like dark chocolate and tomatoes or tomato sauce. For me, it was important that I give my digestive time to heal, hence no grains and no carbs/sugar that would feed the unhealthy gut flora.

  21. Hey just wondering what type of protien this was that you went on? I went off the ppi and things got really bad, I have started them again but I want off. I already fast and don’t eat wheat or dairY but still eat rice and oatmeal. Just wondering if this is a vegatarian type of protien? And also if you reccoment going off all grains?

    • I forget the exact brand of protein I used. Even if I remembered exactly which one I used, it’s been more than a few years, to it’s not certain that the exact brand would be available today. I recall the Drs. Eades saying that one should use the highest quality protein one can find, devoid of any artificial sweeteners. I also tried to find one that was processed at low temperature, rather than high heat. I know there are a bunch of sites out there that have reviewed protein powders and there are some really good ones.

  22. Gerd is a symptom of Coeliac disease. You can even have the genes, or most of the genes for Coeliac and have a gluten intolerance. I had the genetic testing done because I had severe gastro symptoms for years–turns out I have 3 out of 4 of the genes for Coeliac. Stopping any form of gluten has been a life saver for me. If you have Coeliac disease and keep consuming wheat, gluten eventually causes GERD. My dad had it, his mother and my grandmother had it–all on the same side of the family that we have primarily Cherokee (Native American). We have type I and II diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis on that side too–mostly auto immune issues due to the Western diet interfering with Native gene structure.

    • I’ve read studies showing how quickly the health of the native Americans declined after the introduction of the western diet. I believe genetics determines the exact mechanism of damage from the Standard American Diet but nobody is immune from harm. And this doesn’t even consider the people who have Celiac but do not present with the typical symptoms or biomarkers, and there are reportedly many more such Celiac sufferers than ever thought before.

  23. Hi Rocky,
    Well, it looks like my forever eating plan has to change!

    I’ve had GERD 10+ years and my first endoscopy was in April 2015; H. pylori was not found, however, I had a stricture (which they dilated), eroded esophagus and was prescribed PPIs. I asked the Dr. several questions about the medication and he said “You worry too much.”, really?! Waiting a couple months, with script in hand, I started using them; and no surprise, they worked.

    Three days ago I went off the PPIs thinking it was contributing to new symptoms I’ve experienced for the past few weeks; stomach/intestinal cramping, bathroom urgency, extreme gas and feeling of fullness—do I now have IBS, I wondered? It also seemed like some mild GERD symptoms were returning as well.

    My GERD is bothering me today, however not as bad as others have mentioned after going off PPIs cold turkey. I tried apple cider vinegar—didn’t work completely as I believe I also have LES. I easily have 100 pounds to lose; perhaps my body is FORCING / TELLING me to do it NOW! I plan to purchase probiotics and turmeric (anti-inflammatory). I am an unhealthy vegetarian and cutting out animal protein was easy. Cutting out wheat/grain—sounds tough. Stopping refined sugars—oh, no. Bye-bye fried foods and possibly dairy—wowzer. However, I’m the only one standing in MY way of better health. I got myself in this mess, I now have to get myself out! Thank you for this post!

  24. Hi. Great piece of writing.
    I am using PPI’s for 20 years now and tried many times to stop. Main reason is that i’m starting to get problems with my bones. 20 years ago i had an eradication therapy for the Helicobacter. After that they left me on the PPI and never looked back. Do you have some other books you recommend? I needed to stop last year for 2 weeks and it was hell. One thing i did notice that the acid was way less when i only ate meat and veggies plus the apple vinegar.

    • For me, the journey off of PPIs was a bit of a roller coaster. Because my stomach acid production had been suppressed for more than a decade I knew my stomach would not return to normal overnight. I tried to take each day at a time, doing whatever I needed to do to make it through the day. Some days I ate very sparingly. Some days I fasted entirely.

      Through it all, I was careful to avoid grains, starches, sugars, etc. that would promote unfavorable gut flora. I stuck with low glycemic vegetables, meats, nuts, etc. I realized that rebuilding a healthy gut flora was key to restoring digestive health. During this process I read all I could on restoring gut health, which included the suggestion by Dr. Eades in Protein Power Lifeplan to start the gut rebuild process with a three-day protein powder fast to help eradicate the unhealthy flora. Dr. Eades contends that unhealthy flora can’t survive on pure protein. During this entire process, I purchased and began taking high quality probiotics to help the rebuild. It was important to me that I first eradicated the bad flora before attempting to rebuild with probiotics.

      I didn’t worry about the trivial amount of sugar or starch used as fillers in my supplements. Compared to the way I had been eating, I figured that amount didn’t matter.

      My greatest tool was fasting. On the days when everything I ate seemed to cause immediate reflux, I just fasted for 24 hours and tried again the next day. Eventually, my stomach settled down and the reflux abated. The entire process took nearly a month, if I recall, but I eventually emerged with healthy digestion and no reflux. I still occasionally experience slight reflux but it’s very rarely. For me, avoiding the carbs, especially wheat and other grains, is key.

      • Thanks a lot for your respons.I’ve bought a the books and will start soon. Good to know i don’t have to worry too much about the fillers. But just to ask, can you recommend some supplements? The fasting seems logical and i know what you mean. When i went to the hospital with an empry stomach i had to w8 a long time and never once did i have acid or whatever. 20 years is a long time. I just hope i can still revers some things. Would a “whey isolate” do the trick?

        • I wasn’t too worried about what particular form of protein my powder contained. More that the powder was free from artificial sweeteners and other chemicals. I’ve read that cold milled protein powders are better because the cold milling process doesn’t oxidize the protein as much.

          There’s a saying “perfect is the enemy of good,” and I think that applies with self improvement. I found the best protein powder I could, used it in the fast, and continued the process. I think the foods we choose to eat during the rest of our life are far more relevant than the protein powder we use to start the recovery process.

          If the powder had a bit of a benign sweetener, like stevia, I’d be okay with that. I’d stay away from Splenda (sucralose) because Splenda can cause unfavorable gut flora.

  25. Oh yeah. I was wondering how your diet is now? What is a good diet to continue with after the Fasting etc. You know any books about that? Thanks in advance. I’m ready to buy yours.

  26. I’ve ordered some books including yours, but i still can’t get my head around about which supplements to take. I mean, they all have fillers. If they say “sugar free” they still have ingredients like Sucrose,Fructose and Glucose. So the Vitamine D i need to take and all the others are def not helping me if i need to cut out all the sugars and wheat etc. Any suggestions to help me out here? Thanks.

  27. Hi. I was looking for some protein shakes but most of them contain carbs and or sugars? Should i not care about that? I’m living in Italy and having a hard time finding the things i need…

    • I wonder if might be a source for a high-quality protein powder that suits your requirements?

      I’ve traveled extensively to Italy and find that avoiding carbs can be particularly difficult there. Wheat, the worst reflux culprit, is always a temptation for me when I’m there.

      • Thanks for your reply. It doesn’t matter where i get them from i just can’t find any. For me it’s a matter of life and death. I’m looking for one that is unsweetened and unflavoured,cross flow micro filtered whey isolate with added vitamins and minerals. And for the moment it’s impossible to find. But i will continue looking. I just wish there was a better guideline on that because i want to start soon with the 3 days or so. In Italy there is a lot of wheat temptation indeed. I started reading the Protein Power Plan and i got your book too, I’m ready to do this. 15 years on the PPI is no joke and i’m starting to get all sorts of problems. I could live for ever without wheat and sugars as long as i will never have to go back to PPI. Anyway i’m starting to rant. Thanks again.

  28. I found one. It also ships internationally. It has added Colustrum? So i guess the vitamins and minerals are covered. XCT oil ? Don’t know if that will work but yeah.They use proprietary filtration and their whey is not micro filtered, hydrolyzed, cross-flow filtered, or ion exchanged I dont know why i’m so difficult in picking one. But it seems logical to get one with no trash in it. The whole idea is to only feed my body proteins right?. To be honest i really don’t know if my stomach can handle 3 days proteins since its based on lactose but we will see. Sorry if i start to be annoying with this.I was just happy to read how you resolved this so i want to execute this perfect..

    • I remember Dr. Eades saying in his book that three days might be more than is necessary for some people. I chose three days because I wanted to be sure but less time may be sufficient for some people.

  29. Hi,
    This is a great thread and has been so useful. I’ve had reflux all my life and eventually at the age of 40 (5 years ago) was diagnosed with Barrett’s oesophagus. I knew very well about all the backlash against PPI’s but was advised that I absolutely have to take it, that the benefits outweigh the risks, and that I am risking cancerous changes to my oesphagus if I come off the PPI’s (omeprazole). Is this really true, am I the ‘extreme case’ that can’t be helped by natural methods? I can say that I came off the PPI for 7 days for a hpylori test and was terrified of the acid resurgence but I decided to eat carefully, eat less (particularly after 6pm), reduce carbs and what I think might have been most effective, a tablespoon of ACV before I ate each morning, when I would have been taking the PPI. Anyway it worked and I had almost no reflux.

  30. I wonder if their is such a condition as ” Seasonal GERD-?” For me around Easter, The Spring and heading into Mother’s day has become a time for flare ups. Right side dull pain Gaul Bladder or Liver area followed by constant throwing up- at times Bile- but basically everything even water that I try to consume. The body weight drops ten pounds; it takes two plus weeks and then I’m back to normal. The past few Springtimes have been filed with stress for me, parents dying, dog dying, etc and I always had stress pegged as the ignition for my problems. That and a lot of chocolate around Easter. This year I’m very concerned that I am basically stress free (or at least i think I am) yet the same physical breakdown happened. I don’t have to tell anyone that in the middle of this– it’s bad. Nausea, the eyes, the chest it’s everywhere. Everyone has a food restrict idea: my beloved coca cola being a main one. Coffee I adore and that may be a problem, I drink a lot without food in the morning- now I half and half with warm milk. And I eat a breakfast. Some are anti dairy yet a Vanilla milkshake has been one of the first foods back for me and it soothed the chest area. I have begun taking Manuka honey in a tea, it has been very helpful, if an Peptide ulcer is to blame for keeping valve open the Manuka will work wonders. I want to change my habits next year before this happens in the Spring– maybe a fast or radical diet change. Or abstaining from Marijuana or switching to vaporizer. The one year I took a vacation at Christmas time, the health breakdown didn’t come that spring. I believe I disrupted the ” clock ” that year by inserting heat and humidity in the usual for me winter time.There is a hot/ cold relationship I believe, a mucus discharge relationship and many other I’m sure. Removing some of this ” heat” through acupuncture and herbs I am also very into. I don’t go to Dr’s unless on a stretcher. -Ben H nyc

    • Identifying root causes can be a huge challenge. For me, radical dietary changes produces results that were immediate and significant enough to show me that I was on the right track. From there, an orchestrated gut rebuild helped ensure the GERD stayed away. Even though I consider myself fully cured, there are still occasions there I have some reflux symptoms, perhaps a couple of times per year. I think some trigger foods remain, too. For example, some teas and some spices seem more prone to cause reflux than other foods, too. As difficult as a radical diet change was for me, I’m glad that I took that step. The results have been worth it.

    • I’m 21 and have smoked weed since like 8th grade…. smoking is the sole cause of my gerd, probably urs 2, every time u smoke it relaxes the LES valve which is the thing that stops the acid from coming up. The longer u irritated the worst it gets, until it all together stops functioning, which is the state im currently in,,, Ik how awsome weed is, but im telling u dude i would stop smoking before it’s to late.. Also if ur not gona stop definatly don’t vape, vaping is what really started my acid reflex and kickstarted it, i started vaping in 9th grade and thats when my gerd started, and i started to pickup on how vaping was giving me acid reflex like crazy, smoking less so, but it still relaxes that valve and now im permantly fucked and wish i never touched weed.

      • I’m so sorry to hear of your GERD. I appreciate your cautionary tale to those who would partake. I think weed is a bad idea, for a variety of reasons, not just for its likely contribution to GERD. I’m especially concerned about the increasing popularity of vaping because, as I understand it, the primary component of the vaping liquid is vegetable oil. Vegetable oil is primarily omega-6 fatty acids, which are hugely inflammatory. Now, imagine vaporizing omega-6 fatty acids until their a superheated aerosol and inhaling them into the lungs, whereby they enter the bloodstream. I think people who vape for years will find themselves suffering significant inflammatory disease, affecting not just the lungs, but the brain and other organs. I fear that vaping is just replacing one demon with another.

  31. Hi. Your story has me wondering if I can get over this. I never felt heartburn but started hurting in my chest and upper back. Finally got referred to GI after having heart checked. Well I already had esophagitis. So frustrating as I mostly had eaten paleo, homemade sauerkraut, kefir, used dig enzymes and probiotics for a couple of years. I do have a small hiatal hernia which I guess is the problem. I knew about the bad PPIs but the dr said to take them 3 months because I had to heal. I reluctantly did and then started tapering off, but the weird feeling in my esophagus never went completely away. So they scoped me again this week and I’m all healed. That’s nice but I still feel something off and on all day. I have tapered still further and am wondering if I’m rebound even though I’m not completely off. I’m just afraid the acid will still leak through and damage again because of the hernia. Dr said 95% of the time, people like me get esophagitis again when they get off PPIs. I continued dig enzymes and probiotics the whole 3 months and used DGL a month and d-limonene too. I’m going to get completely off soon but I’m afraid it will all happen again. Any thoughts about the hernia?

    • I know that studies show rebound is a very real effect of discontinuing PPI’s. I have researched hiatal hernia for family members and know that there are a number of exercises that can help push the hernia back into a more normal position. Some of the exercised involve drinking a quantity of water and then jolting the stomach downward and some involve standing and stretching and manipulating the stomach with your hands in a specific way. Rather than try to describe the methods more fully here, I’ll just let you look online. Also, I’ve heard reports from a number of hiatal hernia sufferers that chiropractors are a great help because they can press on the abdomen in such a way as to help the stomach return to normal.

      Good luck!

      And, of course, avoiding the grains has always been vital for me to avoid the reflux feeling and miserable throat. Just a slight misstep and my symptoms reappear.

  32. Thanks for the reply. I’ve been on a mini vacation and ate sugar and gluten of all things. I feel horrible and bloated but haven’t had much GERD symptoms. I have weaned down to 1/2 tablet (10 mg) so am going to start the protein powder today and do 10 mg every other day soon and then off completely. I don’t have extra glutamine. Should I buy some?
    Back to hernia, I have done the water and jumping and breathing for 3 months. And the Dr said I still had a small hernia when he re-scoped. I went to a chiropractor during that time, too, and he pulled on my stomach and said it came out, but he only used muscle energy testing for that. Not sure how I feel about that. I wish I could find one who could manipulate it out for good.
    Anyway, thanks again. I’m just scared of taking this step….afraid it won’t work because of the hernia. Then what do I do??
    Sorry–just feeling a little down today.

    • Me again. I know you followed the Eades’ information. Since they talk about Norm Robillard, I was wondering if you agree with his fermentable points theory? Or do you think just reducing total carbs is the best? I got his book, but I am trying your way first. Made it through my first day of protein powder, working on my second day. I’m out of probiotics now, so will get more to start after my third day of protein powder.
      Also, today is the first day without any omeprazole. I took 20 mg then 10 then 20 for a week or so, then 10 mg everyday for a week or so, and now 10 one day, none the next, back and forth for a week or so then hopefully done. I can do some fasting, so I may do that on the bad days like you said. Did you drink water on those days? What about bone broth??

      • I’m not familiar enough with Robillard’s fermentable points theory to offer a valid opinion. My initial impression is that he’s saying the right things overall. When I fasted during my “troublesome” days while my stomach’s acid production was coming online, I stuck with just water. That’s not to say that a little bone broth or a light snack of some sort wouldn’t be helpful, it’s just that I elected to keep things simple and stick with water. Part of it might have been a battle of wills between me and my stomach: “If you’re not going to behave yourself, I’m not feeding you today. So there!” :-)

    • Hi. I don’t want to sound like an ass, but isn’t the whole point of the protein reset period to not use Omeprazol at all? I mean, if you go for a gastroscopy you also have to stop for at least 2 weeks.Personally my acid really becomes bad after 3. But you get my point. I will try this too and continue with the Purist approach from the Protein Power Plan. I did finally find a good protein powder with a certified CFM and al the other supplements are pretty much clean. Wish me luck and all the best to anyone with these life wrecking problems.

  33. Hi. Thanks for your post. My problem is not heartburn but constant feeling of fullness, bloatedness and undigested food in my stomach. Since I have taken PPI half a year ago (lansoprazole) i have no symptoms until a a month ago, in which I started PPI again, first for 4 days and then as the symptoms came back the next week, I started again for 6 days of PPI. But after 3 days and kind of overate on third day on lunch timr, symptoms of fullness bloatedness came full force in which I dont feel hungry at all for almost 20 hours without food now. Also, I’m quite a thin ectomorph individual, I’m afraid restricting all grains will cause me to lose weight even more. Besides, as an Asian, we have eaten white rice forever and I don’t see anything else as a good carb source besides all grains. Veggies only have minuscule calories in it. I usually eat bran cereal every other day and wheat bread every other second day for breakfast. Any advice and meal ideas would be appreciated.

    • Personally, I think the calories in the grains aren’t worth the harm that they do. What are your protein sources? Poultry? Fish? Beef? I have to believe that adequate protein, coupled with healthy natural fats and low glycemic veggies are they way to build the healthiest gut flora and reduce the incidence of reflux and other digestive issues.

    • Sebastian, sounds like you may have Lazy stomach. If you haven’t already, I would ask your doctor to test for that.

      • Lazy stomach, (that is, slow digestion) can frequently be caused by vagus nerve damage. The vagus nerve is easily damaged by high blood sugar, which is all too common in today’s world.

    • Different people have different trigger foods, I believe. Despite my successes, I still sometimes reflux from certain teas and too much chocolate, for example. I’ve heard of spicy foods and caffeine being triggers, too. I would tailor my diet to avoid anything that showed itself to be a trigger for reflux.

      • Rocky, I’m lactose intolerant, even “lactose free whey” messes up my stomach…. How can I go about this 3 day cleanse… Can I just eat straight chicken breast? or is there something to the protein powder process. I mean I could try something like rice protein powder maybe……………… Appreciate any advice dude and thanks for what ur doing really saving ppls lives.

        • I have a friend who is allergic to dairy proteins and she uses soy protein, rice protein, hemp protein, pea protein, and the like. I haven’t tried any of them, but there’s apparently a large selection of vegan protein powders out there receiving favorable reviews.

  34. Rocky, thank you very much for this post. Excellent.

    Can you please give more detail about how much protein powder to consume on the 3 day fast. Each scoop of the whey protein I am planning to use has 25g of protein. So how many scoops per day should I take while on the fast/how many grams of protein per day?

    And also how much glutamine (in grams) should I take per day? I will add this to the whey protein.

    Thank you very much.

    • For the glutamine powder, I just followed the recommendation on the label. As for protein consumption, I looked online and found out a reliable source for protein intake based upon body weight. These calculators tend to suggest 1 to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. Since it was only for 72 hours, I didn’t really worry too much about getting a little too much protein or too little.

    • I know only what I’ve experienced and what other’s have told me, that it’s all about gut health and avoiding grains. I found great relief after eliminating all grains (especially wheat), dramatically reducing carbohydrate intake, and using probiotics to rebuild my gut health. In addition, I was able to identify the trigger foods that caused the most distress, including chocolate and some spicy foods. Of all the changes I made, eliminating grains was probably the biggest help.

  35. I am on Lansoprasole for more than 10 years. I started weaning of from 15gr per day and it was OK until I reach a dose of 3gr per day. That was two weeks ago..Previous 3 days the symptoms are back but I am taking the antacid or sodium bicarbonate to subside the symptoms..I was so disappointed that weaning off didn’t work and I found this article. I will try to buy tomorrow some high quality protein and probiotic to start the gut healing process for 3 days..I will also exclude the grains and sugar to see how this will go on..Can you please suggest what to eat during this period and in the future?? I am suffering from heartburn that is really annoying…I was 100% sure to be back on PPI for life and this article appeared…best regards.

    • As I’ve said to others, I can attest to what worked for me. During my first three days I consumed a high-quality protein powder that didn’t have any artificial sweeteners in it. The goal was to starve the bad bacteria by denying them the sugars and carbohydrates that they had been living on for quite some time. After that, it was a systematic process of rebuilding my gut health using probiotics and low-carbohydrate foods. If you read all of the comments to this thread, as well as the responses, you’ll gain additional insight into what has worked for others. For me, it was a process with its ups and downs. There were good days and bad. Overall, however, the trend improved and after a period of time, my reflux was gone. Good luck to you!

  36. When you say you fasted with high quality protein powder, did you make a protein shake? If so, was it just protein powder, water and glutamine? How much glutamine? I have been suffering from GERD for a few months now, out of nowhere I got a flare up and unlike my past experience with it, it will not go away, everything I eat creates pain, I have been eating oatmeal, wheat crackers and such, wondering if they are making it worse??? Thank you for this info!

  37. I was diagnosed a couple years ago. put on PPI, dexilant, rinitidine and carafate. In Dec. I was diagnosed with SIBO/lactose.. I went off my PPI to take the tests. I was not having any symptoms of reflux at all after going off of them. Been feeling really good watching what I eat for SIBO. Now just last week I started having reflux again. belching all the time, I am very frustrated about this. seeing my dr. on Mar 1 . we will see what he says.

  38. Luckily I read your post before I started the ENT prescribed PPI. I just didn’t trust it and didn’t want to be saddled with side effects. My symptoms (constant throat clearing and a daily dry cough, lots of sinus drainage) are still a mystery. I became gluten free a few years ago after self diagnosing gluten to cause my constant dizziness. Miraculously dizziness has become much less a burden on my daily life since getting off gluten. When I cheat at the occasional social function that has fresh pizza, I pay for it with immediate exhaustion over the inflammation it causes. I am amazed at how many doctors completely ignore diet and nutrition. I much prefer naturopaths but sometimes certain tests are needed that doctors can order. I continue to seek a solution to my malady, and have recently tried probiotics like fermented foods and kombucha (which is surprisingly tasty without sugar!) but I have diarrhea symptoms now after a day of healthy eating. Is it possible that I had too much healthy food yesterday?

    • It’s tough to say. I’ve seen people go gluten free in an unfavorable way, by eating pre-packaged gluten free products that are composed primarily of starches, rice syrups, and other high-glycemic ingredients. I’m not saying you have done so, but I’ve seen people disrupt their gut flora in such a manner, producing symptoms that you describe. For me, I found that focusing on process of rebuilding my gut flora was a significant step to improving my reflux in my post-PPI weeks.

  39. I have the opposite problem. I cut out gluten 8 months ago and felt great mentally and emotionally, but my stomach went downhill and I ended up with gerd/lpr. Nothing really helped until I recently ate a piece of whole wheat bread and that made a huge difference.

    I still have to eat bread with every meal or else I will reflux. I have to conclude that going gluten free caused my reflux. I am lost and confused here.

    • How are you going gluten free? Are you buying some of the many pre-made “gluten free” products in the store? If so, that may very well be your problem. Gluten free processed foods replace gluten with extrodinarily high glycemic ingredients like rice flour, rice syrup, etc. These ingredients will cause unhealthy gut flora to flourish. I talk about this in this posting here.

      If this isn’t the case, have you tried rebuilding your gut flora? There are a number of places online that talk about protocols for doing so. They typically involve subsisting for a couple of days on nothing but a very high quality protein powder, followed by a regimen with a very potent probiotic.

  40. First I’d like to say that you are so kind to be helpful to sufferers on this thread for so long. I’m happy to have found it. I have been on PPI’s for 15 years and would love to know that there is another answer, difficult as it may be (currently upped to 60mg Dexilant ppi, having so much trouble.

    I am concerned about the following quote from the article “Gastritis Symptoms: 4 Natural Treatments…” on Dr Axe’s site. Quote says, “Chronic gastritis can also be treated and managed, but it usually requires medication use as well.” I hope this statement is false and that I can heal by making the types of changes that have worked for someone like you (instead of meds, since they are no longer working well). I have red, inflamed gastritis in addition to GERD. Sometimes my symptoms are intense, gnawing pain in the abdomen, sometimes GERD, sometimes pains in my back. (HPylori eliminated years ago–now testing neg–and scope shows red, inflamed gastritis–some scars were removed).

    Do you believe that your approach would still offer a solution to someone like me?

    Thank you.

    • I think rebuilding one’s gut flora and optimizing diet is beneficial for everyone. It took a number of weeks (months?) before my system recovered as I changed my diet and weaned myself off of my PPI’s. There were periods when my stomach would tolerate nothing, so I just fasted for a half-day or a full day until things settled down. It was difficult and frustrating at times, but I emerged from it much better. I was on PPIs for more than a decade and I could tell that it took a while before I began digesting properly again.

      If you take vitamin D, be sure and include the critical vitamin D cofactors, too, to ensure that the vitamin D is properly absorbed: magnesium, vitamin K, zinc, and boron are the primary co-factors. (Boron is a trace mineral found in leafy vegetables, nuts, wine, and cider. The other items are probably best obtained through supplementation.)

  41. Also, do you have any advice on multi-vitamins for after the protein fast? Any ingredients I should avoid that will irritate the stomach? I have to take one with methylated folate since I cannot process folic acid and have a folic acid deficiency. I am planning to take one with a methylated form of the B vitamins too, and I know I am low in D too.

  42. i think you have put a lot of thought into this and i appreciate it. my gerd or whatever you call it can get so bad i have to take days off just to fast. i’m vegan – i really don’t want to go back to eating meat or dairy – i’m going to try the protein powder and probiotics for a few days. but i need something to stick to my ribs so i don’t starve to death. i have an organic fruit orchard but have long suspected that i can’t eat much fruit. i don’t think i can make it eating just vegetables and nuts. what about millet or other gluten free grains? i would like to see you post a bunch of sample meals. i think you should also stress eating very small quantities numerous times a day. thanks

    • Not being a vegan I can’t recommend a specific vegan diet that would be ideal to help reduce GERD symptoms, but I can share some insights that helped me. The primary factor, for me, was rebuilding my gut flora to begin the process. As you indicated, I did this with a high-quality protein powder “fasting” to kill the unhealthy gut flora, combined with the strongest probiotic product I could find at the time. Second, avoiding wheat (and all other grains) was vital to my recovery. And third, avoiding high glycemic carbohydrates so that the unhealthy gut flora didn’t get a chance to flourish.

      You may have to research this in pieces in then assemble a play for yourself. For example, researching what the highest quality protein sources are for a vegan diet will help you determine ideal proteins. Then researching the ideal, low-glycemic vegetables so that you feed only your favorable gut flora. Avoiding grains as a vegan is simple: just enjoy low-glycemic vegetables, nuts, and berries. (Nuts are a double-edged sword sometimes because the carb can add up quickly when eating nuts.) I think too much fruit is unfavorable because the sugar feeds the gut flora (and too much fructose is not a good thing, according to much that I’ve learned).

      Dr. Atkins, of the famous Atkins Diet, used to say that people misunderstood his low-carb advice and, in fact, he ate more vegetables than most vegetarians. I think a gut rebuild, grain avoidance, low-glycemic vegetables, and a general lifestyle that avoids foods favorable to the unhealthy gut flora is a solid starting point.

  43. Hi, I am encouraged by the information you have presented here regarding acid reflux and elimination wheat from the diet. I have been diagnosed with Gerd and have had an endoscopy. I have been on Protonix for 60 days, and had a good reaction to it initially but now am experiencing a sore throat and reflux in my throat after eating. I really want to get off the Protonix. I started the wheat free diet 2 days ago. When and how in your opinion should I discontinue the Protonix? I take a good quality probiotic every day. Thanks for your help…

    • The more I’ve learned, the more I realize just how vital, and unique, our gut flora is. Figuring out your ideal path back to digestive health isn’t something I could predict. For me, it took it took a few weeks of an improved diet and probiotics before my symptoms abated. Even then, it was a bit of a roller coaster as things settled back to normal. Granted, I was taking the PPI much longer than 60 days.

  44. Hey rocky tnx soo much for sharing with us abt ur story.. i hv this burping and breathlessness and squeezing feeling just beside my heart area..i really dnt know if its a GERD or other illnesses.. its been 2 mths..
    But just now was the worse.. i was driving n i had to stop for 3 times just to catch my breath.. and it affects my head.. i tend to feel lightheaded like ur on a boat swinging left to right… N it makes me sooo weak. I hv to burp just to catch my breath.. I even went to the cardiologist to check my heart it turns out normal.. i even went to the hospital they say my blood test and xray for lungs all normal. But i haven’t see the colostomy yet. But i need to know if wht im having right now is really a GERD or other sickness.. i really in need of help right now. Excuse my english is nt tht good..

    • I certainly can’t diagnose anyone, especially remotely. Your symptoms sound like GERD to me and I’m glad to hear that your cardiologist said your heart was normal. Have you tried changing your diet to remove items that many report as causing reflux, such as wheat and other trigger foods? If possible, finding a physician who is skilled at optimizing your gut flora and digestion might be of help. Good luck to you!

  45. I just wanted to say thanks for posting this article so long ago and so thoughtfully replying to everyone who has written with concerns. While I don’t have a question for you now I may later… In any case thanks so much for shining a light in the vastness of the net for us folk with Gerd.

  46. Hi Rocky..thanks for your thoughtful post. I’ve had reflux for 14 years, the only symptom is burn. Sometimes refluxing undigested good. I know it’s acid because the cough will immediately stop after I have baking soda with water. I started the 2 – 3 day fast today. I’m using Bluebonnet organic super earth Vegie Protein..vanilla. I also bought L-Glutamine powder. My question is how many glasses of this stuff is good throughout the day to be beneficial? And should I supplement 1 tsp of the glutamine powder each time? Thanks Terri

    • I honestly couldn’t tell you how much is ideal for you. It’s been a while since I did this but I think I just had a protein shake in the place of each meal and maybe one more if I was hungry. And, as for the probiotics, I’ve read that the body does most of its repair while sleeping, so yes I would take them while fasting but also consider skewing them towards bedtime so that they’re in your system while you’re asleep.

  47. Thanks! That helps a lot. I pray the Lord’s Blessings on you and Family. Hope this Resurrection Sunday is very Special for you! sincerely, Terri

  48. Your story is interesting Rocky, but I have the opposite problem, maybe cause I have a Hernia.
    If I go low carb, i.e. fat and meat and veg diet then I have loads of reflux, why? Cause bread, rice, potatoes i.e. carbs absorb water which means it absorbs acid and in this environment that is less ‘wet’ there is less of sloshy environment hence less reflux, fat also weakens the LES and slows transit time so sloshy soup stays in your stomach for longer allowing more chance of reflux, add to that the fact of constipation on many low carb diets then you add intra abdominal pressure into the equation, i.e. by straining at stool it causes pressure on the LES and more chance to reflux, Ive been Gluten free for a few years and dairy free cause I get allergy symptoms when eating these two.
    Been on Prilosec for 22yrs also, Ive tried coming off them but get awful rebound so I may try the switching to a H2 blocker and herbs/supplements to help wean off.

  49. I highly doubt wheat is an actual “cause” of acid reflux. I came down with GERD following a stomach flu but I am celiac so was already gluten-free when I got this illness. Most people who have this it is an anatomical problem….

    • I’m sure wheat isn’t the only cause of acid reflux, of course. A dramatic disruption of the intestinal flora is certainly a primary factor, moreso than an anatomical problem. Considering the skyrocketing rates of acid reflux over the past 20 years or so, do we really think hundreds of millions of people suddenly experienced a change in their anatomy? Diet, medications, and environmental factors are far more likely the culprit.

  50. Hi Rocky:

    Thank you for continuing to help those of us who have issues. I see a GI doc in a couple of weeks, but believe I have maybe had silent reflux for some time, which in the last couple of months has caused a certain feeling of “throb” or “spasm” mid-sternum, and acutely, after post dental antibiotics, a feeling of heartburn (I’ve never had heartburn in my 58 years). My primary doc prescribed Protonix, which I did not take. The last few days I have experienced a lot of coughing and a feeling of reflux. I have been eating vegan completely and felt quite a bit better until a recent slipup after feeling better and now coughing fits again. My question: is sucrafalate something to avoid? I am almost certain GI doc is going to suggest/insist on PPI when I see him, but I wonder about anything else he might prescribe to heal any GI issues, if you know. Understandably, not asking for med. advice, just your opinion.

    • I’m so sorry that I didn’t respond sooner. For some reason your post went into the spam pile. How did id go with your doctor? The more and more I research the more I’ve come to believe that healing our microbiome/gut flora, combined with avoiding grains, especially wheat, is crucial to curing reflux. I just finished reading the book “Missing Microbes,” by Dr. Martin Blaser and it’s an eye opening argument against overuse of the antibiotics that we’re using today.

  51. Hello, I’ve had GERD for more than a month now, and I’ve been to the ER twice because of heart burn and difficulty of breathing. I recently got off my 2 week medication today, and it’s like the symptons are back after I ate lunch I experienced difficulty in breathing, I also felt lethargic, I chanced upon your post upon browsing for remedies and If I can retake the medications prescribed by my Doctor if ever symptons reoccur, I didn’t know that a healthy digestive system contributes to overall health, are you familiar with Yakult? can I take that as a probiotic? probiotics are limited here from where I come from. Thank you!

    • Yes, I’ve read a bit about Yakult. I see that they have a variety of formations, including some that are lower in sugar. I’ve found that moving my diet away from grains and other high-glycemic carbohydrates was of great help to my digestive process. If probiotics are unavailable to you, it seems that foods containing healthy bacterium are the only available option to you. Perhaps between those foods and additional diet change, you will see benefits.

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