Sunday, May 19, 2013

I Kissed Antacids Good-bye

I realized I had acid reflux 1 1/2 years ago.  I went to my doctor who always gives me samples and who sings in the same choir with my brother and thinks my brother is a hoot.  He told me to avoid acidic and fatty food, mint, chocolate, and caffeine.  He told me other things and I tried to follow them except for propping up the head of my bed. 

I took Nexium.  Then Prilosec.  I felt better for a few months. I wondered how taking drugs that dialed back my digestive juices could be helpful. 

I chewed gum several times a day and that helped stimulate digestive juices until my jaw showed signs of TMJ, a serious, expensive problem. 

I took more Prilosec.  And Zantac.  And started drinking gallons of aloe vera per Dr. Oz.  I tried not to stress as my mother advised me.

I love to eat and I love to cook and my eating mantra is NO DIETS and all things in moderation and I was/am so angry at God that this ailment is the thorn in my side.  On good days, I see possible spiritual lessons in the distance and I do not allow acid reflux to control my life.  On bad days, I am depressed at my first-world acid reflux problem and, well, you know all the bad things that happen when we are down in our pits.  It's ugly.


I am done with the antacids. DONE. I have made an about-face - I am stimulating my stomach acid! 

This is what happened:  I made sauerkraut last year because I'm always curious in the kitchen.  It was so easy that I started reading and studying Sandor Ellix Katz's book.  Rebecca pointed out a section on H. Pylori, and when I googled H. Pylori and acid reflux, I read this article.  And it made sense. 

I am following my gut (ha!) and eating fermented food at every meal, plus taking a stomach acid pill occasionally at some meals (that would be HCl + pepsin), and downing some apple cider vinegar for heart-burn-ish symptoms.

I feel pretty good after two weeks. I feel pretty good, oh thank you God.  What I believe is that my American diet, even as healthy as I thought it was, slowly killed off my beneficial digestive bacteria.  I am colonizing new ones by eating live food like fermented foods, raw milk, unwashed organic vegetables, and filtered water.  I will avoid any CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operations) meat with its excessive antibiotics.  As a child, I took lots of antibiotics - we all did - for slight colds and other viruses.  I had already shunned antibacterial soap at our house, and I'm afraid I'm going to get dogmatic on the subject of hand sanitizer:  YOU MAY NOT USE THAT CRAP BECAUSE IT KILLED MY DIGESTIVE TRACT.  WE NEED OUR FRIENDLY LITTLE BACTERIA!!!  My husband gets a worried look when I talk like this and I do try to tone it down because I don't want to judge BUT IF THERE'S A SINK AROUND, MY CHILD IS NOT GOING TO USE THAT PUMP BOTTLE OF HAND SANITIZER.  THIS IS NOT THE HOSPITAL ICU!!!  AND NO, THANK YOU, WE ARE NOT GOING TO USE HAND SANITIZER AT THE PETTING ZOO because (I'll stop shouting now) city kids need all the animal and dirt germs they can get.


I don't want people to think I'm lulu on this topic.  I was feeling lulu and lonely, but better in my body, so I kept on. And then the New York Times published this article by Michael Pollan.  I could hardly calm down after reading it!  I feel so vindicated, so justified, so gratifed.

I had a hard time writing this post.  This is a watershed moment in my life and I wanted to explain it, but it's so new yet that I don't have a lot of perspective.  I wanted there to be pictures, but I didn't know how to illustrate "watershed moment," so I used a bunch from a recent field trip to a farm with Ben.  Lots of germs.  Awesome.

So, that's enough for now.  I have more new food habits to share in future blog posts and, as always, I am happy to discuss questions and ideas in the comments.


You Can Call Me Jane said...

Oh, Margo. I'm so thankful you are finding relief! I struggle off and on with stomach issues and these kinds of problems really taint every aspect of life when they flare up. Celebrating with you and hoping you bulk up on those little buggers:-).

Hazel said...

Margo, I'm definitely with you on germs.

I trained as a nurse, and I think the over sanitisation of our homes has a lot to answer for. Another thing to watch for is Triclosan in toothpastes which is like hand sanitiser for the mouth.
These anti bacterials are also thought to be contributing to the increase in drug resistant bacterias. Constant low level assaults mean the bacteria come out stronger and ever more resistant.

I've bookmarked the articles to read later, but your explanation of them and the connections with your reflux makes sense.
Glad you're feeling better.

Jo said...

I LOVE the dirt theory! As a terribly lazy mother, my lackadaisical housekeeping, and preferred method of childcare - sending the children outside - is completely justified.
I grew up in a third world country as a missionary kid. We never wore shoes, played in the dirt, ate all sorts of dreadfully dirty foodstuffs straight from the market, and never got sick or had antibiotics.
I'm glad you are making yourself better - I am hoping to start making yoghurt and sourdough, and maybe, when brave, fermenting some sauerkraut, so that hopefully my family's good health will continue..

Zoë said...

I'm only part-way through Michael Pollan's article but i'm loving it. I've always believed that dirt was good and it's lovely to have to evidence backing that up.

I would love to know all of the fermented food that you eat every day. Care to share in the future?

Rebecca said...

AMEN! (You need never yell alone, tootsie.)

Margo said...

Thank you for all the lovely support, dear readers :)

Zoe, I'm going to blog more about each of those foods, etc., but it was too much for one post. Stay tuned!

Wilde Family said...

I had to laugh about the hospital ICU comment. I have thought as you wrote for a long time. Then my son was born with a heart defect and while waiting for his heart surgery, our home had to be almost up to ICU standards while we were quarantined from the world. Thankfully his heart surgery was successful and a year later we are getting back into normal dirt again for our 18 month old.

Dianna said...

I read the Pollan article from you link on Pinterest last night and it was so interesting—and it rings true for me. It seems to me that my friends who keep the cleanest houses (and children) have families who get sick the most. So do they keep so clean because they always get sick or do they always get sick because they keep so clean? I still wonder.

Lisa said...

I'm going to print that article so I can read it more carefully and refer to it - great stuff! I knew some of it, but not all. I've been inching toward sourdough - you've pushed me over the edge. I think I'll also make yogurt and try sauerkraut when I can get myself together.

I'm so glad you've found a "cure"!

nancy said...

Good articles and ideas! I'll try some...

jenny_o said...

Pollan's article is fascinating. I look forward to further research in this area. So glad you're finding relief; an upset stomach colours everything else we do. I agree with the ban on hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial everything!

Rhonda Spencer said...

The New Yorker ran an article back in December that blew my mind (mentioning HPyrori -sp?- specifically, amongst other things bacterial). As an elementary teacher, I've resisted the push to give all of my students a squirt of anti-bacterial hand-sanitizer just before they eat their lunches. How disgusting is that, to put something so robustly artificial all over yourself before you eat?! The research is in its infancy, but we have so much knowledge to look forward to. I'll be reading your posts with great interest.

Eva Girl said...

Amen Sister! You preach it! My mother used to talk about "healthy dirt" and "boosting the immune system" when we kids would touch questionable animals/eachother/etc...she meant it jokingly, but she had a point! I guess that's about how I feel too : )

Jennifer Jo said...

I think I need to up my kids' street food intake.

Sew Blessed Maw said...

Margo, thank you so much for sharing these articles. I will definitely be reading all of them. I too, have this acid reflux battle..[it is awful].. Hope to find help.. so will be watching each post..thank you.
I was raised in the country and we definitely played in dirt and got bacteria, ha. But.. think I needed more.ha
Can't wait to see, what fermented foods you eat each day.. Will you leave off meat??

Shaunaleee said...

Jo, I feel just the same as you... vindicated! We use no anti-bacterial products in our house, and though my kids don't have the most diverse of diets, as Michael Pollan advises, they are rarely sick and have not needed antibiotics. When the occasional cold strikes, we wash hands and swab community items like remotes with rubbing alcohol. I firmly believe exposure to germs is essential for building a healthy immune system. I hope as my kids grow older and their taste buds mature, that I can introduce them to the joys of diverse foods, and all the healthy bacteria that comes with it! Margo, I too am interested in knowing more about the fermented foods you eat. Thanks!

Polly said...

I love this! I am so happy you've found some relief! I hope and pray it continues!

I am very fascinated by: 1) your inclusion of fermented foods at each meal (!) (does yogurt count?) and 2) your apple cider vinegar habit. My new neighbor uses unpasteurized apple cider vinegar and honey in a sort of mixture of warm water and takes it each day (the New Mennonite Neighbor). She's pregnant and says it helps her feel so much better. I'm intrigued.

Please write more about this!

I can't wait to read the Pollan article, after the little people are in bed. I have loved everything he has written.

I am 100% with you on the antibacterial nonsense. I have been fussed at by a medical professional for NOT using anti-bacterial stuff or hauling around the hand-sanitizer. But we're a pretty healthy bunch, and we watch our hands with soap and warm water.....and live in the country. Germ central.

BLD in MT said...

Yay for germs and fermentation! Down with handsanitizer! I am with you. We're making ourselves sick with our fixation on cleanliness. I sure hope this helps your acid reflux. I had heartburn once last week and was so miserable I can't imagine if it was daily. Continue to feel better, you wonderful lulu, you!

Beth in the City said...

Thanks for posting! I'm so glad you are finding relief and I marked this post so I can come back again later to read the links. I need to learn more about this stomach stuff! I've long joked about a little dirt being good for the immune system, and I'm not even kidding. I ditched anti-bacterial soap a while ago, and use hand sanitizer rarely. Like when I really think I need it for something officially dirty.

country life said...

Thank you for posting this! I was really sick 14 years ago and when blood work came back it had H Pylori along with the usual things I ask my Dr he said not to worry about it (that time of my life working lots of hours eating fast food always on the run). A few months ago I was diagnosed with acid reflux. I have been wanting to start kombucha for years! Now I need to find a source :) I have been drinking kefur, now I know why it seems to make me feel better! So glad I ran across you blog yesterday!


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