Severe heartburn, bland paleo?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 08, 2013 at 9:00 PM

Hi all:

Before I started paleo about 3 months ago, I was having severe heartburn problems. I had been on HB medication for nearly two years. Before starting paleo I had an upper endoscopy and the Doc found severe inflammation and irritation of my stomach lining and some bleeding ulcers. I had my gallbladder out previously, so she put me on MORE HB medication. My daughter convinced my try paleo and I was able to go off the new $100./month medication within a few weeks. I've lost 13 lbs and I'm eating foods, such as bacon, that used to give me severe heartburn.

However, now it is returning. I haven't really changed anything, but I've known from the start that I'm probably not eating enough. We do eat a lot of read meat and chicken, eggs and veggies. Any insight would be appreciated as well as some bland recipes. All of the recipes I have are so spicy it's killing me! Thanks so much!

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6 Answers


on August 21, 2013
at 12:01 PM

If you're unlucky, like me, it could be genetic and there's not a thing your diet can do about it. I've been dealing with it since my young teens, it runs in the family, and I have tried all sorts of crazy diets to help combat it (I even tried being vegan...). The end result for me is nothing works. I have been told that once I drop my excess weight it MIGHT get better, but as for now it doesn't matter what foods I eat the heartburn will be there if I don't take Protonix every day. Definitely don't let it continue though. I learned that lesson from a family member who ignored their heartburn and used Rolaids to combat it. The end result was esophageal cancer, so since I have that in my family tree I take my acid reflux quite seriously.

I really wish I had some recipe ideas for you to try, but I don't, so I thought I'd at least offer a bit of my personal experience with the matter. Hopefully yours is mainly food induced.


on June 10, 2013
at 01:13 AM

I had a bad case of gastroenteritis a few months ago that I got through with a whole lot of ground turkey, spinach, swiss chard, rice and sweet potatoes, scrambled eggs for breakfast. Totally bland but it's got enough nutrition to keep you going.



on June 10, 2013
at 12:32 AM

A low FODMAP diet prevents heartburn in most people. Cut out (or greatly limit) onion and garlic (and associated powders), industrial thickeners (like guar gum), and grains (especially wheat). Research what other foods contain FODMAPS. (Basically, anything you eat that you don't make yourself from scratch will be a problem.)

Results take a few days and are dependent on how strict you are. Taking betaine HCL 20 minutes before a meal should help accelerate results. I find a probiotic helps too, but only when taken apart from meals and when reflux is already under control.



on June 08, 2013
at 09:31 PM

Hi there, sorry to hear of your troubles.

I think eating paleo long term could be a great solution....

I personally am eating for muscle mass gain at the moment and so my diet is very bland! I just roast chicken and eat this 5 times a day with sales/veg. I also eat meatballs which i make by just mixing minced beef/pork with onion and a couple of eggs...It is bland but it's healthy and it helps me! Maybe try them! I also make homemade beef burgers, and patties which are nice! Maybe invest in some paleo cookery books off ebay/amazon! Or search online there are over 81,000 paleo recipes i believe so i doubt you will struggle :)

Is this any help??


on August 22, 2013
at 02:54 PM

Generally, I would recommend to try Betaine HCL/Digestive Enzymes, but HCL is not a great idea in case of stomach ulcers. I would suspect that the HB medication eliminated the last bit of stomach acid you had and you might have had low stomach acid to begin with, since in case of heartburn there often is too little stomach acid and not too much. Taking HB medications only lowers stomach acid even further, because if you don't have stomach acid, there can't be heartburn.

Unfortunately, this also means the stomach is not protected anymore (from things like H. Pylori), you might get ulcers and of course protein digestion is especially impaired, because you need stomach acid to digest protein and you also need it to signal subsequent digestive steps. Given that you had your gallbladder removed you are probably already taking bile salts as a supplement.

The reason overeating will cause GERD might be because of a low level of stomach acid, which will interfere with larger amounts of protein and your removed gall bladder interferes with larger amounts of fat. You therefore should have less problems tolerating carbohydrates (at least in terms of GERD) compared to protein or fat.

In case you don't have stomach ulcers anymore, you might consider Betaine HCL and/or Digestive Enzymes, but then you should definitely get your stomach checked after a while to make sure the HCL does not cause a problem. And because of your medical history I would not start with Betaine HCL without supervision and regular check-ups. You could also do a Heidelberg test to determine your level of stomach acid. If I were you, I would also consider changing my doctor.

You might also want to read "Why Stomach Acid Is Good for You: Natural Relief from Heartburn, Indigestion, Reflux and GERD" by Jonathan Wright.


on August 22, 2013
at 02:14 PM

Thanks for the answers! My heartburn is much better. I continue to eat bland foods and I have learned that as soon as I feel full, I need to stop eating. Overeating at a meal almost always causes GERD.

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