Started Paleo - now I have heartburn!

Answered on August 27, 2013
Created June 03, 2013 at 3:17 AM

I am about a week into the Paleo diet. I am not overweight and am generally very healthy. I'm trying it out to stop my bread/cereal dependency and overall improve my diet. I've been feeling so much better, except for the fact that I've been experiencing really bad heartburn for the past 24 hours after eating grass fed ground beef (first time I've had red meat since I started paleo). I think I've had heartburn once before after drinking too much coffee. I've always eaten meat, but now I'm eating a little bit more than what I'm used to.

Is this typical ever? Does it go away? Is Paleo not right for me? Any thoughts would be helpful.




on June 04, 2013
at 06:43 PM

Thanks! I've done some research and 'they' say that if you aren't used to eating a lot of red meat and fatty foods (which I am not), then it's really important to eat high amounts of veggies and fruit when you're adding the other foods in to avoid heartburn. I've found that that eating a couple of bites of some fruit will stop the heartburn (strangely!) and that also eating lots of vegetables at every meal will help prevent it. It's all a balancing act, right?



on June 03, 2013
at 09:04 AM

Heartburn can be a sign of low stomach acid resulting in SIBO. Depending on how bad and prolonged it is you may wish to investigate the recommendations of the SCD and GAPS diets, especially regarding complex carbohydrates. A short term remedy is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) that is taken before a meal and can boost your stomach acid level. If you've not eaten red meat for a long time your digestive system might not have the acid levels and bacteria to fully digest it and could lead to bloating that results in heartburn.

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3 Answers



on August 27, 2013
at 11:29 AM

I started paleo because I had bad acid reflux, and it temporarily made it worse,until I took out not just grains, but also cow dairy. Turns out both grains and dairy were triggers for me, and even now, if I get cow dairy, I can get a mild form of reflux, where as if I get glutened, I get very bad reflux.

I had low stomach acid, because I took PPIs to get rid of the heartburn, but it turns out that when you have low stomach acid, very bad things happen, including heartburn, and an inability to absorb minerals and proteins, and can open a pathway to infection as we need those high levels of acid to kill off bad bacteria in foods. When this starts to get resolved, stomach acid goes up some, but not enough to stop the heartburn.

Once it reaches normal levels, the heartburn stops. In my case, I also had another confounding factor - I had my gall bladder removed some years back, which meant that I had very poor digestion. It turned out that I needed to take a digestive enzyme before each meal. These contain betaine HCL and oxbile. If you've had your gallbladder out, you should do the same.

The amount varies from person to person, and it may change as your health improves, and you vary your level of fats. (I take Now Superenzymes capsules, about 4-5 before large meals.) To test how much you'd need, on an empty stomach, take one pill at a time, slowly, upto 5 and put your hand above your stomach - when you feel a bit of heat, stop, that's the dose. If you've reached 5, you should also stop. You should eat immediately after you take the pills, and once the test is over.

If that's not the case for you and you still have your gallbladder, you'd only need some betaine HCL, without the oxbile, until your heartburn goes away, then you can slowly take away the betaine HCL capsules.

As your digestion improves, the stomach acid will go up and the heart burn will go away, but you may temporarily or long term want to also supplement with minerals such as magnesium, zinc, iodine, potassium, as these are required for many functions, but also include digestion.

Modern foods are depleted of some of these, especially magnesium and iodine, so you might want to continue supplementing those. Zinc, we can get from shellfish, especially mussels and clams; iodine is found in shrimp and fish and seaweed.


on July 30, 2013
at 08:22 AM

There will be an adjustment period when you switch to the paleo diet, whether it is from the decrease in carbs, increase in meat/veg/fat. GI distress, in its various forms, is common. Give yourself a week (or three) to fully reap the benefits of paleo, depending on how much wheat/grain/carb you were eating before. It should get better after some time.


on June 03, 2013
at 03:24 AM

Maybe it's the change in your diet since you've adjusted your intake a little differently. I don't have much expertise or experience in this, but I think you should give it a little time and see how your body adapts or reacts to paleo.

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