You Thought Dark Chocolate Was Good For You –> This Is What You Didn’t Know

  • March

    DARK CHOCOLATE HAS BEEN the queen of healthy junk food for the last decade. With its significant amounts of fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium, what can’t it do?

    • Feigning for something sweet, but you’re on a diet? CHOCOLATE!
    • Have a heart condition, high cholesterol or high blood pressure? CHOCOLATE!
    • Suffering from obesity, diabetes and cravings? CHOCOLATE!
    • Stressed out at work, home, or on the road? CHOCOLATE!
    • PMS pains got you grumpy and frustrated? CHOCOLATE!
    • Forgot your breakfast and lunch? CHOCOLATE!
    • Meeting the in-laws and forget to bring a gift? CHOCOLATE!

    When eaten at 70% or higher, it seems to be good for almost everything!

    However, there is one condition where chocolate can make you more sick… and it’s not if you are allergic to it.


    Acid reflux is also termed heartburn and GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease). It causes chest pain, sore throat and a burning sensation to the stomach, throat and sometimes mouth.

    Common sense would suggest that acid reflux is due to too much stomach acid, however it can also be due to too little stomach acid, obstruction of the upper bowels or a weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

    Foods that can weaken the LES include:

    • Fish oil (dietary and supplementary)
    • Tomatoes
    • Citrus fruits and juices (orange, lemon, lime, etc.)
    • Peppermint
    • Alcohol
    • Nicotine
    • Caffeine
    • Some medications (ie. SSRI, hormonal treatments)
    • And YES…. Chocolate

    Chocolate has been shown to decrease lower esophageal sphincter (LES) pressure [1, 2]. There’s actually a term called,

    “Chocolate-Induced Reflux”

    The LES is the muscle that joins the esophagus to the stomach. It opens to allow food and drinks into the stomach, while closing to stop food and stomach acids from coming up. It opens and closes like a purse-string, similar to your lips when you pucker them.

    If the LES is weak, it allows the contents in the stomach (ie. food and digestive enzymes) to splash back and cause irritation. Similarly, if there is high pressure in the stomach from a small intestine obstruction or even small intestinal bowel overgrowth (SIBO), it can weaken the LES.

    If not treated properly acid reflux can cause damage to the delicate mucosal membrane and potentially lead to ulcers and cancer. It’s important to avoid trigger foods, eat in a relaxed state and chew your foods thoroughly.

    Too much or too little stomach acid?

    How do you know if you have too much or too little if the symptoms are the same?

    If your symptoms are mild, likely you won’t want to go to the doctor’s office for a check-up because you keep thinking that it will just ‘go away on it’s own’.

    Well, lucky for you, there’s a test that you can do at home that only required one common ingredient – Apple Cider Vinegar


    1. Swallow 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
    2. If you experience no burning or sensations, you are probably have hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid) and need to increase your stomach acid levels by subsequently adding 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar each day until you reach 6 tbsp/d or a slight burning sensation arises.
    3. If no symptoms arise, maintain that dose per day and only decrease by 1 tbsp/d unless burning is felt.

    If you experience extreme burning and irritation with just 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar then you likely have hyperchlorhydria (excess stomach acid).

    Ensure that the burning pain you experience is not a heart condition or peptic ulcer by going to your family doctor and having the appropriate tests run.

    What To Do If I Have Low Stomach Acid?

    • Continue dosing 1 – 6 tbsp of apple cider vinegar per day if no burning sensations felt
    • Take digestive enzymes after bigger meals
    • Eat more pineapple and papaya for their natural bromelain and papain enzymes
    • Chew your food more thoroughly
    • Be mindful when you eat. Start by taking 3 deep breathes before a meal and really smell your food. Your nose is the first step in digestion funny enough because it triggers salivary secretions of the mouth and digestive enzyme release from the pancreas
    • Abdominal massage to encourage gastric secretions
    • Stress management: meditation, deep breathing, gratitude, etc.

    What To Do If I Have High Stomach Acid?

    • Avoid acidic foods (vinegar, citrus fruits and meats), smoking, carbonated beverages and food triggers (spicy food, pineapple, papaya, chocolate, tomatoes, alcohol, caffeine, etc) for 1 week and re-assess intensity of discomfort
    • Start dosing 1-2 tsp of sodium bicarbinate (aka. baking soda) in a full glass of water per day
    • Eat smaller meals and foods that are easy to digest (ie. smoothies)
    • Drink lots of water
    • Be mindful when you eat. Start by taking 3 deep breathes before a meal
    • Stress management: meditation, deep breathing, gratitude, etc.
    • Eat a few hours before bed
    • Don’t lie down immediately after eating
    • Sleep more and with your head slightly elevated
    • Weight loss, moderate exercise
    • Abdominal and upper body massage to relieve gastric pressure and stress
    • Acid suppression pharmaceutical agents (Proton pump inhibitor H2-receptor antagonist, antacid calcium carbonate, etc)

    Acid reflux can be very uncomfortable and stressful when eating at restaurants or parties. It can also ruin intimate evenings when you’re doubled over in pain.

    Heartburn can be confused with peptic ulcers, musculoskeletal issues, serious heart conditions and lung conditions. If you have been experiencing chronic discomfort, notice any bleeding from the mouth or stool (black coffee ground poo) or cannot find a pattern of causes for your pain, please see a medical doctor immediately.

    If you’ve been on acid suppressing pharmaceuticals for some time now and wish to come off of them or switch to a more natural approach, visit a Naturopathic doctor. Never self-prescribe or abruptly stop medications as they body has become reliant on the drugs and will need a period of weaning off and reintroduction of alternative therapies.

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    1. Murphy DW, Castell DO. Chocolate and heartburn: evidence of increased esophageal acid exposure after chocolate ingestion. Am J Gastroenterol. 1988 Jun;83(6):633-6. [link]

    2. Wright LE, Castell DO. The adverse effect of chocolate on lower esophageal sphincter pressure. Am J Dig Dis. 1975 Aug;20(8):703-7. [link]


This website is NOT to be used as a diagnostic or treatment tool. Always consult with your Conventional Medical Doctor or Naturopathic Doctor for specific concerns. In cases of medical emergencies visit your nearest hospital or call 9-1-1.