Chronic indigestion, a very common symptom, is also referred to as acid reflux, chronic heartburn, acid indigestion, and gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). In this condition, gastric juices from the stomach back up into the esophagus. This can cause great discomfort and eventually can damage the tissue with an increased incidence of esophageal ulcer or cancer.
The backing up of gastric juices can be due to a true hiatal hernia, but this is rare. Much more often, causes include overeating, overweight, excess stress, alcohol, inadequate chewing, spicy foods, excess sugar, smoking, overuse of antacids, prescription drugs that inhibit gastric juice production, carbonated beverages, estrogen replacement therapy (ERT), and hydrochloric acid deficiency. Other causes include lying down after eating, fatty and fried foods, swallowing too much air when chewing, poor food combinations, aspirin and NSAID usage, gall bladder problems, enzyme or vitamin deficiencies, tight-fitting clothing, and food allergies/intolerances.
Symptoms can range from mild and occasional to severe and frequent and may include: regurgitation, angina-like pain, difficulty swallowing, belching, gas, bloating, shortness of breath, sore throat, nausea, chronic cough, and a sense of fullness.
The underlying causes of indigestion can also prevent stomach acid from breaking down minerals. This, in turn, can cause a wide array of physical and “mental” symptoms. For all these reasons, you’ll want to consider observing the following keys to optimal stomach function.
- primarily eat the real food diet
- follow food combining principles
- chew your food thoroughly
- have a natural health care evaluation
- take digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid if necessary
- drink fluids with your meals
- take pharmaceutical drugs that decrease gastric juice strength
- eat too much at one time
- lay down shortly after eating
- eat sugar except small amounts occasionally
The “Real Food Diet” includes healthfully raised and chemical-free foods that homosapiens have eaten throughout time: meat, eggs, vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruit and pure water. Anything else, dairy and grain products for example, are more recent dietary additions and often cause indigestion. You may or may not be able to eat quality sources of moderate amounts of these foods. Junk and overly processed foods are obviously something you don’t want.
If you suffer with chronic indigestion, try the following tried and true food combining principles:
- avoid eating heavy proteins and carbohydrates together, e.g., meat and potatoes
- make your meal either a protein meal (meat or eggs and vegetables) or a carbohydrate meal (legumes, brown rice, quinoa, millet, or rice pasta and vegetables)
- eat fruit alone, about 20 minutes before the rest of your meal
When you chew your food thoroughly, the stomach can fully digest its contents more quickly and send it off to the small intestine. If you wolf your food down, the stomach can’t do it’s job and you’re more likely to have gastric contents back up into the esophagus.
After 40 years in healthcare, there are two natural treatments that are most effective in preventing and reversing chronic indigestion. Specific chiropractic adjustments ensure a proper nerve supply from the brain to the stomach. A nutrition-based healing method evaluates if any deficiencies are contributing to indigestion. For example, an imbalanced or weak pituitary gland can affect the gastric juice levels in the stomach. These methods include: Nutrition Response Testing, System Strength Analysis, Applied Kinesiology, Contact Reflex Technique, Bio-Meridian and Stressor Nutrient Balancing.
Whole, raw foods contain enzymes that help break down foods. However, these living enzymes are deficient or absent in the diet of many people. Many people, especially over age 60, are deficient in gastric juice acidity. That means they need more, not less, acid in the stomach. If you develop indigestion shortly after eating, you may need supplements for one or both of these. Multizyme and Zypan from Standard Process are great products; these are only available from a licensed healthcare professional.
Drinking too much fluid, even water, with your meals can dilute the gastric juices and directly cause indigestion. Drink some water about 15 minutes before your meal. Sip a little water during your meal if you must. Then wait an hour or two after your meal before consuming much water. Your stomach will thank you for it.
You should, of course, discuss this topic with your medical and natural healthcare practitioners. A number of prescription drugs cause lowered production of hydrochloric acid. This, as you now know, directly interferes with optimal digestion. Over-the-counter drugs such as antacids also sop up gastric acid and prevent normal stomach function. There are much better ways to handle indigestion.
Eating too much at one time is a common cause of indigestion and other stomach symptoms. Stop eating before you feel full since complete satiety takes about 30 minutes to register. You aren’t going to starve to death. Take care of your body and don’t stuff more into your stomach than it is designed to hold.
A valve called the cardiac sphincter opens and closes to let food move from the esophagus into the stomach. When you lay down after a full meal, the digesting contents of the stomach can push against this valve. Liquids from the stomach may then leak through the valve, up the esophagus, and cause that familiar heartburn and reflux. To prevent this, eat dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime.
Sugar is bad for your physical and mental health in many ways, including causing indigestion. Too much sugar with your meal inhibits gastric juice production so the food just sits in the stomach fermenting like grapes turning into wine. The results? Excess gas in the form of belching, bad breath, indigestion and many other negative effects that you don’t want in your life.
Feeling, looking and being your very best isn’t that difficult, but it does require a little time, energy and money. If your car’s carburetor or fuel-injection system isn’t functioning normally, it can’t use gasoline properly. Similarly, you’ll want to ensure that your stomach is functioning properly for many important reasons. If you suffer with indigestion, or just want to be healthier, apply the tips above and notice the improvements.
The world needs your fullest gifts and you deserve to feel happy, healthy and energetic.