In Antacids – Part I, we covered the functions of stomach acid secretion, the importance of digestive enzymes, how heartburn occurs, and the end result of what often happens, from chronic use of commercial antacids to your system. While it is true that there is a small percentage of people who naturally produce too much stomach acid, the majority of people who suffer from heartburn, indigestion and GERD, do so because of poor lifestyle and diet habits. Therefore, the very first step to take in controlling, managing and reversing these conditions, is to change some of your lifestyle habits.
Before we get into lifestyle management and natural remedy options, it is important to note that you should never just disregard chronic indigestion or acid reflux symptoms. If your symptoms are ongoing, it is advisable to consult with your doctor, as unchecked GERD (gastroesophagal reflux disease) can lead to serious health problems such as esophagitis, esophageal bleeding, ulcer, strictures, and an increased risk of esophageal cancer.
Lifestyle Habits You Need To Manage
In addition to the essential need to follow a healthy nutrition plan, you’ll want to avoid foods that trigger your indigestion and acid reflux symptoms. The most common trigger foods are: chocolate, citrus fruits, vinegar, tomatoes, garlic, fried foods, spicy foods, black pepper, carbonated beverages, citrus juices, tomato juice, raw onions, peppermint, coffe and alcoholic beverages. Keep in mind that this is just a list of the most common trigger foods, and your list of trigger foods may have more or less.
Don’t eat like a snake. In other words, practice the art of chewing your food. Digestion starts in the mouth, and your all-important digestive juices that are needed to properly assimilate your food, start flowing when you start chewing. The more you chew, the more digestive juices get into the mix to do their job. Try to chew each mouthful at LEAST 10 times. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but count how many times you actually chew something before swallowing the next time you eat, and you’ll quickly see how rarely you actually properly chew your food.
Do NOT eat within 3 hours before going to bed. Even better, try to eat your evening meal 4 hours before going to bed. You always want to go to bed on an empty stomach. And this also means DON’T lay down on the couch after dinner either. You want to keep your body upright for proper digestion to occur.
A survey reveals that 58% of unknown heartburn frequencies, are results of a hectic lifestyle. Moreover, 52% have revealed that the stress comes from their work environment and activities. This is because heartburn and indigestion can be logically linked with stress due to wrong diet, smoking, drinking coffee, and drinking alcohol, which in addition to often being a part of many people’s regular work lifestyle, are also considered heartburn triggers. It is essential that you schedule fun and relaxation into your lifestyle calendar. If you refuse to slow down and smell the roses regularly, your body is only going to take so much, and slowly (or quickly), it’s going to rebel by bringing about dis-ease, sickness and imbalance, which will eventually FORCE you to slow down, and unfortunately this usually means in bed or in the hospital.
If you are a smoker, then you will most likely experience heartburn. This is because an active ingredient of cigarettes, known as nicotine, weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, which is the muscle that allows the esophagus to prevent acidic contents in your stomach from entering your esophagus. Therefore, quitting smoking will always give you some level of immediate heartburn relief.
Natural Remedies To Help Acid Reflux, Heartburn And Indigestion
Take 1/4 C Aloe Vera Juice (not gel) 10 minutes before each meal. The juice not only soothes mucous membranes, but also acts as a healing agent for the lower esophageal sphincter.
According to many natural health experts, including Dr. Patricia Bragg, apples are great acid neutralizers, and a perfect treatment option for those who prefer natural remedies. Apples contain malic and tartaric acids, which naturally neutralize stomach acids. Eat 1-2 organic apples daily, to heal and reverse your symptoms.
Slippery Elm was once one of the most popular remedies for heartburn and sore throat used in North America. This particular herb was even part of the compendium drug standard list in the United States of Pharmacopoeia, up until the 1960’s. (Perhaps that is when they found it more profitable to produce a lab pharmaceutical to replace slippery elm?) Slippery elm is often one of the main ingredients in herbal throat lozenges, readily found in health food stores and markets.
Like slippery elm, herbal marshmallow is a great remedy for acid reflux, and is also known to soothe the irritated esophageal area. Both slippery elm and herbal marshmallow contain mucilage, that coat the lining of the esophagus, protecting it from further irritation.
Note: For those with diabetes, herbal marshmallow does contain higher levels of sugar, so please consult with your doctor or naturopath before using.
Calcium and magnesium are essential minerals for digestive tract healing to occur. The best type to take for acid-burning symptoms is calcium-magnesium powder. It is a natural antacid, thereby soothing the heartburn associated with GERD and acid reflux.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, which are vital to the health of the intestinal tract.
Omega-3 fatty acids have profound anti-inflammatory healing properties, and have been shown to significantly reduce the risk and ravaging health effects of inflammatory processes of the digestive tract. Adding Flax Seed oil or ground flax seed to your daily diet, will do wonders in soothing the cellular inflammation of your digestive system.
Cover Your Nutrient Requirements
The nutrients found in liquid vitamin / mineral supplements are highly absorb-able, great tasting and essential for the health and healing of your digestive system. One of the key factors to reversing GERD, acid reflux and indigestion issues, is to maintain a proper acid / alkaline pH balance within the body, and liquid vitamin/mineral supplements help to do just that.
Just like Type II Diabetes, there are many preventative measures, such as lifestyle adjustments and nutrition balancing, as well as natural therapies to help you overcome this troublesome and painful infliction. By taking responsibility for any bad habits that may be contributing to your condition, and implementing the strategies mentioned above, you can do much to reduce and even eliminate acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion from your life.
Bon Veggie Appetit!
Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews