Address your indigestion, heartburn or acid reflux, naturally, and reduce your reliance on antacids.
Indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux have become extremely common symptoms. We live in stressful times and many of us are eating ‘on the hoof’ due to time constraints – this creates a build-up of fermentative and putrefactive gases in the digestive system, causing unpleasant symptoms. In addition, the ageing process means the production of certain digestive enzymes can begin to slow down – again, compromising our natural digestive processes.
If you suffer from indigestion, heartburn or acid reflux, a visit your GP is recommended. You may be offered a prescription medication known as a Proton Pump Inhibitor or PPI – so-called because it ‘switches off’ the pump that produces stomach acid. As is the case with many prescription drugs, there is a trade-off to be made in using them. PPIs are effective in preventing the acid from migrating out of your stomach and burning your oesophagus and throat, because they reduce the acid in your stomach to almost zero. However, that acid is produced in your stomach for a reason – to help prevent any pathogens (bacteria and/or parasites) from getting through your stomach and into your gut (they are destroyed by the acid in your stomach). If you don’t produce the acid, you are at greater risk of developing parasitic infections in your intestines, and bacterial infections – the most serious and life-threatening being clostridium difficile. Stomach acid also assists in the breakdown and digestion of food.
Before starting on a course of medication, therefore, you might like to try some of these tips for improving digestion, to see if they either eliminate or reduce your symptoms.
What to eat to help digestion – and what not to eat
- Choose foods that already contain natural digestive enzymes and can help with digestion: raw carrots, pineapples, papaya and green leafy vegetables.
- Try to eat mainly anti-inflammatory, low-acid forming foods, such as oily fish, vegetables and fruit, as well as natural yogurt, seeds and some nuts.
- Take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a small amount of water and swish it around your mouth before each main meal. This will help you to digest food.
- Limit your intake of acid-forming foods, such as red meat, alcohol and caffeine.
- Limit your intake of foods that hinder digestion such as highly processed foods containing sugar and additives.
- Do not drink carbonated water and carbonated soft drinks.
- If you are drinking in excess of the recommended limits for alcohol, reduce them to within normal limits – in fact consider eliminating all alcohol to allow the stomach to heal.
Supplements to strengthen your digestion
- Many people who take antacids have problems with bloating, excessive abdominal gas and abdominal pain. This is because taking a regular antacid creates an imbalance in our gut bacteria, leading to an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria and yeasts, creating excessive gases and bloating. I would recommend that anyone over the age of 50 who has weak digestion and is concerned that they are not fully absorbing nutrients from their food, or who has a history of taking antacid medication, to take my high-strength, multi-strain Live Bacteria (probiotic) supplement daily to re-establish healthy levels of “good” gut bacteria.
- I also recommend that anyone suffering indigestion take a plant-based digestive enzyme every time they eat. If you’re over the age of 50, it’s highly likely that your digestive system needs a helping hand. As we age, the production of certain digestive enzymes can begin to slow down. We need these enzymes to help break down our food into molecules small enough to be absorbed and transported as nutrients to ‘feed’ and nourish different systems and organs of the body. If we do not produce enough of these enzymes, then we need to consider supplementing with digestive enzymes to ensure that we are fully absorbing our nutrients. This is crucial to maintain good health in our later years. Try my plant-derived Digestive Enzymes with added calcium to support your digestion even further.
- You might like to try my Tummy Tea, blended with the herbs and spices that I use every day in my clinic, to aid digestion after every meal. A lighter alternative to black tea or coffee, it’s naturally caffeine-free, so perfect after your evening meal. Drink it daily for a little extra support for your digestion and to soothe you before bed-time.
Lifestyle tips for better digestion
- Make sure you are seated and relaxed before beginning to eat and do not eat standing up. Take time to look at and smell your food before eating as this will encourage production of digestive juices.
- Chew all your food thoroughly so that it is mixed with saliva to help begin the digestive process.
- Don’t eat large portions.
- Don’t drink water with your meals as this can dilute your digestive juices.
- Don’t smoke. The chemicals in cigarettes weaken the valve at the top of the stomach, allowing food and acid to flow out.
- Switch to caffeine-free coffee, tea, or try my caffeine-free Tummy Tea. Coffee can weaken the valve at the top of the stomach.
- Drink warm liquids before a meal such as warm water and lemon or a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in warm water.
- If indigestion, heartburn or acid reflux is waking you up in the night, you need to slightly elevate your upper body. Try two pillows instead of one and consider putting a couple of wooden blocks under the bed (at the head end of the bed only) to raise it slightly. This can help prevent the acid from flowing out of your stomach and keep it in situ.
- If, after trying the above measures, your symptoms do not improve, then consider booking in to see a registered colon hydrotherapist. The colonic treatment will help relieve trapped gases in the digestive system, relieving pressure on the stomach and intestines and allowing food and wastes to move through efficiently. This treatment can give immediate relief from bloating, pain, indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux.
- If your symptoms continue, it might be worth arranging a gastric acid test through a registered nutritional therapist who will assess your symptoms and devise a diet plan to meet your specific needs. Some people may suffer from low stomach acid, which can give rise to similar symptoms as indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux, and so it is important that this is established so that the right diet plan can be devised for you.