(GERD, Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease)
Indigestion or GERD may be described as “heartburn,” and is characterized by a feeling of gaseousness, acidity or burning on the chest or uncomfortable fullness after eating. It occurs when the esophageal sphincter relaxes and allows stomach contents to flow into the esophagus. Although excess stomach acid is sometimes a cause of indigestion, deficient stomach acid is a far more common cause, especially in people over age 60. Food allergies, hiatal hernia, gastric irritation, and ulcer can also cause stomach symptoms. It is important to see a physician if pain persists, is severe, or fails to respond to self-help measures.
DIET AND LIFESTYLE RECOMMENDATIONS
- Chew food thoroughly. This allows the digestive enzymes in saliva to thoroughly mix with food.
- Don’t eat when in a hurry or under great stress. This impedes digestion because blood is shunted away from the stomach by adrenaline. Have a light broth or vegetable juice under such circumstances.
- Don’t drink cold water with meals. For optimum digestion, have a modest amount of room temperature water (4-6 ounces) with meals.
- Maintain a normal weight. Overweight is the cause of much GERD because a fat belly puts pressure on the esophageal sphincter.
- Avoid coffee, tea, alcohol and carbonated beverages.
- Don’t smoke! The nicotine in tobacco relaxes the esophageal sphincter.
- Avoid the frequent use of antacids. Since most indigestion is caused by deficient digestive function, neutralization of stomach acid further compounds the problem.
- Maxi Multi: 3 caps, 3 times per day with meals. Many different nutrient deficiencies can lead to deficient stomach acid production. Untreated GERD can lead to esophageal cancer, but supplements high in antioxidants (A,C,E,selenium) have a protective effect.
- Similase: 1-2 caps, 3 times per day with meals. Use Gastric Complex instead, same dose, if you have a history or current diagnosis of stomach ulcer or if Similase causes discomfort. Digestive under-functioning, which allows undigested food to remain too long in the stomach, is a primary cause of GERD.
- DGL (licorice) chew 2 tabs, 20 minutes before meals. Licorice increases the protective mucous layer in the stomach.
- SupremaDophilus: 1 capsule at bedtime to nourish friendly gut bacteria.
- Support any organ systems that scored “high” on the self-health appraisal questionnaire (see pages 6-8 in your Holistic Health Handbook). Liver function is frequently deficient in chronic indigestion
DR. MYATT’S COMMENTS
Avoiding fried food and simple carbohydrates (sugars and starches) and improving digestion through the use of digestive enzymes helps a very high percentage of people with indigestion. This is opposite of the “going medical line” which encourages repetitive use of antacids and acid-neutralizers.
Be sure to perform a Low Gastric Acid Self-Test. Over half the population over age 60 is deficient in hydrochloric acid production. Chronic indigestion indicates that something is wrong —- diet, digestion, etc. You should not continue to take over-the-counter stomach medicines without seeing a doctor for correct diagnosis. Self-help measures are effective in all but a few cases.