We shout at the TV a lot.
Adverts drive us bonkers. If it's not the Actimel adverts promoting friendly gut bacteria (that contain high levels of sugar which bad bacteria feeds from) it's the cosmetic adverts promoting youth as if being a woman past 35 is something to be shameful of. And don't get me started on the shaving adverts...
But there is one advert that makes us fume above all others. And that's the acid ingestion / heartburn adverts.
Many of us know acid related indigestion, heartburn or dyspepsia from first-hand experience. The assumption is that there is always too much acid in the stomach. The adverts with the cartoon firemen soothing away the burning fire in our guts only reinforce that heartburn equals too much acid.
But here's the problem. Numerous studies show that the incidence of heartburn increases with age, while stomach acid levels generally decline with age. If heartburn were caused by too much stomach acid, we'd have a bunch of teenagers popping Gaviscon instead of the elderly. But the reverse is true.
What happens in the stomach is when food arrives, if the body does not have the correct levels of HCL or enzymes it panics and throws the little acid it does have to the top of the stomach which causes heartburn. Taking an acid suppressant only makes this situation worse.
According to Dr Wright, when stomach acid is measured in people suffering from heartburn it is almost always low, not high. In his book Why Stomach Acid is Good For You, Wright explains:
When we carefully test people over age forty who're having heartburn, indigestion and gas, over 90 percent of the time we find inadequate acid production by the stomach.
Our own clinical experience supports this. So far every client we see with heartburn or acid indigestion has responded well to enzyme or hydrochloric acid supplementation.
Hydrochloride is not our enemy. It plays an important part of our digestion as well as our immune system by destroying the harmful parasites and bacteria that are ingested with food. When people are on acid suppressants for a long time this can have serious immune, digestive implications as well as creating problems with small intestine absorption and lower bowel conditions like IBS.
Dr Emmanuel, Consultant Gastroenterologist at University College Hospital, London, said on a recent BBC Radio programme
'Suppressing acid so completely it can interfere with our digestive processes, with the way we absorb certain minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin B12, which is important for blood cells and nerve function but also minerals like calcium, which of course is a big issue in the Western world in terms of osteoporosis and risks of bone fracture.'
So what can you do if you're unsure whether you have low or high stomach acid. There are a few ways to explore this.
Try this home test with bicarbonate of soda or a home test with lemons. Alternatively you can come and see one of our practitioners who can identify whether you have an imbalance and recommend ways to correct it.
Oatmeal is just about the best breakfast and any-time-of-day snack recommended by Jamie Koufman, M.D., Jordan Stern, M.D. and French master chef Marc Bauer, authors of "Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure." It’s filling and doesn’t cause reflux. Even instant oatmeal with raisins is “legal” because the oatmeal absorbs the acidity of the raisins. More from Health.com: Are Too Many People Taking Heartburn Drugs? 7 Daily Habits That Can Halt Heartburn Surprising Heartburn Triggers
In moderation, ginger is one of the best foods for acid reflux. It has been used throughout history as an anti-inflammatory and as a treatment for gastrointestinal conditions. Ginger root can easily be peeled, sliced, diced or shaved using a grater. You can use it while cooking or add it to smoothies.
Aloe vera is famous as a natural healing agent and also seems to treat acid reflux. It is available as a living plant, but the leaves or liquid form are sometimes sold separately in groceries and health food stores. Aloe vera can be used in recipes as a thickener and for congealing liquids.
You could do worse than to eat a salad every day. Salad is a primary meal for acid refluxers, although tomatoes and onions should be avoided, as well as cheese and high-fat dressings. Dressings that have some acid or fat can be added, but only one tablespoon (or less) -- as measured, not guesstimated!
Bananas make a great snack, and at pH 5.6, they’re usually great for people with acid reflux. However, about 1 percent of acid refluxers find that their condition is worsened by bananas. So keep in mind that what works for most people may not work for you.
Melon (pH 6.1) is good for acid reflux. However, as with bananas, a small percentage (1 percent to 2 percent) of those with acid reflux need to avoid it. Also included in the good-for-reflux category are honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon.
Fennel (pH 6.9) is a great food for acid reflux and actually seems to improve stomach function. This crunchy vegetable has a unique taste -- a mild licorice flavor. Sliced thin (the white bottom part), it makes a healthy salad with arugula and baby spinach. It’s also great in chicken dishes, and makes a fine snack if you love the taste.
Poultry is a staple of The Reflux Diet. It can be boiled, baked, grilled, or sautéed (but not fried!), and you must remove the skin, which is high in fat.
Seafood is another staple of The Reflux Diet. It should be baked, grilled or sautéed, never fried. Shrimp, lobster and other shellfish are also fine on this diet. Wild fish, not the farm-raised variety, is recommended.
Cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, green beans and other greens are all great foods for the acid refluxer. Pretty much all of the green and the root vegetables are recommended for people following this diet.
Celery has almost no calories because of its high water content, and is a good choice if you have acid reflux. It is also an appetite suppressant and excellent source of roughage.
For thousands of years, parsley has been used as a medicinal herb to settle the stomach and aid digestion. Flat-leaf and curly parsley are widely available, and they make a great seasoning and garnish.
Couscous (semolina wheat), bulgur wheat and rice (especially brown rice) are all outstanding foods for acid reflux. A complex carbohydrate is a good carbohydrate! More from Health.com: Are Too Many People Taking Heartburn Drugs? 7 Daily Habits That Can Halt Heartburn Surprising Heartburn Triggers
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