Gastro Esophageal REFLUX Disease
Gastroesophageal Reflux disease is a condition in which your esophagus becomes irritated or inflamed due to acid backing up from your stomach. Some people have a leaky or weak valve that closes your esophagus off from the stomach to protect the sensitive esophageal lining from stomach acid. Reflux affects more and more people every day and is exacerbated due to an increase of processed and refined foods, fast food restaurants, time crunches depriving us of the luxury of chewing, digesting, enjoying and socializing. Stress causes excessive adrenaline production that signals an emergency to the body, increasing blood flow to the limbs, (fight or flight) and decreases it from systems that wouldn't ordinarily be working if you were, say, running from a bear. So, the digestive and the reproductive systems are the first to go.
We over eat, searching for nutrition in nutritionally deficient foods and we have now created an adaptive habit of stuffing as much food on a plate, in a cup and in our mouths as possible, hoping beyond hope for sustenance and satisfaction. Our stomachs are over filled and that puts a physical pressure on the flap that closes our stomach off from the sensitive mucus membranes of our esophagus.
Also, due to over processing and the consumption of large quantities of cooked foods as well as most of us not getting our minimum requirements of the fruits and vegetables that are deficient in nutrients as well, due to conventional growing methods... we are sorely missing many of our vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Enzymes exist in foods that are raw or not heated above 118 degrees. Our very own limited store of digestive enzymes and stomach acids are now doing the job of three men instead of two.... as the cooked foods that once contained enzymes, are now dead, leaving the bulk of the digesting, up to us. Guess what? Our bodies are tired, spent, and enzyme deficient. We are becoming less and less efficient when we need it the most. So, what to do with all this bad news? Lets start by eating more cleanly... back to the basics of organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and high quality, proteins. Read on for more specifics.
1. EAT SMALLER MEALS, EVERY FEW HOURS.
Why? Smaller meals will not fill up the stomach and push the stomach contents up and out of the sphincter (flap) that closes the stomach off from the esophagus and up into the throat. It will reduce acid damage to the vulnerable lining of the esophagus and help to prevent esophageal cancer.
2. TAKE SMALLER BITES! CHEW EACH BITE TO A PASTE!
Why? Because people with reflux disease either have too much stomach acid or not enough stomach acid.
People that have too much stomach acid can cause a large volcanic sloshing around of food with particles that are too big. It requires a lot more work for the acids to break it down and that activity will send acid up through the esophagus.
Most people have a deficiency of stomach acid and have a hard time with large, un-chewed chunks landing in their stomachs. The weak, acid-deficient stomach works really hard on breaking up food that was supposed to be chewed, and it may do an insufficient job. This can leave foods lingering in the stomach and cause reflux.
The stomach also has an “emptying time.” By the time it is ready to empty into the small intestine to absorb the proteins and fats, the food has not been broken down enough to be absorbed into the blood stream in its tiny bits. So, the food itself gets absorbed into the blood stream. Here’s the interesting part, food is not supposed to be in the blood stream, it's broken down particles are. So, now our white blood cells respond to the food like a foreign invader and launch an attack against them. This is one of the causes of food allergies and it exhausts the immune system. Also, white blood cells that would normally be reserved for fighting off the real foreign invaders are now using major artillery power on a bagel, leaving the viruses alone to wreak havoc. Now, are you inspired to chew your food?
3. DRINK WATER BETWEEN MEALS AND ONLY SIP DURING MEALS.
Why? So that you don’t dilute the strength of whatever stomach acid you may have... let it do its job and break down foods with full strength. If you do drink with your meals, sip hot water or green tea. The heat will help keep any saturated fats that you may consume during a meal, soft so as not to harden in your intestinal lining or in your arteries.
4. WHEN YOU WORK OUT...STOP DRINKING LARGE AMOUNTS OR EATING 2 TO 3 HOURS BEFORE YOU WORK OUT.
Keep your stomach as empty as you can a couple of hours before you work out and only sip water in the hour before you work out. Do not guzzle.
Why? Big body movement before the stomach contents have had a chance to empty themselves will result in a sloshing of contents up and out of the stomach and into the esophagus.
5. MAKE SURE TO HAVE A CARB/PROTEIN SNACK OR MEAL WAITING FOR YOU WITHIN 20 – 30 MINUTES OF YOUR WORK OUT.
Why? Well, if you listened to the above suggestion, you are going to be very hungry when your work out is over. Hunger can cause stomach acid production that signals hunger. You don’t want to feel sick as a way to listen to your bodies needs. Feed it automatically. Also, you will the best time to rebuild muscles and replenish lost nutrients after a work out is in the first 30 minutes.
Excellent quick meals or snacks could be Peanut butter and jelly on sprouted grain bread. Whole grain pasta with lots of veggies and chicken or steak. Egg or tuna salad sandwich. Almond milk with peanut butter and hemp protein. Almonds and cranberries. Banana and peanut butter. A bean and rice burrito.
6. DON’T LIE DOWN TO NAP OR SLEEP UNTIL 2 OR 3 HOURS AFTER YOU HAVE EATEN.
Why? If you do lie down, then be in a propped up position as long as you can until about 3 hours have passed. Lying down after eating tips the stomach on its side bringing the acid right up to the opening that connects the esophagus to the stomach. Reflux patients often have leaky vales so it can slip through with gravity.
7. EAT LEAFY GREEN VEGETABLES
Why? They are the opposite of acidic. Alkalinity puts the fire out and stops creating excessive acidity that can burn the lining of the stomach or cause reflux. They are filled with fiber and chlorophyll, sunlight, vitamins and living enzymes. They are some of the most healing, amazing, sun filled, reparative, oxygenating, antioxidant filled foods a person can eat. Try it! Steam them, chop them, blend them, drink them, chew them and fall in love with them. They are the fountain of youth.
8. EAT MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Why? Okay, I separated out green leafy vegetables from the rest, but the fruits and vegetables are amazing. Eat a rainbow! Colors in fruits and vegetables contain different vitamins and phytonutrients. Experiment with eating a rainbow and get all your vitamins. Nature is smart huh? Blueberry’s, blackberry’s, boysenberries, Red cabbage, (is purple) it turns blue when it’s steamed, green beans, broccoli, chard, collard greens, spinach, beet greens, parsley, watercress, lettuce, zucchini, asparagus, are green, lemons, (they seem acidic but they alkalinize the blood and muscles) loquats, yellow berries, pineapple, yellow squash, yellow wax beans, are yellow, oranges, papaya, butternut squash, yams, spaghetti squash, pumpkin, are orange, strawberries, watermelon, beets, pomegranate, raspberries, beets, radishes are red.... How delicious is that rainbow?
9. EAT BERRIES
Why? Berries are some of the least sugary, least acidic fruit. Also, they are high in antioxidants. Why do we need antioxidants? Because the byproducts of refined foods and prepared foods are called free radicals which are like small burning meteors in your blood stream. They crash along the delicate walls of the blood vessels and delicate red blood cells and other important constituents of blood and burn holes in them. It ruins their ability to function and causes more waste products for white blood cells to sweep out of the blood. Using white blood cells to sweep out all these multitudes of deactivated free radicals is like asking our US army to sweep the jungles instead of watching out for real intruders. Chew your berries well, as the little seeds need to be broken down in your mouth, leaving less work for your tired stomach.
10. EAT SMALL AMOUNTS OF WHOLE GRAINS
Why? They are not stripped of the fibrous casing that wraps around the starchy center. So, they are not as acidic as if you were to consume refined grains like white flour or white rice that is a quick sugar rush and acid producer. Sugar is acidic and causes not only stomach acid, but an acidic environment in the blood and muscle tissues. Low lying viruses and bacteria love to hang out in the swampy acidic blood and muscle tissue because they thrive there. They hate alkalinity. Grains are full of fiber and help sweep clean the sludge that accumulates in the intestines and it pulls excess cholesterol out of the blood stream as well. So, consider the importance of eating some WHOLE GRAINS, especially if you are an animal protein eater... Steel cut oats, 5, 7, and 10 grain cereal, oatmeal, teff, sprouted grain bread, hulled barley, quinoa, etc. Grains, however, are still a carbohydrate whose partial intent is to be transformed into a useable form of sugar, (glucose, glycogen), so small amounts will provide energy, minerals, and fiber as well as satisfaction. Eating too many may cause more acid, so use them in moderation. Incidentally, before refined sugar made its way on the scene, people ate fruits, sweet vegetables and grains to get their sweet tooth fix, which was originally a craving for energy and some sweetness in life.
11. EAT FISH AND MEATS IN SMALLER QUANTITIES, CHEW WELL AND EAT SMALL BITES.
Why? For those who like animal protein, it is usually acidic, so eat it in small amounts so that you can satisfy your craving for animal protein. It is good for building muscle and replacing muscle tissue after working out. But, eat it with LOTS of vegetables, especially greens.... greens will have fabulous alkalinizing qualities to help combat the acid nature of animal protein. Also, if greens are eaten raw, then the living enzymes in those vegetables will help to digest the meats, ensuring better use and absorption.
12. DO NOT EAT DAIRY PRODUCTS-
Why? Well, first of all, we are the only species that continues to nurse beyond nursing age. That may be one of the major reasons that most people are lactose intolerant. Lactose is a milk sugar and lactase is the enzyme that most of us had in our bodies when we were babies to digest the milk. It’s no wonder that it’s not there in most of our bodies anymore. We’re not babies anymore. Also, milk products, especially if they are pasteurized, (and you’d have to go out of your way to find raw products, you can find them if you are going to eat dairy,) are highly mucus forming and highly acidic. The mucus is like a sticky swamp that low lying viruses and bacteria love to stick to... think of gooey nasal passages collecting cold viruses. That is a good metaphor for how it is in the alimentary canal. (the alimentary canal is the tubing that goes from your mucusy mouth, through your esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines then out your rear.) That is a long passageway for nasty creatures to make a home in and then their byproducts end up in your blood stream, because that is where nutrients are absorbed. If you are going to eat dairy, find a good quality raw dairy, yogurt is the safest choice in my opinion. They contain probiotics, (see suggestion # 13), and the fermentation process eats up much of the lactase. I’d suggest plain, not the sugar filled kind. Preferably goat yogurt... plain, and add your own sweetener and fruits to avoid the cheap, genetically modified versions. The amino acid ratio in goat milk is more similar to a human ratio than cow.
13. TAKE PROBIOTICS?
What are they? Probiotics are the good bacteria that make up the cultures in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, fresh sauerkraut, tempeh and miso. Our bodies are supposed to contain at least 5 pounds of bacteria or more, lining our alimentary canal. They act as enzymes, aiding in digestion and healthy absorption of the nutrients that are passing through, they sweep sludge out of our intestines and eat up the unfriendlys. Caffeine, alcohol, sugar, pollution, chlorine in our drinking water and in our baths and showers kill off many of our good bacteria. I
14. TAKE ENZYMES!
What are they? Enzymes are protein catalysts that cause chemical changes. Enzymatic activities happen in every single function in our body. The ones that happen in the digestive tract are necessary for proper break down of food into small, digestible particles. Foods that are raw contain their own living enzymes. Foods that are cooked above 118 degrees kill their enzymes. The body contains a finite store of their own digestive enzymes. Due to cooking and processing of foods, the body has had to take over the responsible for almost all our enzyme activity. It has exhausted its stores early and has taxed the organs with so much waste production that people feel sick and tired. We are more susceptible to illness and our lower immunity has made us a host for many exhausting viruses. Animal products, some grains and legumes are particularly difficult to digest and are all usually cooked. They really need to be chewed extra well, and using food enzymes each time you eat is a great way to give your body the help it needs.
Why? Well, goodness gracious, if your enzyme stores are low, your body is tired and you need some real help digesting. The stomach aches, ulcers and reflux are the bodies way of saying, “I’m overworked and stressed and I just can’t do it all alone any more. Please give me food that is living and food that I can use that has real nutrients and if, for goodness sake, you give me junk or hard to digest food, please give me help.” That help comes in the form of ENZYMES.
15. DRINK ALOE VERA JUICE.- Raw, cold pressed, hand filleted and organic.
Why? This miracle plant soothes, alkalinizes, and repairs the lining of the alimentary canal... from top to bottom, it is like putting the fire out.... Add it to juice, drink it straight, put it in a shake, just drink if for goodness sake. About 1/4 to 1/2 cup at a time.
16. DRINK FRESH PRESSED JUICES
Why? Well, this may be last on the least, but not least in importance. Sometimes, we just need to give the old gut a break. Drinking fresh pressed vegetable juices with maybe a little fruit, like green apple, can give the body a concentration of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are easy to assimilate, while giving the digestive system a break. Consider a juice fast for a few days. It may be just the way to hit your reset button.
copyright Jo Sutton 2009