Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays – I love the sentiment, and I love the food even more! Roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls and butter… Not to forget my mom’s celebrated pecan pie. But last season I gobbled a bit too much gobble-gobble – and I suffered a huge case of acid reflux. If your Grandma’s famous stuffing has you feeling beyond famously stuffed – bloated, crampy, burpy and possibly even experiencing chest pains – then you too may be experiencing gastroesophageal reflux.
Acid reflux takes its name from the Medieval Latin “refluxus”, meaning “to flow back”. The acid part comes from, you guessed it, stomach acid. Therefore if you are experiencing acid reflux, your stomach acids are literally flowing back – or rather, up – into your esophagus, causing sensations that are often referred to collectively as heartburn.
Acid reflux is common, and can have a variety of causes: stress, pregnancy, excess weight, diet, smoking, and getting all ancient Roman – eating too quickly and reclining right after. No matter what the cause, almost nothing is worth the experience.
The short term effects of acid reflux are mostly in the range of discomfort, which can vary from person to person. But for those with a chronic condition, long term inflammation of the esophagus can damage lining and cause bleeding, ulcers, and scarring: over time, the cells in the esophagus can change shape and color – sometimes even leading to cancer of the esophagus. In other words: this is a condition that should be treated and prevented, faster than you can say “can I have some more, please?”!
Acid reflux is so common (read: millions of Americans) that many conventional manufacturers have a short term solution: medicines that reduce stomach acid like Zanprol and Protium. While they may help in the short term, common side effects include: gas, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and headaches – the very conditions they are meant to treat! Not only that, this summer Fox News reported that even short term use of “popular acid-reducing heartburn drugs may raise the risk of hip fractures,
” . This information could be hard to stomach, if there weren’t a natural solution! Which of course, there is.
For many sufferers, a few lifestyle changes effectively help to treat and prevent future occurrences. Avoid chocolate (I know, I cried too), peppermint, coffee (again, more tears), tea, refined flours and sugars, and nuts. Incorporate an herbal formula designed to help rebalance the digestive system, like Acid Reflux Essentials
. And give yourself some breathing space: research has shown that people with acid reflux who practice deep breathing each day significantly reduce the uncomfortable sensation.
I can’t imagine a holiday season without my mom’s fabulous pie, and this year I’ll be better prepared!
*A note for about-to-be-moms: while you may temporarily experience heartburn during pregnancy, herbal supplements are a no-no. Heartburn is totally – annoyingly – present during pregnancy, so invest a small fortune in probiotic yogurt and reap the rewards! Translation: the fermented, healthy bacteria-laden food will help the sensation tremendously. Consider this the sagest of all my advice, past and present.