Heartburn and Acid Reflux – What’s really happening in your body?

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When it comes to heartburn and acid reflux, we have commonly been told that our stomach has too much acid that is creating uncomfortable and painful symptoms. The truth is that it is often not an issue of too much stomach acid.  So what’s really going on and how do we get to the root of the problem?

At the first sight of food, we typically start to salivate. If we prepare the food ourselves, we salivate even more as we smell the food we are preparing. Once we sit down to eat, our digestion has been primed and those gastric juices that are such a crucial part of digestion have increased and are ready for the work of breaking down our food. Hopefully, we also chew our food thoroughly which again makes the job of the stomach easier too. Unfortunately though, many of us today don’t prepare our own food, we don’t actually sit down to eat, and we definitely don’t take our time and chew our food. We also don’t always make food choices that support our body’s natural healthy processes.

Given these factors, when we eat on the go or we are stressed or we make poor food choices, our digestion is not primed to do the work. Gastric juices are not really flowing in excess because they haven’t been signaled to start flowing. Our stomach in this case is producing very little stomach acid. So then how does heartburn and acid reflux become as issue?

When you eat, food passes down the esophagus and into your stomach. At the lower end of the esophagus is the lower esophageal sphincter or LES. After food passes through this sphincter, it is supposed to close and prevent food or acid from moving back up into the esophagus. When the stomach acid production is low, the LES is not signaled to close. So it remains open, allowing stomach acid and/or food to move up into the esophagus.

Typical go-to treatments of these symptoms are over the counter antacids like TUMS or prescription proton pump inhibitors like nexium, prilosec, or prevacid. TUMS are basically calcium carbonate with sugar, food additives and coloring. The calcium carbonate is not necessarily so terrible but you do need to know when and how much to take for it to actually help improve your digestive symptoms and not just cause more harm.  TUMS are definitely NOT a long term solution.

Proton pump inhibitors are a class of medication whose main action is to reduce the production of stomach acid. This often does relieve symptoms because you are no longer producing stomach acid AT ALL so there really isn’t anything to flow up into the esophagus and cause burning.  However, the complications that arise as a result of this are many and varied. One common symptom that I see in my practice when a person is or has been on PPIs is fatigue because they are now also lacking in a variety of essential nutrients. The body can’t absorb what is being eaten because the food isn’t being properly broken down.

Now that you have a better understanding of the problem, what can you do about it? You can start by adding a few key foods to your diet such as pure, raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, cabbage juice or sauerkraut, or high quality unprocessed salt. Taking 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar in a large glass of water daily is going to help increase production of stomach acid.

Cabbage juice or sauerkraut is another strong stimulant for your body to produce stomach acid so taking a few teaspoons of either of these prior to meals will boost digestion. The salt (Himalayan is a good one) will provide your body with the necessary ingredients for making stomach acid while adding necessary trace minerals to your diet.

One last thing that I often advise people to help improve their digestion is to breathe! Just before you eat, STOP, close your eyes and give yourself a couple seconds to take 2-3 deep belly breaths. Just doing this simple action can have a tremendous benefit on your ability to digest your food, among so many other amazing benefits.

If you are suffering with heartburn or acid reflux, I strongly recommend trying some of these suggestions. Remember we are always here to help you if you are unsure where to start or maybe you have already tried some of these suggestions and it was not enough. There are many options in our toolkits to help address heartburn and acid reflux naturally and get your digestion working properly again, even when it seems nothing can be done! Give us a call 403-237-6866 or schedule a free 15 minute meet and greet and learn more about how we can help.

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar

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Sugar is everywhere! It’s in our ‘healthy’ fruit juice, yogurt, salad dressings, and BBQ sauces. There are only 2 items on the MacDonald’s menu that do not contain sugar!

Sugar now exists in 74% of packaged products. Most people don’t realize how common it is because there are 61 different names for sugar. Some of the less recognizable names found on packages include: barley malt, dextrose, maltose, rice syrup, beet sugar, cane juice, carob syrup, evaporated sugar cane. Ultimately, they are all just sugar, and all cause detrimental health effects. When we ponder sugar from vegetables or fruit, consider that they are surrounded in fiber. The fiber will help slow the absorption of the sugar and therefore it has a less aggressive impact on the body. A good source of protein is another factor that can help lower the absorption of sugar.

In the 13th century one pound of sugar would have cost the equivalent of 360 eggs today it is the cost of two eggs. The influx of added sugar also came when the low-fat revolution began, fat was removed from foods, sugar was then added to make it taste palatable. Without fat and sugar, the processed foods tasted terrible. Then breakfast cereals became known as healthy breakfast alternatives to eggs and bacon. Little did everyone know the ‘healthy’ low fat/no fat version was worse for them, containing up to 6x the amount of sugar as their full fat counterpart. Yogurt is one of the health foods that I like to challenge, a leading brand of yogurt contains 7 tsp (29 grams of sugar) per serving . This exceeds the recommended daily amount of sugar. Daily sugar intake recommendations by the American Heart Association are no more than 100 calories (6tsp- 25grams of sugar), and complete avoidance until 2 years old.

As a result of the abundant amount of sugar in our diets, sometimes unknowingly, we have developed sugar addiction. This isn’t completely our fault as not only is it a secret additive in so many foods but we physically can’t control ourselves. Take it from these rats. A study conducted in Bourdeaux, France demonstrated that rats given the choice between sugar and cocaine would choose sugar 94% of the time!!

Our gut health is another important consideration when it comes to sugar addiction. Yeast is an opportunistic organism that can flourish on a high sugar diet. When there is too much yeast existing in the gut, sugar addiction becomes even greater. With that being said, we have to understand the impact sugar is having on us.

Here are 6 reasons to lower sugar intake or just get rid of it:

  • Disease: There have been countless studies showing increased sugar consumption linked to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and heart disease. Sugar increases triglycerides levels in the blood, hardening arteries and increasing risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease.
  • Skin: Sugar binds to protein and fat during digestion creating advanced glycosylation end products (AGES), these are free radicals that can cause blemishes, reduce collagen and elastin in the skin causing wrinkles and loss of elasticity.
  • Immunity: Sugar has a depressive action on the immune system by decreasing the activity of immune cells then also feeds bad bacteria and viruses.
  • Nutrient depletion: Sugar inhibits mineral absorption, throwing the mineral balance of the body off. Sugar also decreases B vitamins because they are required to metabolize sugar and carbohydrates.
  • Blood sugar regulation: Sugar causes spikes in blood sugar then drops shortly after causing us to be hungry and experience mood changes. This also causes inflammation throughout the body and brain.
  • Fatty Liver: Fructose one of the most common forms of sugar, can only be metabolized by the liver. If there is too much in the body, it will build up and be stored as fat leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver.

 

If you would like to find ways to fight sugar cravings and limit your sugar consumption, come and see us at Effective Health Solutions. Together we can decide if you would benefit from gradual decreases or a “cold turkey” approach.

Give us a call or book your free consult NOW to become sugar-free and healthier.

How to Go Gluten Free

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For many people, part of their health journey requires healing the digestive tract, which can mean avoid gluten for periods of time. Going gluten-free can be a challenge at first…stick to simple choices at the beginning, until you start to navigate the ins & outs of gluten containing food. It is always best to focus on eating whole foods that are found in nature (as opposed to processed foods). Continue reading

Kick Start the School Year with Probiotics

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I remember being excited as a kid, every September meant new clothes, school supplies, teachers and classes…a fresh start to a new year. The more I learn about health and wellness, the more I realize that one of the most important factors to success in school starts with the our humble microbe populations that live in our digestive tracts.

It is said we are 10% human, and 90% microbe…a healthy gut houses over 100 trillion friendly bacteria, which is a ratio of 10:1 to the number of cells in your body. Why are these critters so important? The reality is that without these friendly bugs, your digestion, brain health and immune function would simply not function. At any given time, you have around 160 bacterial species (types) in your gut out of over 1000 species of bacteria. The digestive tract is one of the most complex eco systems to understand and study. The individualized bacteria composition found in each body play a vital role in keeping us healthy. Having the right strains, in the right amount and in the right part of the digestive tract are critical to our overall sense of well-being, and should therefore, be a part of our daily health practice. Continue reading