Hasta la vista acid reflux!
By Sherri Oustalet, ARCB
So it’s Friday night. You’ve been working hard all day. At lunch, you had just enough time to scarf down some trail mix and a Diet Coke® at your desk and sip on a bottle of Poland Spring® when you remembered. After putting in a long day, you go out for a bite with your “besties”, women you’ve known forever – your Joy Luck Club, loving, resilient Steel Magnolias. After great conversation and polishing off your favorite garlic-y pasta primavera coupled with a rustic Italian red, you get a gut feeling… a faint rumbling, a hint of what’s to come. You wave it off. A delicious evening winds down with creamy Tiramisu and a steaming cup of the best dark roast in the ‘hood. You’re good to go. You pay the bill, bid farewell to your friends until the next time, go home, relax, turn out the lights, lie down, and go to bed. And then it happens. That churning, burning, bubbling, oh-so-full, not-so-good feeling. Acid reflux in-da-house. Your house. Your body. Your belly.
In the land of human digestion, the upper GI tract is acid reflux’s home base. Food enters the esophagus, a long muscular tube that runs from the mouth to the stomach. It uses peristalsis, rhythmic wave-like muscle movements, to force food from the throat into the stomach. When the lower esophageal sphincter – one of the body’s valves – doesn’t work properly and allows acid to seep upwards from the stomach to the esophagus, you’ve got yourself a case of acid reflux. You’d know it by a burning sensation in the throat, a slight pressure in the chest, and/or a feeling like you’re about to “toss your cookies” as it were. You might have difficulty swallowing, get hoarse, or feel a kind of chest pain – a heartburn sensation.
How can we support optimal digestion in our bodies and steer clear of acid reflex? I’ll share my personal experience. About 5 months ago, for the first time ever, I had intense acid reflux with a myriad of extremely uncomfortable GI (gastro-intestinal) symptoms. Frankly, I was scared and not sure what was going on with my body; it was that intense. I visited my doctor and had a thorough check-up. I was told I was dealing with acid reflux. After that, I did some research and made a couple of simple lifestyle changes. I began my journey incorporating some over-the-counter antacid meds, but I wasn’t interested in doing this for more than a week or so. I preferred a more natural approach. Within two weeks of taking small, targeted, non-medicated steps, I no longer experienced acid reflux. Now, on occasion, if I over-eat or fall into some old habits, I may feel its beginnings. When that happens, I get back on track.
Little ways I took care of myself and said “goodbye” to acid reflux:
- Realizing my body was too “acidic”, I “googled” acidic and alkaline food, printed out simple food lists and made changes to my diet accordingly. I stopped eating breads, crackers, tomatoes, processed sugars, and other acidic foods and then re-introduced a few of them in smaller amounts after I no longer had acid reflux symptoms. I monitored my food intake experience. I incorporated more alkaline sweet fruits, bananas and pears into my diet. Wine took a back seat. Diet soda and coffee went the way of the wind. I drank lots of water. I ate very small portions of meat, if any at all, and certain kinds of fish like salmon.
- I ate smaller meals throughout the day instead of eating very little during the day and a large meal at night, my previous M.O. I used only extra virgin olive oil for eating and cooking. I ate dark leafy greens – spinach and kale – sweet potatoes and avocados. I snacked on raw almonds and fruit. And I lost weight without really trying!
- I blissed out on foot reflexology and other bodywork – excellent ways to help the body relax and move toward natural balance. Reflexology helps reduce inflammation, increases circulation, moves toxins out of the body, and reduces stress. It, along with everything else I was doing, helped alleviate my acid reflux symptoms.
- I drank herbal tea and lots of it, specifically Yogi Teas; they taste great and there are lots of choices: “Egyptian Licorice”, “Healthy Digestion”, “Stomach Ease” among them. Ginger, peppermint, and chamomile teas are also excellent for digestion.
What you can do…
- Do a little research on acidic and alkaline food and drinks. Determine what small changes you can make in your diet.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals, approximately 4-5 meals–a-day.
- Cut out unhealthy fats. Use extra virgin olive oil for cooking, on salads and other foods.
- Lose a little weight. A few pounds make a big difference!
- Drink lots of water and herbal tea. Coffee, soda, and alcohol are highly acidic.
- Treat yourself to some bodywork: reflexology, massage, reiki, acupuncture, polarity, etc.
- Stress exacerbates acid reflux symptoms. Exercise. Relax. Meditate.
I hope this helps you navigate the acid reflux terrain a little bit better and gets you started on a healthier lifestyle!
Sherri Oustalet is an ARCB nationally certified Reflexologist for feet and hands with a private practice in NYC – Blue Sun Reflexology. For over nine years, she has provided reflexology in clients’ homes and offices, and for special events, primarily in Manhattan.