Every day, over 15 million Americans suffer from one or more symptoms of indigestion. While there are some severe underlying conditions that can lead to these symptoms, most cases can be easily treated and avoided altogether
The stomach is the largest part of our digestive system and when conditions are optimal, things move smoothly through our bodies without a hitch. Sometimes, though, we engage in behaviors that upset the balance and cause us unnecessary discomfort. Here are some common stomach ailments and 6 things you can do to avoid indigestion.
Stomach Functions And Ailments
That bean-shaped organ that sits at the end of our esophagus is where it all happens. The stomach is responsible for breaking down our food, destroying harmful bacteria, and absorbing nutrients.
How Does It Work?
When you consume food or beverages, they enter the stomach by way of the esophagus. Digestion occurs when the stomach produces hydrochloric acid and some neutralizing enzymes. These enzymes protect the lining of our stomach from the acid but when we eat or drink certain things, the balance can be thrown off.
This leads to heartburn and acid reflux and it can be largely avoided.
In order to maintain a healthy environment within your stomach, there are some foods and behaviors you should avoid
Smoking causes the sphincter at the top of the stomach to become weakened, allowing stomach acid to sneak back up into your throat. Chances are if you smoke, your throat (esophagus) is already damaged which makes reflux that much more painful.
Spicy and fatty foods
Ever notice how certain foods cause more discomfort than others? That’s because some have a higher acidity level than others and when you add more acid to your stomach, there are not enough neutralizing enzymes to counteract it. Stay away from spicy, fatty, and tomato-based foods, or have something for relief nearby.
Your stomach can only hold so much food (one liter, to be precise) so if you overeat, you’re more likely to experience reflux. That’s that bitter-tasting substance that feels like you literally swallowed acid but in reverse. And that’s exactly what it is.
Carbonated/Caffeinated Drinks and Alcohol
These beverages are also high in acid content and will irritate your stomach if you consume them too often.
Aside from the most common, heartburn, people can experience all sorts of uncomfortable symptoms when homeostasis is disrupted in their stomach.
This syndrome refers to the general discomfort that accompanies eating. It can include nausea, gas/bloating, and other feelings commonly referred to as “upset stomach”.
Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or reflux, GERD is what happens when you eat all the foods mentioned above too frequently. The excess acid and inflammation lead to frequent, often painful reflux.
Stomach ulcers occur when hydrochloric acid literally eats a hole in the lining of your stomach. You can take measures to treat them and they often heal on their own with proper treatment.
How You Can Treat Or Avoid It
Unless you have a severe underlying condition like Crohn’s or Celiac disease, or a dairy allergy, most cases of upset stomach or indigestion can be treated with home remedies or medications. These include, but are not limited to
Drinking Lots of Water
When heartburn strikes, down an 8 oz glass of water for relief. Water acts as a neutralizer and offers other health benefits, too.
Peppermint or Ginger Tea
These two calming ingredients are used to soothe a host of ailments and are often recommended to pregnant women who experience nausea and heartburn. Consuming them in a tea or infusing them into the main dish are great ways to add them to your diet.
Smoking has several negative health implications, but one surefire way for smokers to minimize the pain of indigestion is to let the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) heal. And the only way to do that is to stop smoking.
Unless you have a dairy allergy or intolerance, consuming yogurt or drinking milk can offer immediate relief for reflux and heartburn. Try drinking a glass of cold milk next time that burn strikes.
Avoiding foods that trigger heartburn and replacing them with foods that neutralize stomach acids (bananas, melons, nuts) can go a long way in reducing indigestion issues. Eating smaller meals more frequently will also help keep your stomach from working overtime.
In some cases, your doctor might recommend you take a prescription or over-the-counter medication to alleviate symptoms. While most of these medications (TUMS, Pepcid AC, Famotidine) are safe for consumption, you should avoid Zantac and Ranitidine products.
These products contain a known carcinogen (NMDA) and thousands of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of people who consumed these products that were subsequently diagnosed with cancer. For more information visit www.rosenfeldinjurylawyers.com.
For most people, heartburn can be treated by making changes to your diet or habits or avoiding foods and situations that trigger it, to begin with. As always, consult your doctor before starting any new medication and always follow directions for use.