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Alternative Healing

Natural Alternatives to Chronic Heartburn

By Cathi Stack, Naturopathic Doctor (ND)

I bet you weren’t born with that nagging, acidic, fist-in-the-middle-of-your-chest feeling you now suffer from on occasion after eating certain foods. It may have started with an intolerance to dairy, but most will suffer through it in order to drink their supposedly “good-for- you” milk and enjoy their summertime treat of ice cream. But then the list of foods causing this feeling will eventually grow, sending you straight to your doctor. The likely outcome will be a prescription for Prevacid, Protonix, Nexium, Zantac or one of the many other protein pump inhibitors or acid blockers that will put you on the slow road to malnutrition and a B-12 deficiency.

These drugs are putting a band-aid on your symptoms but doing nothing to reverse or cure you. They were meant to be used short term, but because they actually didn’t ‘fix’ anything, people often cannot come off of them. And withdrawing off of these drugs is usually a very uncomfortable experience, although well worth it because many people don’t realize long-term use predisposes them to osteoporosis.  Sadly and shockingly, I am seeing a large number of infants and children placed on these drugs. Unfortunately, this is an all too common scenario in our health care system.

A common misunderstanding is that you are producing too much acid when in fact the opposite is usually true. By further inhibiting gastric acid production, you are unable to breakdown foods properly, leaving you at risk for B-12 deficiency and a general state of malnutrition.

Let’s go back to how this all began. Many years ago, or maybe not that many, you were born with a “bank” full of enzymes to help you breakdown and digest your foods. In the event you didn’t eat raw food (containing enzymes), your body would help you out by loaning you some enzymes to help break down your cooked and processed foods, since once foods are cooked, enzymes are destroyed.

Eventually, your body reaches a point where it is unable to help you, leaving you with food intolerance’s and allergies. Now after eating you become fatigued because your body is working very hard to help you digest. Most of you suffering from sinus congestion and allergies are actually just eating foods that make you more reactive to your environment, and the most common offenders are dairy and wheat.

Enzymes are responsible for chemically breaking down foods within the body into absorbable forms of nutrients. These nutrients are then used by the individual cells for optimal metabolism. Cooking and processing foods with heat kills these life-giving enzymes. Without them, foods begin to stress the body, which will accelerate aging, food intolerance’s, allergies and disease. Heartburn is only the beginning, and it goes downhill from there. Your medication list will begin to increase and you will start noticing your weight creeping up. Unfortunately, most people eat the majority of their foods cooked or processed leaving themselves enzyme deficient at an early age. How is a body to function?

When I place my patients on the Elimination Diet, one of the first things that they notice is allergy symptoms become minimal and sometimes disappear completely. Then comes inches off the waistline as we eliminated what caused a majority of individuals to bloat.

Another option, which is a little less restrictive than the Elimination Diet, is Food Combining. Strategic food combining will promote better digestion giving your body a well-needed break. This style of eating has been very helpful to a large number of people suffering from heartburn.

Here’s what I recommend:

-Eat more raw foods.
-Consider Food Combining. There has been a very favorable response for those that suffer from frequent heartburn who chose to eat this way.
-Take digestive enzymes with all cooked meals (and raw if you have a hard time digesting them).
-Consider Betaine HCL tablets or Raw Organic Cider Vinegar to assist you in digesting meals.
-Avoid beverages while eating as this slows or “dilutes” the digestive process.
-Fix the problem. Don’t just put a band-aid on it hoping it will go away.
-Eat real food.  Avoid diet, sugar-free, fat free and man made foods. Nothing you put in your mouth should have a long ingredient list.
-Wean yourself off of the drugs.  You are only promoting malnutrition and osteoporosis by using them.


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