Stressed and Feeling It
Digestive Disease Week 2013 just took place in Orlando – it’s a yearly confab in which researchers convene to present the latest findings into digestive illnesses in this country, which are epidemic. If you don’t believe me about the epidemic part, just take a trip to the local drugstore and scan the aisles – you’ll find a wealth (for the manufacturers, that is) of acid reducers, constipation remedies, diarrhea stoppers and more, just waiting to assist people who experience acute and chronic problems in their GI tracts.
I myself have suffered from acid reflux or GERD (and “suffered” is the appropriate word), along with 60 million other Americans. I can tell you for certain that stress was at the root of my symptoms. Once my stress was mitigated, the symptoms eased and then gradually disappeared. Admittedly, my diet doesn’t include any of the usual suspects that trigger GERD, like fatty fried foods. But I don’t steer clear of other foods that I love, like dark chocolate and jalapenos (not together, of course), which can also result in reflux symptoms.
So what did I do? For one, I slowed down and took a lot of deep breaths. I enrolled in a laughter yoga class, which is an amazing stress-buster and is also great for the cardiovascular system. I took papaya enzymes after meals to help me digest. I avoided any foods I thought might be triggering my symptoms. I also started eating smaller amounts. My stomach just couldn’t handle bigger meals during the crisis, but it’s fine with smaller portions. Inadvertently, I lost some weight, although I wasn’t trying to.
Coincidentally, a recent study presented at the DDW found that losing weight helps alleviate acid reflux. Patients in the study found their reflux symptoms abating once they lost weight, and then returning when they regained weight. The program included moderate exercise, like walking, which manages both stress and acid reflux.
Your physician may have prescribed medication for your reflux symptoms, or you may be self-medicating at the drugstore. But in holistic health, we like to look at what the root of the problem is, not just how to relieve symptoms. Are you stressed at work or at home? Have you been gaining weight recently? What’s going on in your life that may be aggravating your reflux symptoms? Is there a step you can take today – like stopping and taking three deep belly breaths, or cutting back on your food portions – that might help control your symptoms naturally?
You might be saying, “What if that doesn’t work?” My question to you is, what if it does?