Some of the most prescribed medicines in the Britain (and the rest of the western world) are for drugs that help gastric reflux or heartburn (sometimes called dyspepsia). The shelves of the average chemist are weighed down with over the counter medicines.
Heartburn or reflux is where the acid of the stomach makes it’s way back into the foodpipe (or oesophagus), creating the typical burning feeling of this condition. The stomach is protected against the acids it holds, but the foodpipe can be easily damaged by the presence of gastric acids.
Acids can re-enter the foodpipe where the lower oesophageal sphincter (a muscular ring at the entrance to the stomach) becomes weak or “incompetent” – this can happen for many reasons including hiatus hernia. However most cases of reflux are idiopathic or of unknown origin.
Most people have suffered from reflux at some point in their lives, but what can we do if it becomes regular and for some people this condition can dominate their lives? Well yes there is – however first we should check with our doctor to check there is nothing more serious happening.
If there is no serious underlying condition, try these simple self help tips –
- Diaphragmatic breathing (also known as full body breathing or complete breathing) – a toned diaphragm can aid the oesophageal sphincter in “pinching” the lower foodpipe closed. Try Yoga for these exercises!
- Wear looser clothes, try not to wear “shapewear”, tight belts, skirts or trousers/jeans.
- Avoid bending at the waist.
- Try to avoid large meals, have smaller portions. Also keep a food diary to see if certain foods make the condition worse.
- Eat simple foods – dense proteins and fatty foods stimulate acid production and churning/squeezing of the stomach.
- Allow yourself a few times a day when the stomach is empty.
- If overweight, try to lose weight.
- If a smoker, cut down or stop (if will help lots of other things as well).
- Learn to relax – a nervous stomach is an active stomach – again Yoga is brilliant for this.
- Acupuncture can help, although this can be very subjective.
- Never exercise immediately after a large meal.
- Some people find bio live yoghurts, kefir and Symprove can help their symptoms. These products can also help with irritable bowel syndrome.
As with all things experiment to find what works for you.