info on indigestion, heartburn, upset stomach, belching, flatulence, dyspepsia, acid indigestion
Indigestion or Heartburn?
Indigestion includes a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas (flatulence or belching), bloating, and upset stomach. Heartburn is that burning, painful feeling, due to stomach acid rising up into the esophagus when the muscle separating them is relaxed or weak. It also may arise from an inflammed stomach lining (gastritis) or an ulcer.
Diet & Nutrition
- Foods to avoid or limit: Avoid or reduce intake of refined sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Avoid food allergens: Avoiding such foods may improve digestive complaints. However, there is little published research documenting such an association.
- Eat slowly, chew well: those who eat too fast don't chew adequately sometimes have heartburn or indigestion.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux See the recommended diet.
- Ayurvedic medicine home remedy recommendations
There are a number of proactive steps one can take to reduce problems associated with indigestion and heartburn.
- burning sensation or pain in upper abdomen
- belching, belching, passing gas,
- non-localized abdominal pain,
- nausea, and sometimes vomiting.
- Note: excessive gas can expand the stomach upward and push against the heart (also known as the gastrocardiac syndrome.)
- Caffeine and alcohol consumption is sometimes a factor
- Allergies Sometimes symptoms appear due to food allergies.
- Eating too fast or not chewing adequately
- Hiatal hernia Heartburn can be caused by hiatal hernias wherein a small stomach section sticks upward, catching in the muscle separating the stomach from the esophagus. This allows stomach acid to rise up into the esophagus and irritating its lining.
- Anti-acids To relieve heartburn, many use antacids. They do provide temporary relief of symptoms, but long term use may have other consequences, not the least of which is that they may interfere with the absorption of minerals and minerals contributing to deficiencies.
- Drugs Drugs for acid stomach may include histamine H2 inhibitors and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPI have been found to have many side effects, some due to mineral and nutrient deficiencies leading to symptoms like restless leg syndrome, bone fractures and increased risk of infection. Other serious side effects are a higher risk of chronic kidney disease and even increased risk of heart disease.
- Diet Health professionals often recommend avoiding fatty and fried foods, spicy foods, beans and milk. They may recommend simethicone or activated charcoal for relief of bloating and gas.
Self Help Details
Diet & Nutrition
- Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD) Medical professionals now recommend the following diet for those who frequently
suffer from this condition.
- Reduce high fat meals,
- Reduce large meals,
- If weight loss is a goal, reduce calories
- Avoid chocolate (which relaxes muscles) and coffee
- Avoid known irritating foods such as mint, alcohol, fizzy drinks, citrus and tomatoes.
- Ayurvedic medicine recommends these home remedies to improve digestion and relieve indigestion:
- Lemon juice in warm water
- Drinking buttermilk after meals, you can add roasted ground cumin seed and a pinch of salt
- Ripe bananas with yogurt every day for one week.
- Chew a slice of fresh ginger before meals
- Lactase (for lactose intolerance only) Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest this enzyme which occurs in milk-based dairy foods. It can give rise to gas, flatulence, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and gurgling stomach. For people who experience these symptoms upon intake of milk products, taking lactase before consuming dairy foods may be helpful. Lactase is the enzyme which digests lactose. A number of lactase preparations are available and dosage depends on the specific product.
- Lipase (For pancreatic insufficiency only - pancreatic enzymes contain protease and should be avoided by people with ulcers. Lipase is an enzyme produced in the pancrease which enhances fat digestion that may be useful for digestion in some people. The dosage varies and should be identified by your healthcare professional. Research has demonstrated that pancreatic enzymes (timed-release) markedly reduced bloating, gas, and the feeling of over-fullness high-fat meals.1
Three major categories of herbs are used to treat indigestion.
The effects of these different categories on heartburn and low stomach acid will be discussed individually. Although there is overlap in the conditions, the categories are helpful.
Lifestyle changes that may be helpful, especially for gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
- Weight loss: Being overweight increases the risk of gastroesophageal reflux.
- Posture: sit upright while and following eating.
- Timing: don't eat within 3 hours of bedtime
- Sleep: sleep on your left side, and if you frequently have GERD, even raise the head of your bed a bit and chew non-mint gum
- Journal: keep a journal of what you eat and what causes problems. If you do so, you'll begin to see a pattern.
See these references for footnotes and other information.