Bowel reflux is an umbrella term for digestive complaints (inflammation, irritation) similar to irritable bowel syndrome. The digestive tract is likened to one long pipe, what happens at the top of the pipe (mouth and stomach) affects what happens at the bottom end (intestines and bowels). Suffering from indigestion will have a run on effect to the bowels causing constipation, diarrhoea, pain and/ or inflammation.
THE NERVOUS SYSTEM AND DIGESTION
There is a close relationship between the health of the nervous system and the health of the bowels/ digestive system. You will find that if you are able to decrease your levels of nervous system stress it will have an extremely beneficial effect on your digestion, and vice versa.
The nervous system influences the amount of digestive energy we have for example, if we are always running on adrenalin, as in the case of nervousness and anxiety, the digestive organs receive less energy and this drastically reduces the capability of digesting and assimilating energy from the food we eat. This causes a vicious cycle, because the fewer nutrients we receive to nourish the nervous system the lower our digestive function.
Nervous system tension can cause a decrease in digestive function. This means fewer enzymes to properly break down foods resulting in the fermentation of the foods left in the stomach.
When we ingest foods we produce enzymes in the mouth and stomach which break down the foods and help us to absorb nutrients. If we do not have enough of these enzymes to break foods down (decreased acid production) then food sits in the stomach and ferments which then produces gas and causes the stomach to experience discomfort (bloating/ indigestion).
SYMPTOMS OF INSUFFICIENT DIGESTION
- Heaviness after a meal
- Indigestion and flatulence, constipation
- Reflux and heartburn
Pharmaceutical medication such as Nexium and Motilium are only band aid effects to reduce the uncomfort of symptoms such as nausea and reflux. If this situation is left unaddressed digestive upsets can lead to further complications to health such as ulcers, inflammatory bowel conditions, malnutrition, stress disorders, skin conditions and liver diseases.
DIET TIPS FOR REFLUX
- Begin each day with a small glass of warm water with ½ lemon squeezed in it. Lemon juice increases digestive juices, alkalises the digestion, cleanses the bowels and kick starts the liver to detoxify
- Eat more green bitter foods such as rocket, radicchio and endive as these bitter foods promote digestion
- Foods which aggravate and often causes reflux are spicy, oily, fatty foods, processed foods, coffee, alcohol and chocolate
- Do not drink large amounts of liquids 20 minutes prior to eating or after eating as it will dilute the digestive enzymes and reduce digestive function further
- Reduce foods such as sugar, wheat, dairy, preserved, processed and refined foods, tea, coffee and alcohol as these may compromise the effectiveness of your digestion
- Eat more alkaline and less acidic foods to encourage a healthy digestive system and reduce rebellious Qi (reflux and indigestion)
- Reduce saturated fats (animal fats and dairy foods), transfatty acids, processed foods and simple sugars. Saturated fats and transfatty acids are commonly found in foods such as cakes, cookies, biscuits, bakery foods, margarine, donuts, processed and deep fried foods
- Eating foods high in sulphur help to stimulate liver detoxification such as garlic, brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, broccoli, cauliflower and radish
- Increase vegetables in your meals, especially the family of cruciferous vegetables such as brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and green beans which encourage the liver to detoxify and support bile function. Preferably steam your vegetables rather than boiling to retain maximum nutrients
- Introduce herbal teas such as Dandelion, Burdock, Peppermint, Green Tea, lemon and ginger to support liver detoxification, digestion and the production of bile
- Consume good raw oils in your diet. Foods which contain good oils are raw olive oil, fish oil capsules, flaxseed oil capsules, fish, nuts and seeds and avocados
- Have a vegetable juice each day (beetroot, carrot, celery and ginger) as these encourage liver detoxification, alkalise and cleanse the system and provide vitamin C to move the bowels
LIFESTYLE TIPS FOR REFLUX
- Manage stress
- Address gall bladder insufficiencies
- It may also be beneficial to do a liver detoxification program to take the strain off the liver. Improving liver function will have a dramatic effect on the rest of your health and vitality. The amount of nausea you are experiencing may be due to poor liver function. The liver is burdened by the amount of wastes produced by stress hormones
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR REFLUX
- Chologogue (bile stimulating) herbs may be helpful such as Globe Artichoke, Dandelion, Milk Thistle, Greater Celandine, Gentian, Atractylodes, Chamomile, Yellow Dock and Agrimony
- Vitamin C is an important ingredient in bile synthesis
- Probiotics may be of benefit to improve bile synthesis and improve gut and bowel health
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