Indigestion is term used to describe pain or discomfort in the abdominal area or a burning sensation which develops after eating a meal.
Symptoms of Indigestion:
* Abdominal Pain
* Bowel irritation
* Rumbling Noises
* Chronic fatigue
* Bloated feeling
* Allergic symptoms
* Joint and muscle pain
* Skin disorders
* Loss of appetite
Causes of Indigestion:
* Not properly chewing
* Eating too quickly or eating while under stress.
* Drinking liquids with meals. Liquids dilute enzymes which are essential to the digestion of food. As people age the body also slows production of food enzymes.
* Hydrochloric Acid, which is produced by glands in the stomach, is necessary for the digestion of food. Insufficient amounts of HCI can lead to indigestion. HCI levels often decline with age. People who suffer from food allergies more often than not have low levels of HCI. Over the counter antacids may make matters worse because they neutralize acids and prevent proper digestion. Once the acid has been neutralized it sends a signal to the body to produce more HCI, which can create an over acid
condition. Some antacids also claim to be high in calcium. The body needs HCI to absorb calcium and if the antacid is neutralizing the acid the body is therefore not absorbing the calcium.
* Eating foods or drinking beverages that are known causes of indigestion. Some examples include: Alcohol, caffeine, greasy or fried foods, refined or processed foods, spicy foods, and vinegar.
* Lack of friendly bacteria. Antibiotic use can deplete the body of beneficial or good bacteria which is essential in maintaining a proper balance in the body for digestion.
* Food allergies or food intolerances can contribute to acid indigestion.
* When food is not properly digested it will ferment in the stomach and small intestines. Chemicals produced from the fermented food will create gas and bloating.
Dietary suggestions to help reduce or eliminate indigestion:
* Consume a well balanced meal consisting of plenty of fiber and fresh fruits and vegetables.
* Always chew food thoroughly.
* Include whole grains which are neither refined nor milled. Avoid flour products.
*Eat plenty of organic seasonal vegetables which are grown locally when possible. None organic fruits and vegetables lack are usually laden with chemical pesticides.
* Include healthy fats in your diet such as olive oil and fish oils.
* Include foods which contain digestive enzymes such as papaya and pineapple.
* Avoid processed foods, carbonated beverages, pasta, caffeine, peppers, fried and fatty foods, refined carbohydrates, spicy or salty foods, and tomatoes. Also try to avoid peanuts, lentils, and soybeans which are all enzyme inhibitors.
A glass of carrot or cabbage juice or these two vegetables made into a soup is said to help quell indigestion. This is not a cure for indigestion and the root cause must still be determined. However, this remedy will help to quell the burning and pain associated with indigestion.
The Role of vitamins, protein and fats in the diet:
* It is recommended that those suffering from acid indigestion replace the good bacteria by supplementing with probiotics or eating fermented foods. This good bacteria is essential for normal digestion.
* Foods which contain enzymes such as pineapple and papaya should be eaten to replenish normally occurring enzymes which may be depleted because of improper diet or age. Another option is to supplement with a high quality food enzyme.
* Protein in the body should be obtained from high quality sources such as lean and natural meats, organic dairy and organic eggs.
* Persons adhering to a strict vegetarian diet may be suffering from mineral deficiencies due to a lack of protein in the diet; these minerals can be replaced by adding sea vegetables to the diet such as kelp or dulse.
* If a person strickly adheres to a well balanced diet and all foods are fresh and organic, there should be no need for additional dietary supplements. However, a majority of people don’t, and acid indigestion may signal that there is an imbalance in the diet.
* Fat is essential in the diet and assists with absorbtion of vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fat should should consist of quality sources such as olive oil, sesame oil, and clarified
Herbs used to aid the digestive system:
* When chewed, anise seeds will help to reduce a sour stomach.
* A tea made with ginger will help to reduce nausea associated with acid indigestion.
* Chamomile, fennel, or peppermint tea is recommended for indigestion.
* 1/4 of a teaspoon of dried parsley taken with a glass of warm water is said to aid indigestion.
* A tea made from basil will help reduce nausea and will aid acid indigestion.
Because most spices are carminative (preventing and relieving gas), stimulants and aids to digestion, they are considered quiet beneficial in helping to relieve acid indigestion. Traditional kitchen spices may be added when cooking to aid digestion, and to help assimilate vitamins and nutrients.
* When addid to food, nutritive herbs such as seaweeds, dock and dandelion will provide a substantial balance of vitamins and minerals in a form which is easy to assimilate.
* Added to soups and beans, bay leaves will help to reduce flatulence and indigestion.
To summerize, indigestion afflicts many Americans. Stressful lives, eating on the go, and poor nutrition exacerbate the digestive problems which plaque many. Acute indigestion, if left unattended, may develop into a more serious health condition. Making adjustments in diet and nutrition may make the difference between an acute case of indigestion or a chronic more serious health condition.
© Natalie Vickery 2006