Indigestion creates feelings of fullness and bloating. “Gas attacks” threaten to drive family members out of the house. Heartburn is a constant visitor and, to top it all off, there’s always a burp struggling to escape.
Sometimes, especially when there is heartburn, symptoms mimic a heart attack. Although the doctor may say, no, there is no heart attack, she may at the same time indicate that coming to her office was the right thing to do because heartburn is actually one symptom of heart attack, and if not checked out, she says, you might just “check out”.
Any serious discussion regarding heartburn will include – should include – an overview of lifestyle and eating habits. Doctors will recite list of what could be causing the problem. The only surefire method of getting rid of indigestion, any competent doctor will maintain, is to make changes in lifestyle and habits according to the list.
Once home, the conversation and the list can be reviewed. A patient guilty of almost every offense may find the entire situation overwhelming and despair of ever regaining control of his or her life. Is it possible, he or she wonders, to turn my life around and totally get rid of indigestion?
Whether dealing with simple occasional indigestion or crippling heartburn, treatment – be it prevention or cure – is going to be similar in many ways. The guidelines become more important in later years, particularly because the human body produces less digestive enzymes as it ages, meaning there aren’t always enough of them to aid in proper digestion of food.
The first line of attack, the doctor has advised, is to eliminate every likely cause of this digestive disorder.
1. Eating too much, too fast, and too often
Pay attention to the size portions you are dishing up. At least for the time being, eat six small meals each day, instead of three large. Sit down and slow down. Chew each bite carefully and thoroughly. Some say that each bites deserves to be chewed twenty times before swallowing. Your teeth are designed to break food down into very small pieces; then your stomach will take over and its acids will finish the job.
2. Gas-producing foods
Certain foods, whether eaten in large quantities or not, tend to cause indigestion. Limit cruciferous foods such as broccoli and cabbage, baked beans, carbonated drinks. Pay attention to what you are eating and when you suffer most from indigestion. Does your stomach feel uncomfortable after consuming foods containing garlic, tomatoes, or onions? Note whether the food that might have caused the problem was cooked or raw.
3. Add fiber to your diet
Look for high fiber cereals and switch from white to whole wheat flour and bread.
4. Drink water throughout the day
Water acts as a lubricant and eases food through the digestive system. It also helps to fill you up so you won’t eat as much.
5. Caffeine, alcohol and smoking
The caffeine in coffee, tea and chocolate can cause or add to indigestion. The amount counts, too, so at least limit your consumption. Instead of six cups of coffee daily, drink two. Decaffeinated coffee is better. Because decaf contains some caffeine, put the brakes on there, too. One small alcoholic drink per day is plenty. Once or twice a week would be better. None would be best, at least until your indigestion is cleared up. Stop smoking. At the very least, don’t smoke just before eating. When it comes to smoking, there exists an even bigger concern than indigestion: smoking is a life-threatening habit.
6. Stress feeds indigestion, just as it does other dis-ease in your body
Find ways to remove yourself from stressful situations. If you’re finding it difficult to deal with the problems in your life, seek help: a coach, a therapist, a counselor, or a religious leader. On a smaller scale, but just as important, find ways to calm yourself in the routine of your day. When eating, listen to soothing music. When walking, listen to the birds and think about nothing, or enjoy a recorded book.
7. Exercise is a great stress reliever
It’s also a way to lose weight, and excess weight only adds to your mental and physical stress, which in turn circles back to your indigestion problem. Add strengthening and aerobic exercises to your daily routine. Start out small and build up “muscle”. Increase time and activity only after what you’re currently doing feels almost too easy. A sample five-day per week walking regime could start with ten minutes each, two times daily, for the first week. The second week, increase the twice-daily walks to fifteen minutes, and the third week, go for twenty minutes each time. At that point, start alternating between normal and fast walking every few minutes.
8. “Too big for your britches?”
Most people who gain weight tend to be in denial. They continue to wear the same old clothes even though the waistlines squeeze tighter each day. Buy clothes that fit and take the pressure off your stomach area.
9. Stand or sit up for several hours after eating
You can even take a slow walk. Save lying down, faster walks or more vigorous exercise for several hours after eating. When you finally do lie down, prop yourself up with several pillows.
10. Temporary relief
For temporary indigestion relief, drink chamomile tea for its calming properties. Not only will it relax you, but also it will relax your gastrointestinal system enough to help ease the gas and the indigestion. Apricots have also been shown to aid in digestion if taken prior to a meal. Check the latest research on these herbs which have been said to aid in indigestion: peppermint, slippery elm bark, licorice, ginger, and aloe vera gel. Antacids have been shown to ease indigestion. However, unless you change your eating and lifestyle habits, you will continue to need them. A dependency could develop and your stomach could stop producing its own acids. Baking soda and water has been a successful home remedy for years. It is not recommended, however, as a regular deterrent for indigestion. In rare cases, it can cause stomach rupture.
Your doctor knows what she is talking about. Her advise is backed by years of study and research. With the availability of the Internet, patients can also pursue their own areas of research in the matter.
Starting small in treating indigestion is more likely to lead to success, more so than attempting to change everything all at once. Eating smaller portions, daily walks, a cup of chamomile tea (cutting out one of the daily mugs of black tea or coffee) and abandoning tight fitting clothes is one way to begin.
Indigestion doesn’t have to continue, and it will be a relief to finally identify a specific problem that can first be tackled without prescription medications or surgery by following these simple, surefire ways to get rid of indigestion.