Drugs alone won’t keep acids down
No one had a clue that busy businesswoman Neth (not her real name) was suffering from pain literally emanating from the pit of her stomach.
Neth, all 185 pounds of her packed into a 5-foot frame, was diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and gastritis in August of 2009 when she underwent endoscopy at a well-known Manila hospital.
Though commonly called dyspepsia, heartburn or acid indigestion, medical experts call these collectively as GERD when they become chronic occurrences in an individual, according to nutrition expert Phyllis A. Balch, author of “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.”
GERD is characterized by a burning sensation and pain in the stomach and/or chest, behind the breastbone. It may be accompanied by bloating, gas, nausea, shortness of breath and/or acidic or a sour taste in the throat.
Stomach acids going up
Heartburn often occurs when stomach acids make their way up instead of staying down. Hydrochloric acid used by the stomach to digest food backs up into the esophagus (the tube or passageway of food between the throat and the stomach), causing sensitive tissues lining the esophagus to become irritated. Balch cited that normally, the esophageal sphincter muscle pinches itself shut and prevents stomach acid from surging upward. However, if the sphincter is not functioning properly, the acid can leak past it and into the esophagus, causing GERD.
Neth said GERD would feel like “muriatic acid climbing up my esophagus, resulting in pain behind the breast bone.” Sometimes, she added, she would experience chronic asthma, and she would suffer coughing fits. And when she starts drinking coffee and eating pizza, she would feel as if her heart palpitated.
She went to the doctor and underwent laboratory tests, which didn’t yield any conclusive results. It was only after endoscopy that the doctor saw she had GERD and gastritis. She was asked to drink a proton pump inhibitor and a drug (Domperidone). However, months on drugs and therapy didn’t cure her.
She tried putting off weight, which she did, until she reached 112 lbs. “I also realized that too much antacids and the proton pump inhibitor itself gave me more acids and my stomach had a harder time to digest food.”
After doing her own research, she was recommended by a classmate to plant-based nutrition-dietician Dr. Blecenda Varona. Varona immediately removed animal protein (including dairy) from her diet, and Neth became totally vegetarian.
“My only drug was ginger ale [nilagang tinadtad ng luya]. I used hot bag compresses every evening for my stomach, near my esophagus. My rice was red or unpolished. When I woke up in the morning, I drank 3 to 4 glasses of alkaline water, after 1 hour, 1 glass of fruit blend [papaya and pakwan] and then rice with mushroom soup with carrots or potatoes.
“I drank two glasses of water again after two hours. That’s how my lunch and dinner also went. My lunch was monggo with malunggay, or steamed spinach, then after two weeks, I added tofu without oil, without tomato sauce, without vinegar. That’s how it went for three months.”
Every day, Neth also exposed herself to 30 minutes of the morning sun and had 30 minutes of exercise. Slowly she started eating textured vegetable protein [or vege-meat].
Neth never had any GERD attack afterward. Now she is GERD-free after two years.
Diagnosed with GERD
Rico (not his real name), 28, an Internet marketer, was diagnosed with GERD in 2007. The attacks varied, and he ranked them in levels.
“I’ve had two gastroscopies done on me, one colonoscopy and a number of other related tests to check the status of my GERD over the last four years. I’ve been in and out of the ER, and the prescription is still the same hospital wise.”
He also did his own research, took a vacation in the province, and generally slowed the pace of his life.
“Two things made a big difference for me as of late: going vegan and adapting to a healthier consistent lifestyle, as per my dietitian and nutritionist Blecenda Varona.”
“Various spiritual and mental techniques has also helped calm my mind and body.”
These techniques have also kept Rico’s stomach acids stay put.
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