Long-term healing requires awareness of and respect for root causes. A common mistake many make is simply chasing a symptom. Obsessing over a symptom leads one into a perilous journey and constant battle with his/her body — and rarely into healing.
The most common gut-related issue symptoms are acid reflux, bloat, irregular bowel movements and afternoon crash — however, it’s key to remember: “common” does not equal “normal.” Just because many people experience the same symptoms does not make them normal.
This month, we are exploring the root cause of these common symptoms and discuss healing solutions. This is meant to be used as an informative tool, not a prescription or diagnosis. Please consult with your health practitioner before stopping medication or starting any protocol.
The root cause of acid reflux is typically dysfunction in digestion. Contrary to popular belief, acid reflux is not from “too much acid.” In fact, according to the book, “Why Stomach Acid is Good for You: Natural Relief from Heartburn, Indigestion, Reflux and GERD,” only roughly 2% of the entire population has too much stomach acid. The stomach was made to be highly acidic to help break down our food.
For food to move through digestion, it must reach a certain PH. Unfortunately, because many people have too little stomach acidity from eating processed foods, rushing and not chewing, food that is in the stomach cannot reach the next step of digestion. Instead, it sits in the stomach. This continues throughout the day, and every meal you eat essentially sits on top of the other without the possibility to travel downward. The food has no choice but to move up. The problem is, the esophagus is not meant to be touched by high acidity, and this creates extreme discomfort.
At this level, many will reach for the antacid. This makes matters worse long-term, as antacids further dilute stomach acidity. Not only will you experience issues with digestion, creating an inability to absorb and utilize nutrients, but you are also at higher risk for bacterial overgrowth.
The first step to healing this issue is to take your time when eating. Digestion starts in the brain, as that is the required first step to signal the appropriate digestive secretions. To further enhance stomach acidity, dilute 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, add lemon juice or mix in a recommended betaine hydrochloride (HCL) supplement to your water.
Bloat and Irregular Bowel Movements
Irregular bowel movements include diarrhea, constipation or an alternation between the two. Typically, the root cause is inflammation or an imbalance in the gut — most commonly triggered by food sensitivities. With bloat, it can also be from eating too fast or being in a high-stress state which shuts down digestion.
In each case, I recommend tracking symptoms to understand if any particular foods are triggering the reactions. This can be done utilizing a food log, where you not only track your meals but notate the response your body has after consuming the food. The most common sensitivities to look out for are gluten, dairy, eggs, soy and corn.
To stimulate the healing process, focus on rebalancing the gut by eliminating sensitivities for roughly 30 days and consuming gut-healing foods like bone broth, healthy fats, fiber-rich veggies and non-processed foods. After the 30 days, you can slowly reintroduce the suspected foods and assess your body’s reaction.
The Afternoon Crash
It’s actually not normal to need coffee at 3 p.m., experience anger without food or have irritability when meals are delayed. All of these symptoms are a classic indicator of a blood sugar imbalance. When blood sugar is imbalanced, it not only leads to energy fluctuations, but it can also play a huge factor in your mood, hormonal balance and weight loss.
To balance blood sugar, you want to balance your meals. The Standard American Diet focuses on a carbohydrate-rich diet, which elevates blood sugar, ultimately causing the secretion of insulin. Overtime, the body is desensitized to insulin and secretes more to bring blood sugar back to homeostasis. This leads to excess excretion of insulin which dips blood sugar too low, leaving you in that feeling of fatigue, irritability and anxiety. To create balance in meals, focus on healthy fats, quality proteins and fiber-rich carbohydrates at each meal. Instead of your next protein and grains dinner, try wild-caught salmon with sautéed veggies in coconut oil or grilled chicken with avocado, sautéed spinach and sweet potatoes.
With health, many symptoms are interrelated. It’s best to explore the root of those symptoms before opting for the quick-fix solutions. The first step to recognizing how to heal is getting in touch with how you feel. Many people never pause and connect with their bodies. Make the time to check in with yourself to uncover dysfunction.
The common denominator in many symptoms is a dysfunction in the gut. Gut dysfunction leads to a plethora of symptoms and is the root cause of many chronic illnesses, mental disorders and hormonal imbalances.
How to calm an upset belly:
Drink lemon water
Consume digestive enzymes to aid in digestion
Drink bone broth and chamomile tea
Use Terra’s DigestZen essential oil mix
Relax (digestion shuts down when the body is stressed)
For those of you struggling with energy dips, aside from balancing blood sugar, try the above and revive your energy throughout the day!
How to quickly boost your energy without coffee:
Move your body