According to World Health Organization, more than $10 billion spent worldwide each year on antacids. And that was in 2017! Acid indigestion plagues a third of U.S. population even when the economy is in better shape.
Heartburn is one of the most common medical conditions experienced by upwards of 40% of Americans on a monthly basis. Sixty million or more Americans have heartburn once a week. The problem is that this disease seems to be increasing. More than 22% of primary care visits will be for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This is up 46% in the last seven years. There have been many theories offered but no one has been able to conclusively pinpoint why this is happening. But, the reality is that we are facing this condition more and more.
What causes heartburn and indigestion? Eating on the run, skipping meals, eating junk food or acid packed foods, worrying that can cause nervous stomach from stress and volatile emotions such as anger or frustration can adversely affect your digestive system.
How can you get your stomach to calm down after a stress-filled and or frustrating day? Does stress at your job cause your digestive problems? How about watching the media news or getting into a discussion about politics?
Employee surveys suggest that over half a million people believed they were suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, or some physical illness resulting from stress, caused or made worse by their work.
Stress is a response to pressure. Over a period of time, this can lead to under-performance, chronic sickness, heart disease or psychological damage or even major illness or death. People under stress show such physical signs as headaches, increased blood pressure, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and indigestion.
Stress can affect decision-making, inability to concentrate, spurts of irritability or aggression and changes in self-confidence. Relationships can be affected, cooperation with others may diminish and stress could lead to an increase of sick days.
Americans have made antacids a major category in a typical drug store’s merchandise mix. Many people carry antacids around with them during the day in case they get bad heartburn, indigestion or stomach distress. If you take Tums regularly, large amounts of calcium carbonate-containing antacids can affect the balances of calcium and acid in the body and damage your kidneys. It is suggested that you not take antacids over long periods as you could have a more serious ailment such as a stomach problem, or peptic ulcer disease.
Popular heartburn drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have been linked to a variety of health problems, including serious kidney damage, bone fractures and dementia.
What can you do to reduce heartburn and indigestion? You can try the following to reduce the stress associated with meals. If you get stressed, try to remove yourself from the stressful environment . Get away from the source; try walking at a leisurely pace and if possible outside in a quiet environment.
When you dine, eat your food at a slow pace. This may be hard at first but a simple technique is to chew each bite of food ten times before swallowing. When you have finished your meal, try to avoid the TV or conversations that made you feel stressed. You will be surprised at how much this will relieve your indigestion and reduce your stress or anxiety. If you are a faith-based person, seek some quiet time with God.
Relax by breathing deeply and stretching your muscles. If you dine alone, put on some nice, relaxing music. Even if you are not used to it, try saying grace. It doesn’t have to be formal; just gratitude for the food and for your blessings. Counting your blessings negates the negativity and stress stored up. Don’t listen to the news while you are eating; that in itself will give you indigestion.
If you dine with family, concentrate on the positive and happy experiences of the day, not the negative or complaints. Use humor and good cheer. Laughter and happiness are good for digestion and relaxation. Have a glass of wine with your mate or partner; spend some minutes alone if you have children. Bring the tempo down along with your blood pressure. Tomorrow is another day. You can dispel the stress from today instead of storing it up and adding it to tomorrow’s.
© Marie Coppola Revised August 2019.