My gastro-issue journey started in Form 2 when I was diagnosed with peptic ulcers. I was treated for it and they healed, but I was left dealing with chronic acidity and GERD (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disorder). It was so serious that it eroded the enamel on my teeth (they are almost see through) as well as irritated my diaphragm, causing me breathing issues on occasion.
My drug regimen went from Actals, to Maalox, gels, baking soda (I was desperate) and eventually I was prescribed Nexium – an acid blocker that I had to take half an hour before every meal, followed by a strong anti-acid after every meal. It was misery. To top it all, I was staying away from everything food wise – no tea, no coffee, no Sukuma, no oranges, no this, no that.
When I took my daughter to see a gastroenterologist, I shared some of my struggles and she told me to stay away from doctors as they are unlikely to help me and will just take my money – Wow! She told me to listen to my body – monitor how it behaved when I ate certain things and adjust accordingly. I did just that and now I have gone almost 10 years without taking anti-acids. When I suffer acidity, I usually know what caused it and it’s usually a calculated risk – sometimes I just want to enjoy a bite of the forbidden fruit.
I am no doctor, so what I share is purely my journey.
- I started to observe what I was eating and my reaction to it. Amazingly tea and coffee were not a problem, but drinking chocolate was.
- I read a lot and experimented. My most impactful read was “Eat Right for Your Type” – I did not follow it to the letter, but it helped me with my experimentation, giving me some direction on what to try. As a result – I eliminated dairy (except cheese) from my diet and greatly reduced wheat. I also stay away from potatoes, oranges, bananas, mango and paw paw.
- I learnt that acid causes flatulence, so I observed what gave me gas and have stopped eating red meat.
- When my system is not co-operating, I start the day with a highly acidic drink – usually warm lemon water – It sounds counter-intuitive, but this was the logic I read in a paper and thought it was worth a try. Your body produces acid to aid in digestion. The article suggested that when your body is low in acid and food is introduced, it is likely to overproduce acid to compensate. Thus starting with something highly acidic tricks your system and you end up not producing too much acid. It worked for me.
- A lot of my tummy fat was actually just gas and when I stopped suffering acidity so much and had a better grip on what I ate, the size of my tummy reduced. Note, size of tummy, not weight.
What I have learnt as a result is that within some parameters, it is in our power to stop acidity. Most doctors will prescribe drugs that do not go to the root of the problem, but rather deal with the symptoms.
Understand your body, be sensitive to what it is telling you and reap the benefits.