How I cured my uncontrollable heartburn without drugs
Campus life can be challenging with chasing classes, completing assignments, and projects and still spare time for daily chores in a small single room that needed to be kept tidy. By the end of the day, you want to feel satisfied when all your plans are accomplished. That was me as a college student.
During the 1hour lunch break, I could run to fix my lunch. Well, because I loved cooking too much to settle for a bite of mandazi and a cup of black tea to sustain my blood sugars for the afternoon classes. I was a nutritionist in the making, and eating right with a few manageable coins and time was worthwhile too. You understand that there was a channel of concurrent activities in that rush to keep time organized and still find me in class on time.
I used to fix my lunch and supper using the stove placed on the floor, no working tops or sink and that included a lot of bending from washing the floor, cooking, and cleaning utensils at the same time. This was the daily routine for the better part of the semester. I was superb in speed but followed the health consequences.
In the first month, I started experiencing heartburn, then a deep sharp pain in my abdomen. I still could not attach this problem to any unusual diet change, lifestyle or behaviour. I did not remember that my daily habits of bending could have contributed to the problem. One day, while in a hurry perusing some notes for a diet therapy presentation, my eye caught; causes of esophagitis; guess what-BENDING AND SLEEPING 30 MINUTES AFTER MEALS.
I am a nutritionist, but it took books to remind me. At times small things taken for granted can tear our lives. I shared with a friend, “I think I have GERD, and my bending caused it”. She laughed off and said, maybe you are taking this too far. In the process, the pain was persisting, almost pushed me to initiate medication.
The stomach is acidic, and once the food reaches it, the acid and the enzymes mix with the food, making it acidic. The stomach has a thick mucus layer that protects its walls from acidic corrosions during digestion. This mucus layer is very thin in the oesophagus wall that cannot withstand the acidic food content from the stomach when we sleep or bend immediately or few minutes after a meal. Also, we prepare our foods with fat that prevents the oesophageal sphincter (the upper stomach closure) from closing tightly. As a result, there is a backflow of food from the stomach to the oesophagus. The continuous process causes corrosion of the oesophagus, the so-called oesophagitis/ GERD. It can extend to causing pressure around the sphincter resulting in a hiatal hernia, the poaching disease. When not addressed on time, this problem may cause severe ulcers and chronic infections, requiring surgery and long-term medication. Thank God for my diet therapy presentation and curiosity for early detection.
What I did to overcome the pain
I know I was organized and clean, but I had to compromise these standards to get well soon. I decided to bear the pain for a few days and unplug the behaviour because it could not resolve overnight with a behaviour change approach. Therefore;
1. I continued preparing my meals at lunch and dinner
2. I ensured no bending and lying down 2 hours after meals. Whatever activities, I did them upright either seated or standing.
3. I eliminated acidic foods and highly fibrous in the recovery period- beans, pineapple, and kales-component of my diet then.
4. I had a relaxed mind and never bothered delaying washing dishes in the evening after classes and mornings after waking up (my stress).
Within two weeks, the irritation stopped, and in 1 month, I was fully recovered. Behaviour change saved my life; no drugs, no special supplement, and no counselling. Ten years down the line, I have practised the magic and no single day have I nursed gastritis, GERD or hiatal hernia.
If you have these conditions, check your behaviour and lifestyle around eating and changing towards a healthier habit. More advanced stages may require medical attention.
Let me know how you conquered your heartburn and any other health-related condition through behaviour change.