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Naturopathic digestive support. Decrease heartburn, improved bowel movements, decrease bloating, gas, and pain

I often see cases of heartburn and indigestion in my practice.

Sensations range from a gnawing feeling in the upper-belly to acid burning up into the throat and even out the mouth, scorching the

lips. Heartburn can occur due to a variety of reasons including poor dietary habits, pregnancy, medication use (and abuse), tobacco use, low stomach acid, a hernia, and longstanding health conditions.

Symptoms can creep on you; “I’ve had this for so long”, “I don’t remember when it started, but now everything I eat seems to aggravate it” are what I hear frequently in my office.

Heartburn, acidity, indigestion, and even ulcers are achy (at best) and extremely distressful (at worst).


Here are 5 strategies to help reduce bloating and heartburn:

  1. Diet

Symptoms of heartburn and reflux are commonly triggered by the foods we eat.

Foods that make reflux worse: acidic foods/juices, high fats, red meats, greasy foods, onion and garlic, spicy foods, tomatoes, and peppermint. If you experience heartburn after meals, consider taking these foods OUT of your diet.

  1. Lifestyle

First, posture, posture, posture (while eating)! Maintaining an upright posture helps the food move downwards towards your stomach.

Second, longterm stress may also worsen symptoms of heartburn. Stress puts the body into a state of fight or flight; the opposite is rest and digest. This means that less blood flow is supplied to the digestive system and more supplied to the organs and muscles responsible for dealing with perceived threats. Less blood flow to the digestive system results in the lower esophageal sphincter (connects the esophagus to the stomach) staying open thus allowing for stomach acid to splash up into the esophagus. Re: heartburn.

I like practicing mindful eating techniques. Enjoying my meals when I’m the least distracted (stressed) in order to ensure that my food is digested and nothing splashes back up. To learn more, check out my tips for mindful eating.

  1. Chronic NSAID use

NSAIDs are often used as a tool to help decrease pain and inflammation in the body. Unfortunately one of the side effects includes the erosion of the mucosal lining (protective layer) of the digestive tract; less protection = more injury from acid and digestive juices.

Luckily, there are plenty of alternative options for managing pain and inflammation that spare the mucosal lining; I often recommend options to patients who are looking for healthier solutions to managing their pain. (More on this soon, but my favourite go-to is acupuncture!)

  1. Eliminate alcohol and coffee

These substances relax the tone of the LES and increasing the production of stomach acid. This can worsen symptoms of heartburn and reflux.

  1. Avoid eating 2-3 hours before bed

This goes hand-in-hand with maintaining an upright posture while eating. Waiting a couple of hours between your last meal and bedtime ensures that your meal has been digested and nothing is left behind triggering the production of stomach acid. (And of course, that nothing splashes back up!)

 

So there you have it! 5 easy strategies for decreasing the burning feeling after meals.

Tested these techniques out and looking for more individualized solutions? Book in with me and find out how Naturopathic Doctors in Toronto can improve your symptoms and prevent heartburn from “splashing up” again!


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Mindful eating habits for health

Retraining the mind to respond to the body’s hunger cues may seem like a daunting task, but actually begins with a few easy steps! Mindfulness-based eating techniques aid with managing and treating emotional eating, weight gain/loss, support energy and overall health.

Here are 6 tips to try today!

  1. Have an attitude of gratitude: Give thanks before each mealPracticing gratitude for food before consuming them is a technique to eat more mindfully.
  2. Be seated: sit in a comfortable position at a table
  3. Chew 30 times: (an arbitrary number) mindful chewing sends messages to the brain that the body is refuelling and well soon be full.
  4. No screens: Power down distractions during meals to fully focus on consuming your meal
  5. Portion food: Measure foods according to guides with reference to your goals and use smaller plates (to visually see that you are indeed consuming a plate-full of delicious food)Portion control helps cut calories and prevent overeating, in order to lose weight. A handful of berries is an excellent source of antioxidants.
  6. Stop when full: Don’t polish off plates, listen to hunger cues. Your body will start to naturally tell you when it doesn’t feel hungry anymore – it might start off as a whisper, listen to it!

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Reduce stress with breath work

In my private practice as well as for my personal wellbeing, I confidently support breathing to manage stress in both immediate and long-term triggers.

Here are a few techniques I often recommend as part of a wellness practice:

But first, just HOW do we breathe? Inhale, exhale, repeat. Easy enough, but did you know the WAY we breathe influences how our bodies respond to stress? For instance, in immediate danger, our heart rate quickens and we take short quick breaths; in calm and peaceful situations our breaths are deeper and slower. By mindfully altering the way we breathe, we can control our responses to situations, and therefore grounding ourselves and increasing our resilience to stress.

Breathing exercises promote stress relief, calmness, and mental clarity while decreasing anxiety

Let’s try an experiment together:

Start by sitting or laying down comfortably with your eyes closed (after you finish reading the post of course). Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Now take a deep breath. Which hand moves more?

If you said “the belly hand” – that’s great! You are a belly breather and you may pass Go and collect $200! Or just skip ahead to the tips; and the $200? Think of it like breathing is the currency for the body – the slower and deeper, the richer you are! (Super cheesy, but also super insightful. Pat on the back for me)

If you said “the chest hand” – at least you’re breathing (which is also great!) In order to take a deep, nourishing breath, we must create enough space for our lungs to expand. When this happens our diaphragm (a muscle used to facilitate breathing) pushes our guts downwards (thereby pushing our belly outwards) in order to create the most space available for our lungs to inhale. Think of it like blowing up a balloon. In order to collect the most air, there needs to be room for the balloon to expand.

How do I belly breathe?! Intention, focus, awareness. Allow your shoulders to drop and relax while you focus on filling your belly with air.

Belly breathing that is slow and rhythmic tells the brain that there is no immediate danger because the breathing is now slow, the rest of the body is then able to relax.

 

Here are some techniques you can try right now!

  1. 7-4-8 breathing

Start by inhaling through your nostrils for 7 seconds, pausing for 4 seconds, and exhaling for 8 slow seconds. Repeat. Longer exhales represent mindfully letting go of what does not serve our greater purpose in order to create space for new things that do serve us

2. Sweet 16 breaths

Like the 7-4-8 breathing, yet all stages of the breathing are the same number of seconds. Inhale through your nostrils for 4 seconds. Pause for 4 seconds. Exhale via pursed lips for 4 seconds. Pause for 4 seconds. Repeat.

 

Continue a daily mindful breathing practice for at least 2-3 times in a day and notice how your ability to handle life’s stressors improve! Just learn here how to relieve stress.

 

What are your favourite techniques? Comment below to let us know!


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SOS: Save Our Sinuses! 

 

Do you know what’s the absolute worst? A sinus infection 🙁 

Symptoms include: burning and painfully inflamed sinuses, runny nose, stuffy ears, impacted eyesight, headache, tears, a bleak outlook on life… (okay that last one is just us)

As someone who’s sinuses have a personal vendetta against them – I understand your frustration 110%!

When you say your face hurts so bad – I feel you!

When your head is pounding and your nose burns – I feel you!

And when it’s painful to cry? – I feel you too!

Every year my ears, nose, and throat ally-up and wage war against the rest of my body. Every year I anticipate their treason. One of my go-to self-care treatments: WET SOCKS.

The Wet Socks Solution:

By applying cold the to feet, the body’s natural reaction is to warm them up. In order to do so, it increases blood flow to the feet (which naturally draws fluid away from the head and sinuses).

Here’s how to do it:

You will need a pair of cotton socks and a pair of wool ones. Soak the cotton socks in COLD water, and then ring them out thoroughly. Begrudgingly put cold damp socks on feet. Put wool socks on over top. Go to sleep. You’ll wake up in the night with hot feet, dry socks, and a clear head!

This protocol works best before the sinus infection gets too complicated – when that happens: see your trusted naturopathic doctor for solutions for your symptoms!

Reclaim your face!

#ProTip:

If the socks aren’t cold enough, try freezing the dampened socks! Visit Now!


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