What can YOU do about hiatal hernia?

A hiatal hernia – aka hiatus hernia – is when part of your stomach moves up through the diaphragm into your chest. Your diaphragm is the big muscle that separates your chest and your abdominal area. It has a small opening (hiatus) through which your food tube (esophagus) passes before connecting to your stomach.

In a hiatal hernia, the stomach pushes up through that opening and into your chest. It’s very common and for most people it’s not causing problems.

For some it can cause symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux though.

If you go to your doctor, they will probably ask you to eat smaller, more frequent meals and do other things to help with the symptoms of GERD.

Plus they will probably advise you to go to the pharmacy for over-the-counter antacids or – if you’ve already done that – prescribe medication.

Is acid lowering medication the only solution?

The medication will make your stomach less acidic – but doesn’t do anything about the hiatal hernia. And lowering stomach acid has a big effect on how well you break down and absorb the nutrients you eat!

You can learn more about the importance of stomach acid in a video I made

Also: if you are diagnosed and have acid reflux, that doesn’t mean that the hiatal hernia is the only reason you have symptoms.

As a functional nutrition practitioner I look for the root causes of health issues. Because you can suppress symptoms, but WHY are they happening in the first place?

Just some reasons why you can have a hiatal hernia:

  • Your diaphragm might have become a bit lax or untrained – it’s a muscle after all! This can also happen when you get older.
  • If you have a big belly or experience bloating, that might push your stomach up
  • When your abdominal muscles are always tense, that might push your stomach up
  • It might happen after an accident or surgery
  • You can also develop a hiatal hernia after coughing, vomiting, straining during a bowel movement, exercising or lifting heavy objects

So what can you do? Here are some ideas!

  • Strengthen your diaphragm with diaphragmatic breathing
  • Lose weight
  • Take care of your gut health so you get rid of the bloating
  • Address constipation so you don’t have to do the straining
  • Work with a chiropractor on other hands-on practitioner who is well versed at visceral manipulation
  • Learn how to do belly breathing so your abdominal muscles get less tense
  • There are several exercises you can do for hiatal hernia: here’s a video with some really helpful ones.

So there are many things you can do before you start yourself on acid lowering medication.

Do you want to get rid of you acid reflux and are you looking for support with this? Let’s talk!

Book a free call here. Speak soon!

Back to the dining table!

We eat 60% of our meals in front of the TV, according to a survey in 2013. The telly – or Netflix – has become a daily companion at our meal times!

But how does that affect your digestion?

Last week I talked about how cooking your own meals can help your acid reflux and IBS symptoms. But if you sit down to eat your meal at the table it gets even better!

If you’re in a calm state your nervous system is in the parasympathetic state. You are in ‘rest and digest’ mode. Your body knows everything is safe, relaxes and focuses on sending more blood to our digestive organs.

However, when you are stressed your body thinks there’s danger. It can’t differentiate between the news on tv and running for a tiger! So it immediately turns the switch to the sympathetic state. It sends more blood to our muscles, heart and lungs because you need to be able to jump up and run away. In dangerous situations it doesn’t make sense to focus on digestion.

When you eat in a stressed state, your digestion only works on half it’s potential – or less!

So what happens if you eat when you’re stressed out, upset, have a difficult conversation or reply to some  work emails during your meal? You will not break down the nutrients very well. And feed unhelpful bacteria that like to produce a lot of gas. The gas can than push up your stomach and result in acid reflux, bloating, burping, stomach pain and the like.

The solution? Resist the urge to eat on the go. Don’t watch the tv or check emails while you eat. Set the table with a nice plate. Light a candle. Make this a time to connect with your partner or family. Or with yourself!

And when your meal is on your plate, take a few seconds to look at it, take some deep breaths and appreciate the food in front of you. It doesn’t take more than that to switch to the rest-and-digest mode. Your tummy will thank you for it.

Is your life very busy and do you struggle to eat healthily because of that?

I wrote down some handy tips that take you out of overwhelm. You can download my free ‘Healthy Eating on the Go’ guide by clicking here.

How cooking your meals can improve your acid reflux and IBS symptoms

Did you know that something simple like cooking your own meals can actually help your digestion?

Imagine this: you decide to make a stew. You start sauteing onions, adding spices, roasting some seeds for your salad, chopping vegetables, washing some greens…. Your kitchen starts filling up with lovely aromas.

What then happens in your body is that this thinking about food, the hands-on preparing and the mouth-watering aromas set off a cascade of processes. And they are key for proper digestion.

Let’s get a bit technical: the hypothalamus in your brain starts signaling to the medulla oblongata in the brainstem: there’s food coming! The medulla’s response is sending out nerve impulses, which travel down the big, wandering nerve – the vagus nerve – to your digestive organs saying: Hey, let’s prepare and be ready for some good food! Your salivary glands start producing more saliva. The cells in your stomach wall ramp up the secretion of stomach acid. Your pancreas and your liver also get the message: start make some enzymes and bile. Together, they help with optimal digestion.

Something else is of course that when you cook your own meals, you decide what’s going in. You’re probably not going to add sugar, low quality oils, emulsifiers and preservatives to your cooking pot. It will be more likely honest whole foods that your body loves and knows how to deal with.

So how does this help your acid reflux and IBS?

Well, when the body is prepared for eating, you will break down your nutrients much better. And you will be able to absorb those nutrients and use them to build tissues and make energy.

Undigested foods can cause an imbalance in the bacteria in your gut. Those critters can produce quite a lot of gas and the result is you feel the bloat and your stomach gets pushed up because of the pressure in your unhappy tummy. And that can result in acid reflux and IBS symptoms like pain, gas and constipation or diarrhea.

Also, for many people low stomach acid is the cause of their acid reflux. I know, that’s not how it feels! When you eat a ready meal or a quick bite on the go and your body is not in ‘digesting mode’, you will have less stomach acid and more chances of experiencing acid reflux.

Is your life very busy and do you struggle to eat healthily because of that?

I wrote down some handy tips that take you out of overwhelm. You can download my free ‘Healthy Eating on the Go’ guide by clicking here.