Indigestion is the inability to digest food eaten. Symptoms of indigestion include pain in the stomach, heartburn, bloating, a feeling of fullness hours after eating, and gas. Stomach pain can be related to mores serious issues such as a stomach cancer, but rarely.
The generally accepted theory is that stomach pain related to indigestion is brought on by an excess production of acid in the stomach and the proposed solution is either an over-the-counter or prescription product to either neutralize the acid (antacid) or stop the flow of acid (proton pump inhibitors). A study of physiological processes don't support the theory, and though the remedies may reduce the pain and other symptoms they are not ultimately beneficial and instead will contribute to the gradual decline of bodily systems through functional starvation.
Food digestion is a complex process of which only a portion occurs in the stomach, where the primary action is to partially digest protein and fats, and the means of digestion is hydrochloric acid. Acid, then, is essential to the digestive process. If we do not produce acid, digestion is inhibited, which results in a reduction of raw materials to be used by the body for maintenance, repair and energy. The production of acid is a highly controlled process and overproduction of acid does not explain stomach pain.
The stomach is made of a skin substance. Skin is susceptible to being burned by acid, creating pain. Burns damage skin. To prevent such damage, the stomach and esophagus are lined with a protective layer composed of fats and proteins. This lining, like all the tissues of the body must be maintained and the raw materials for maintenance are provided through nutrition.
If you read the article on stress (read it now) you may remember that in times of stress the body shuts down the digestive process, which inhibits nutrition, which in turn inhibits the ability to repair and maintain the lining of the stomach. In times of chronic stress the body resorts to alternative means of producing energy to meet the demands placed upon it, and one of its processes is to catabolize the stomach lining to convert the protein into energy. When the protein is removed, the lining gives way and now the stomach skin is exposed to acid produced in the digestive process, resulting in burn, of which the warning sign is pain. If the burn is so severe as to damage the skin of the stomach the result is a bleeding ulcer. And - again - if a person is not digesting due to a lack of stomach acid, neither the stomach nor the lining can be healed due to a lack of resources.
Our education and experience informs us in most cases indigestion and a compromised stomach can be eliminated through dietary modification.
Dietary modification includes:
- Decreasing or eliminating a food or foods from the diet
- Adding or increasing a food or foods to the diet
- Adding digestive and therapeutic enzymes to the diet in order to allow digestion of food eaten.
Determination of what dietary modifications are required to resolve a person's chronic indigestion can only be made through direct examination and clinical testing. If you suffer from chronic primary indigestion we recommend our Complete Nutritional Workup.
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