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Nutritional approaches for acid indigestion.

Have you ever experienced symptoms such as bloating, heaviness, dull stomach pain, or heartburn after a meal? If so, you have had acid indigestion. Most Americans have suffered with it at some time in their lives. Television commercials for medications that treat acid indigestion tend to show acid as the enemy, and the true cause is never addressed. Is acid really a bad thing? Absolutely not! Acid is needed in order to breakdown food for digestion. When antacids are taken to neutralize stomach acid, the stomach secretes even more acid in an attempt to digest food.

Indigestion is caused or aggravated by poor eating habits such as eating irregularly, too much or too rapidly, not chewing food enough, eating when anxious, or eating the wrong food combinations. The best approach is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Proper eating involves chewing food thoroughly and having a calm environment that is not rushed. It involves proper food combinations so that digestion is not over burdened. A simple diet is best to provide relief. As Americans, we eat too much, too fast, under stressed out conditions, and we have poor food choices. We consume far too many refined carbohydrates, and whole grain flour products, white sugar, and artificial stimulants that drain the body and make assimilation of nutrients from whole foods more difficult.

Diet is the essential key to all successful healing. Herbal therapy works best when combined with a therapeutic diet of whole grains, properly cooked foods, and small amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season. This dietary approach is the foundation of traditional ethnic diets of people around the world. To construct a simple balanced diet, the intake of foods can be divided into three categories.

Primary Foods: Whole grains: twenty to thirty percent of the diet (no grains that are refined or milled nor flour products)

Protein, including animal protein, tofu, tempeh, and beans: twenty to thirty percent of the diet (Beans are also high in carbohydrates and should be consumed in smaller portions; vegetable sources of protein, such as tofu and tempeh, are not as high in carbohydrates but need to be consumed in larger volume to equal a corresponding amount of animal protein.)

Secondary Foods: Fresh seasonal vegetables (mostly lightly cooked): thirty to forty percent of the diet.

Tertiary Foods: Dairy, eggs, and fruits: five to ten percent of the diet; fats and oils, including olive oil, sesame oils, and ghee: two percent. (Good sources of fat can be increased once heating has taken place.)

Proteins such as meats, eggs, and dairy are considered first class high protein foods. Proteins have two main functions: to repair tissue and cellular damage as they normally break down, and to stimulate and maintain body metabolism, ff vegetarians are not careful enough with maintaining their protein balance, they experience greater difficulty in heating injuries and broken bones. Overconsumption of refined grains coupled with lack of adequate protein leads to overproduction of insulin, causing the body to store fat. Higher protein in the diet releases glucagon from the liver, which commands the stored fat deposits to be burned. Good sources of fat like olive oil, sesame oil, and clarified butter (ghee) are essential to burn fat and absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. The American Heart Association recommends getting fifteen to thirty percent of our calories from that wonderful substance that makes our food taste so good.

The notion that deficiencies of a certain vitamin or nutrient should be remedied by concentrated doses or supplements is both false and possibly very dangerous. If our diet is properly balanced, we have no need for supplements. Most deficiencies are caused by a breakdown of physical metabolism rather than a particular nutrient missing from the food we eat. If our diet is in balance, our body has the capacity to produce enough of the necessary vitamins needed to maintain health. More important than vitamins in our diet are assimilable minerals. Mineral deficiencies are most severe in people who have eaten primarily imbalanced "vegetarian" diet high in fruits, juices, liquids, and raw salads. To supplement possible trace mineral deficiencies, one need only add a small amount of a sea vegetable such as kelp, dulse, nori, kombu, wakame, arame, or hijiki (hiziki) to the daily diet. This can be done by adding sea vegetables to soups, eating seaweed salads, or taking six tablets of dulse or kelp per day.

When all the offending foods are eliminated, it is also necessary to properly combine the foods eaten. This will ensure that digestion is not over-burdened and assist in strengthening the digestion. The basic rules for food combining are the following: Avoid eating fruits with other foods, especially proteins. (Melons are best eaten alone because they digest rapidly and ferment easily in the stomach.) Avoid sugary desserts right after other foods. Mixing more than one protein at a meal is hard on the digestive system. Milk does not combine well with other foods. Dairy foods go best with grains or less starchy green vegetables. Proteins combine well with green, less starchy vegetables, and whole grains combine well with green vegetables also.

There are many kitchen spices that are helpful in assisting the digestive system. Ginger is of great benefit to the stomach, intestines, and circulation and should be added to meat dishes to help the intestines detoxify the meat. Ginger tea is made by grating one ounce of fresh ginger and simmering it for ten minutes in a pint of water. Caraway is an excellent aid to digestion: a tea is made by crushing one ounce of seeds in a pint of boiled water and steeping twenty minutes, or letting the seeds stand in cold water overnight. The tea is taken in frequent doses of two tablespoons until relief is obtained. Rosemary is also useful for indigestion and gas: a tea is made by adding one half ounce of rosemary to a pint of boiled water and steep for ten minutes in a covered vessel. Organic apple cider vinegar that has not been pasteurized or filtered contains many enzymes, minerals, and organic malic acid which is helpful in dissolving body toxins. Apple cider vinegar stimulates digestion if taken five minutes before meals. If held in the mouth for thirty seconds, it stimulates ptyalin secretion for starch digestion as well as stimulates gastric enzyme secretion. The amount taken may vary from a few drops to two tablespoons in water before meals or in salad dressing.

Miso (fermented soy) is found in a paste in most natural food stores and is a preliminary digestive aid to a main dish or a simple, easy, digested meal in itself. Miso contains a number of valuable bacteria such as lactobacilli which aid in digestion by helping to break down carbohydrates, protein, and the cellulose found in practically all vegetable food. Without these favorable bacteria, we cannot digest healthy foods properly.


Haas, E.M. (1981, 2003). Staying Healthy With the Seasons. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts.

Cousens, G. (2000). Conscious Eating. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Tierra, M. (1998). The Way of Herbs. New York: Pocket Books.
Deb's Cleanse Soup Recipe

3 green onions chopped
1/2 brown onion chopped
1 celery stalk with the leaves
fresh broccoli and asparagus
 chopped, as much as you want
 to add
(2) 32 ounce organic vegetable broth in the carton
(1) 28 oz can of pureed tomatoes
2 vegetable bullion cubes
2 cups water
Salt and pepper, a pinch each or to taste
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil (first cold pressed)
1 tsp of cumin or to taste

Sautee the onions and celery in the olive oil with the salt and
pepper for five to ten minutes, until soft, add the liquids and the
bullion cubes and bring to a boil, enough to melt the bullion. Add
the cumin to taste and then the broccoli and asparagus, Lower heat
and simmer until veggies and to your desired texture. Enjoy with
brown rice, quinoa, or wild rice, or by itself.

Deborah Love, RN, BNHS, NO Candidate, has worked in the medical field for over 24 years. She is certified in Nutritional Therapy through the International Foundation for Nutrition and Health, and she has worked with private clients promoting health, developing personal fitness programs and teaching nutrition for over thirteen years. She serves on the Buncombe County, NC Environmental Advisory Board as the Medical representative. Contact her at Health Flow at 828-279-6701.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Natural Arts
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:soul kitchen
Author:Love, Deborah
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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