Digestive issues have become so commonplace in our society today that it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have gut issues.
Although the most common problems are acid reflux, constipation, gas, bloating and IBS, there’s another digestive monster that can quietly sneak up on you and you might not even know you have it.
That is until you suddenly have a 4-alarm fire in your chest suddenly and feel like Puff the Magic Dragon.
This lesser-known but still capable-of-creating-great-misery condition is known as a hiatal hernia.
Here’s the scoop on this sly little monster that is much more common than you think:
Hiatal hernia—your stomach’s movin’ on up
Here’s the scoop on hiatal hernia and why it causes the problems it does:
There's a wall of muscle in your abdomen (your diaphragm) that looks like an open umbrella hovering above your stomach.
The diaphragm has a hole in it and that's where your esophagus connects to your stomach at a junction known as your lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Your LES acts like a valve—allowing the food coming down through your esophagus into the stomach, then “shutting the door” so it won’t come back up again.
However, when you have hiatal hernia, the top part of your stomach pushes up through that little hole in your diaphragm and bulges out like this:
When your stomach’s bulging out where it shouldn't, that weakens your LES, making it more like a swinging door and allowing your food and stomach acid to “slide up” into your esophagus.
That’s when you become a fire-breathing dragon. You can also have regurgitation of undigested food and acid as well as chest pain (that’s why many hiatal hernia sufferers initially think they are having a heart attack).
So who can get it?
Researchers estimate that by age 60, up to 60 percent of people have hiatal hernia to some degree because their muscle tone in the diaphragm has weakened.
Hiatal hernia can also be caused by hard coughing, pregnancy, frequent vomiting, lifting heavy objects, straining during bowel movements, overeating and being overweight.
Ways to help
Unfortunately, with hiatal hernia, the mainstream medical options are pretty limited—acid reducers or surgery.
But there are several safer ways to get relief and help keep hiatal hernia under control!
Here are some of the best:
Help encourage sound digestion
When your digestion is smooth and efficient, there is less chance of poorly digested stomach contents blasting up into your esophagus and setting your chest on fire!
Keep your meals simpler—pair proteins OR starches (not both together) with veggies and a tossed salad. Simpler meals like this are MUCH less taxing on your system and can pave the way for easy, breezy digestion. (Check out my Great Taste No Pain system if you need more guidance on food combining.)
Also, many people face the issue of low enzyme output—this is especially true of the elderly, people who use acid reducers, people who eat a lot of processed foods and those who have had gastric surgery.
If you feel enzymes are an issue in your digestion, then a top-quality, complete digestive enzyme formula like Digestizol Max can be a Godsend for you. Enzymes are crucial to the digestive process, and many of our clients are amazed at how great they feel with the enzyme boost they needed!
Many times chiropractic adjustments can help ease the stomach toward a more “normal” position and provide tremendous relief from hiatal hernia.
Do the “Water-Heel Raise” exercise
Here is a little exercise that can help encourage your stomach to stay down where it belongs.
Each morning, drink a glass of warm water. Then while standing, raise your arms out at your sides so they are parallel to the floor. Bend your elbows so your hands touch your chest. Raise your heels, then quickly drop them back down, creating a jolt. Do this 10 times in a row.
After that, stand with your arms straight up in the air and breathe quick breaths in and out keeping your mouth open for 15 seconds.
Yoga helps strengthen your core, which is exactly where your diaphragm and LES are located.
The health-wrecking effects of smoking also include ruining your digestion. If you have hiatal hernia, this is yet another great reason to give up that lethal habit.
Get regular exercise
Exercise helps improve your gut function and peristalsis in your GI tract (which is the muscle contractions that help move your food along).
Plus exercise will help you take off excess weight, which is another contributing factor to hiatal hernia!
Get your doctor’s nod of approval and get moving.
Try aloe vera, cinnamon or chamomile
These are natural anti-inflammatories that are known for easing digestive symptoms. You can check out aloe vera juice, add cinnamon to your cooking or put it into tea, or drink chamomile tea.
Get on the road to feeling better from hiatal hernia now!
To your health,