Lately it seems like everyone I talk to is dealing with some kind of chronic stomach ailment. It?s so common that I’ll approach someone I know and say ?Hi how are you?? and they answer ?Ugh my stomach?s a mess. Must be something I ate.? If it?s someone I know well, I often hear complaints of acid reflux (heartburn), gas or bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, constipation, abdominal cramping or sharp pains, etc. My Italian relatives sum all these symptoms up in one word: ?agita?. Instead of actually saying you have gas or diarrhea or any of the aforementioned symptoms, all you need to say is ?I’ve got agita? and that’s it. Enough said, everyone gets the picture.

She’s got agita.

If I ask someone with chronic agita what they are doing about it I most often hear: ?I’ve been on Nexium (or Prilosec, Zantac, Prevacid, etc.) for years?it worked fine at first but then it stopped working.? Yet they still take it. Or better yet, they go to the doctor who either ups the dosage or switches them to a similar drug. If symptoms are really bad the doctor might even order tests like upper GI (UGI) scans or endoscopies (which requires anesthesia) to check for polyps or ulcers or other problems.

 

Why the heck do people (and doctors) let it get to that point?!

 
I am not a doctor, but I know that ulcers, and many other digestive issues are caused by inflammation. Even the ones caused by the H. pylori bacteria can be traced back to an inflamed digestive tract, because inflammation weakens the immune system which helps existing harmful bacteria become stronger and multiply. Inflammation either caused by or combined with a poor diet also facilitates the colonization and propagation of the area with yeast (Candida albicans). These conditions wreak havoc on the digestive system. Since more than 70% of the body?s immune defenses are located in the digestive tract, it makes perfect sense that a compromised and inflamed digestive tract causes many other negative issues in the rest of the body. Sometimes it can be something really annoying but not too serious like acne or rosacea, but unfortunately more serious health events like cancer can occur.

Inflammation is caused by excessive acid in the digestive tract. Most prescription and OTC drugs that people take to reduce symptoms of agita are in the same class of drugs. Nexium, Prevacid, and Prilosec are all known as proton pump inhibitors. They all work by decreasing the amount of acid made in the stomach. Zantac is in a different class of drugs called H2 blockers which also works by decreasing the amount of acid made in the stomach.

 

Decreasing the amount of acid made in the stomach will only make agita worse.

 
There are conditions where the stomach naturally produces too much acid, such as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome; but for the most part the stomach produces the correct amount of acid to digest the foods we should be eating.

We need to have acid in our stomachs to properly digest our food. Decreasing the amount of acid in the stomach only means that the stomach will have to work too hard to digest food, which will result in more inflammation and a build-up of undigested food in the digestive tract. This undigested food will literally start to rot and produce acid, yeast, and toxins. This causes more agita. If this wasn?t the case, then why do all of these acid-reducing drugs have these common side effects (plus even more serious ones):

  • stomach pain
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • gas
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • headache
  • dizziness

 

 
The first six side effects? Agita.

 
Excessive acid in a normal person?s stomach is not the stomach?s fault. It is the result of the person eating too many acidic foods. By transitioning our diets from primarily acidic foods over to primarily alkaline foods, we can reduce or even eliminate chronic agita completely.

The following foods either are acidic or produce an acidic reaction in the body and should be reduced or avoided completely*:
  • ?Alcohol
  • ?Many medications such as antibiotics and steroids
  • ?Animal protein (includes animal products like meat?meaning red meat, poultry, pork, and fish?as well as all dairy products)
  • ?Refined sugars and artificial sweeteners
  • ?Nicotine
  • ?White flour, wheat, barley, and other gluten-containing foods
  • ?Processed foods
  • ?Sodas and other artificial beverages
  • ?Caffeine

The following are the most alkaline foods* that are the easiest to digest and will also neutralize any excessive acids in the digestive tract. They also facilitate internal organ cleansing and detoxification. These foods make up the majority of a healthy diet.

 

  • ?Greens
  • ?Sprouts
  • ?Ripe fruits
  • ?Non-starchy vegetables

 

How will I get enough protein?

 

I know it?s hard to believe that plant foods can give us adequate protein since many of us were raised eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) which taught us we need to eat x number of servings of meat and dairy to get our daily recommended amounts of protein?otherwise we would wither up and fade into nothing. Yes, we absolutely need to eat protein; but we need to primarily eat protein that comes from organic plant foods because they do not contain any of the animal byproducts like excessive cholesterol that cause serious health problems. Most people do not realize that alkaline plant foods are high in protein, and consuming enough of them on a daily basis will provide more than the recommended daily amount.

We need to rethink this…

If you are a meat lover, you can still have your meat. Nobody is forcing you to become a vegetarian, so don’t get all bent out of shape. If you are going to eat meat, make sure it is local and organic; or otherwise raised without antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, and that it is produced without harmful preservatives like BHA or BHT, nitrates, nitrites, or fillers. Eat a reasonable sized portion, not a gigantic supersized one like you might find in a restaurant. Clinical nutritionist Kimberly Snyder recommends that meat should be limited to no more than two to three times a week, and it should be consumed after a large serving of alkaline plant foods (a big green salad) during the last meal of the day.

On a personal note and without revealing TMI?

 

I suffered from chronic agita for a good part of my life; as a child, a teenager, up until recently. I have never been one to eat massive quantities of vegetables. I always liked salad, and I never disliked vegetables, but I just liked other foods better. I never ate enough fruits and vegetables, even by the SAD?s standards. Like many other people, I also don’t like change. So when I tell you I am the last person I would ever expect to be whipping up green smoothies I mean it. My family members couldn’t believe it either. And not only do I make and drink my green smoothies and juices on a regular basis, I really enjoy them. When I wake up in the morning I actually look forward to having my green smoothie, and if I don’t have it I don’t have as much energy throughout the day. Within a week or two of starting to eat more alkaline foods and less acidic foods my agita became a distant memory. I threw out all my Tums, Pepto Bismol, and Zantac. I even threw out my all natural one, Gasalia.

Delish

If you are someone who suffers from either a minor or serious form of agita, I urge you to change your diet. I know it is much easier to pop a pill, but I am telling you from personal experience that it will not make you feel better and it may actually make your agita get worse and potentially very serious.

Again, I am not a doctor and I have no authority to diagnose any condition or advise anyone to start or stop taking a medication. You should consult with your licensed healthcare professional for that. All I know is what worked for me personally; and that many holistic-minded doctors, dieticians, nutritionists, and even aestheticians like me are telling their clients to make these changes. If something you are taking is actually making you feel worse, I’m sorry but it?s crazy to keep taking it. You have nothing at all to lose by eating foods that are good for you?except agita and maybe some weight.

 
Some great resources:

 
*Snyder K. 2011. The Beauty Detox Solution: Eat Your Way to Radiant Skin, Renewed Energy and the Body You’ve Always Wanted. Don Mills, Ontario: Harlequin.

**Heartburn image from Dr. Mercola; food pyramid image from Reason. Hit and Run; green smoothie image from Thank God I’m Natural.

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