Heartburn and acid reflux can be helped by some simple lifestyle changes.
Eating smaller, more frequent meals, trying to lose weight if you’re overweight, and raising one end of your bed 10 to 20cm by putting something under your bed or mattress, are some of the ways to ease heartburn, recommended by the NHS.
But some health experts believe supplements are the answer – in particular probiotics, says nutritional therapist, Natalie Lamb from Bio-Kult. (www.bio-kult.com)
Acid reflux and the subsequent sensation of heartburn have been associated with poor digestive function and an imbalance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, according to Natalie. Therefore probiotics, which can be found in food, as well as supplements, may be the answer to soothing heartburn.
Natalie added: “Live bacteria supplements are often consumed to help tackle pathogenic bacterial or yeast overgrowth and to support healthy digestive function. Researchers are now observing that when a person thinks they are suffering from heartburn the problem could actually be caused by insufficient acid in the stomach.
“The digestive tract needs sufficient acid to digest proteins, absorb vitamins and minerals, and fight off pathogenic bacteria.
“This theory suggests that it takes longer for the stomach to break down the food; the undigested food then begins to ferment in the stomach producing gas which results in pushing up the stomach acid into the oesophagus. Both an overgrowth of H. pylori in the stomach and stress may reduce stomach acidity. Live bacteria supplements such as Bio-Kult Advanced Multi-Strain Formula, containing 14 different strains, have been shown to help inhibit H. pylori overgrowth in the stomach and be useful in reducing stress levels.”
Probiotics don’t just help with gut health and heartburn. There are four more surprising things they can assist with.
As we age our skin gets thinner, drier, less elastic and less able to protect itself from damage.
Natalie explained: “Sun damage and dehydration are two causes of wrinkles appearing on the skin. The skin is colonised by a diverse range of microorganisms. Live bacteria supplements taken orally have been shown in several studies to prevent ageing damage induced by chronic UV irradiation1-3 and in a recent 12 week study to improve skin hydration, significantly reduce wrinkle depth, improve skin gloss and skin elasticity by 22 per cent.”
Eliminating bad breath
Your mouth could be considered like a window reflecting the health deep within the rest of the body, particularly the gut, said Natalie.
She added: “Poor digestion, constipation, Candida albicans, food intolerances, toxic load, gastroesophageal reflux disease, H. pylori and an overgrowth of the wrong type of intestinal bacteria can just as easily lead to the embarrassing problem of bad breath. Some live bacteria supplements have been detected in the mouth for a short time after consumption, shown to survive saliva and to reduce compounds in the mouth that cause bad smells.”
Magic-ing Away Migraines
An increased frequency of gut disorders has been observed in those suffering with migraines and alterations in the composition of bacteria in the gut have been linked to the occurrence of migraines.
Natalie said: “This could be due to the gut being talked about as our ‘second brain’, to a porous gut lining known as ‘leaky gut’ that lets through substances it shouldn’t or to a chronic inflammatory response.
“Live bacteria supplements have the ability to modulate the gut bacteria, support the health of the gut lining and interact with the 70 per cent of the immune system that resides in the gut helping to regulate the inflammatory response. Studies in migraine sufferers have shown significant reductions in migraine severity following live bacteria supplementation.”
Curbing Food Cravings
Different bacteria require certain foods for their growth. Some bacteria can interfere with our nervous system and alter our taste perceptions and cravings for certain foods.
Natalie explained: “Yeasts and pathogenic bacteria for example love simple carbohydrates and refined sugars and crave those foods to enable their survival. Beneficial strains on the other hand prefer vegetables described as prebiotic foods. They are found naturally in foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, onion, garlic, asparagus, leeks and bananas.
“It could be possible therefore, that by improving the balance of the gut flora by increasing beneficial strains, cravings for high sugar and starch foods will actually reduce.”