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Heartburn and susus
May 27, 2023
If you suffer from heartburn plant a susu.
If you suffer from heartburn, plant a susu. It might save you from a lot of pain, and even a nasty stomach tumour.
There are many causes of heartburn; here are a few common examples.
1. An stomach infection by a bug known as Helicobacter pylori.
2. A hiatus hernia.
3. Anti-inflammatory painkillers like ibuprofen.
4. Certain foods, especially coffee, bread and alcohol.
Helicobacter pyloriAn infection of the stomach wall by H pylori often causes a burning pain, typical of a peptic ulcer and gastritis too; it may be worse when you are hungry. Frequent burping is another of the symptoms.
About 30% of adults eating the typical "industrial diet" found in supermarkets are infected by H pylori. It is the number one risk factor for a malignant tumour of the stomach. Clearly it's a serious problem across the board.
Recent research published in the journal Gastroenterology reveals that treating a H pylori infection reduces the risk of stomach cancer by a massive 63%.
Treatment typically involves three different medications; two separate antibiotics at once and a proton pump inhibitor. It's a stubborn bug to eradicate.
A diet high in salt, fat and alcohol is thought to make one vulnerable to this bacterium; all typical of those who eat a lot of their meals away from home.
Prepared grocery store meals too often contain large amounts of fat and salt; a recipe for heartburn, a H pylori infection and ultimately stomach cancer.
They found that malignant stomach tumours were relatively rare amongst those who had no Helicobacter infection; 3.5 per 10,000 people.
"About 30% of people in the United States are infected with H pylori, which is the number one known risk factor for stomach cancer."
- Dr Dan Li, MD
Hiatus herniaThe chest and abdomen are separated by a thin sheet of muscle known as the diaphragm; it must be penetrated by the oesophagus, carrying food from the mouth to the stomach.
Roughly one in five adults have a hiatus hernia; about a half cause no symptoms whatsoever. A part of the stomach bulges through the diaphragm into the chest cavity.
It's common in older folk, affecting more than half of those over the age of 50.
These are some of the common symptoms.
1. Heartburn especially when lying down after a meal.
2. One often feels you are going to be sick. Regurgitation is common and sometimes vomiting up vile-tasting liquids; stomach acid and even bile.
3. Burping and feeling bloated.
A hiatus hernia may lead to what is known as GERD; gastro-esophageal reflux disease and in about 1% of cases a malignant tumour.
Anti-inflammatory medicationAbout 30 million Americans take anti-inflammatory medications daily.
Typical are medications known collectively as NSAIDs; non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Examples are Nurofen, Voltaren and Celebrex; and aspirin of course.
They have many serious side-effects including heartburn, stomach ulcers and an internal GI bleed; black blood in the stool.
Coffee, bread and alcoholMany foods aggravate heartburn caused by the conditions named above; coffee, bread and alcohol are common disturbers of a good night's sleep. Typically the pain begins about an hour after going to bed.
Commercial fruit juices were particularly bad for me too.
Alternatives to medicationAre there alternatives to taking medication for heartburn? This is where it gets controversial.
Since the medical profession freely admits that these drugs commonly cause serious side-effects, you too may be wondering if there are more "natural" alternatives.
* Antibiotics taken for long periods have a devastating effect on the all-important microbiome.
* Proton pump inhibitors cause malabsorption of vitamin B12, and controversial reports of a two-fold risk of dementia. There are questions about confounding factors.
* Antacids can actually cause stomach pain, nausea and vomiting.
* Anti-inflammatory drugs are well-known for causing stomach ulcers and heartburn.
Are there commonsense and relatively simple alternatives to the medications? With the proven increased risk of malignant tumours associated with heartburn, we cannot simply play the ostrich and hope we will not be affected.
My journey with heartburnFor some 15 years I suffered with increasing heartburn, starting about an hour after going to sleep at night. Lying recumbent was clearly a large factor since I was rarely affected during the day; gravity helps to prevent reflux.
Two nights a week would find me sitting up in bed, writhing in pain for an hour or two. Four hours after eating dinner the symptoms would subside; I could then sleep normally.
Sometimes I would be very nauseous, feel sick and vomit up my supper; the symptoms would immediately be completely relieved.
Early strategies1. Small meals at night was the first and perhaps most effective early strategy; eating sooner too.
2. Absolutely avoiding coffee and beer after dinner; any liquid in fact. Small sips of water were fine when thirsty.
3. Soup and commercial doughy rolls often provoked a night of misery. Even our 100% wholegrain bread had to be limited to half a slice.
4. Taking a short walk after supper would help.
5. Lying on my left side for the first four hours at night certainly made a difference.
Nevertheless considerable pain and discomfort continued. Eventually I submitted to a gastroscopy which revealed both a Helicobacter pylori infection and a small hiatus hernia; a nasty combination.
The recommended medication completely failed to relieve the symptoms. The doctor said I should be patient and suggested I would probably have to take the pills for the rest of my life; something I was reluctant to do.
A life without
medication was my desire. Was it possible?
Two chance discoveriesTwo chance discoveries led to my deliverance.
1. KefirAn acquaintance introduced me to the importance of the microbiome, all but destroyed by the antibiotics; and gave me a kefir starter.
Kefir is an ancient drink of fermented milk from Eastern Europe; Bulgaria and the Caucasians. It contains more than 30 different friendly bacteria, viruses and yeast cells. Within a week my symptoms were dramatically reduced.
I still had to sleep on my left side after going to bed and dietary indiscretions nonetheless wreaked havoc; but the nights of writhing in pain became rare events. The common sense strategies mentioned above still had to be followed.
My theory is that the large dose of friendly bugs in kefir overwhelmed the Helicobacter infection simply by their numbers. With greatly reduced symptoms I had no desire to have another gastroscopy to confirm my belief.
It takes less than five minutes every morning to strain off the fermented liquid. It is very sour so we use it in various smoothies.
After a month or so I found, having re-established the microbiome that it was necessary only to make our smoothies two or three times a week. And in fact going on holiday for month without kefir caused no relapse.
2. Plant a susuThe second chance discovery came after a friend gave us a susu to plant. That raised my hackles; since childhood I had steadfastly refused to eat the gourd.
But with the susu came new instructions on how to cook it; I was willing to give it one chance.
Not only was the susu cooked that way delicious, fried in olive oil with garlic but it brought great relief to most of the remaining symptoms of my heartburn. I could even sometimes lie on my right side when going to sleep.
This is what is described as an anecdote; it has zero scientific value, merely following my own journey with severe epigastric pain, especially at night.
Don't get me wrong; all is not perfect in the state of Denmark. I still will not drink coffee after a meal and refrain from more than half a slice of bread at night. Soft white doughy rolls are a thing of the past; junk food of the highest order in any case. Commercial pizza is gone forever; instant bellyache if eaten for supper.
But a small slice of our homemade sourdough pizza is fine.
Your journey with heartburnYour journey with heartburn will no doubt be quite different. The scientific evidence behind kefir and ulcers is strong, but the susu is pure anecdote. Nevertheless if you are as desperate as I was, I recommend you give it a try.
Chaote squashThe susu's real name is chaote-squash. It comes from Central America. It has been a game changer for us. Not only has it greatly relieved my indigestion and heartburn but it has provided us with a huge amount of free, highly nutritious food. We have eaten at least one a day for five months this last summer.
The susu is surprisingly high in vegetable protein; many important vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients too. Enjoyed young, fresh from the garden it has become one of our staple foods.
Grit your teeth if you find peeling the susu a slimy business; it is indeed a slippery customer. Beneath that skin is a super-nutrition food. We now use it as a filler in many stews, chutneys and our Eggs Hilton; and as a raw salad with Balsamic vinegar, a teaspoon of natural honey and olive oil.
ConnedI believe we have been seriously conned into believing that we need eat only those dishes that we find supremely tasty and satisfying. Then one will never experience the benefits of foods like chickpeas, kale and the susu; they have subtle, gentle flavours.
What's new?If you have found this newsletter interesting, pop occasionally into What's New at our site. I dip regularly into the latest research; like this one on the importance of having a Helicobacter pylori infection treated.
My current interest is in ascertaining why it is that beekeepers appear to live such long and healthy lives. Is it the natural honey that they enjoy? You'll be most fortunately to find it in the grocery store?
Honey, olive oil and dairy products are the three most adulterated foods in this deceitful world.
Perhaps it is from the pollen that 'keepers enjoy in natural honey comb; or even the stings they collect along the way.
It's all part of our mission to enjoy a life largely without medication. Whole, unprocessed and unrefined food is paramount for those who desire to live long in the land, free from the serious illnesses and pain that dog the footsteps of those on the industrial diet.
SpiritualIt is my belief that caring for the body, and for Mother Earth are spiritual issues; both are spurned by the great majority of folk, with devastating effects for them and the planet.
Could you make a serious effort this week to start recycling your waste and greatly reducing tossed single-use plastic into the garbage; we are poisoning the planet and ourselves to boot.
All sea salt is now contaminated with nano-particles of plastic.
"It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting."
— PAULO COELHO
Interesting new research reveals that almost all type-2 diabetics can put their disease completely into remission, without the use of any medication, simply by a complete overhaul of lifestyle. Could that dream come true for you?
A new patient this morning, less than sixty years old, is looking for help with his leg; a diabetic ulcer causing massive cellulitis. His blood glucose is 23 mmol/L (414 mg/dl). He is a smoker; cigarettes and a diet high in refined carbs and sugar are a killer. His eyesight is severely affected.
Would you be willing to make food your medicine, take regular exercise and give up smoking to save your leg and your eyesight? Father of another patient today cannot make the changes. This coming week his foot will be amputated.
Choose life is our slogan.
To sum upHealthy old age is attainable for most of us; the chances are made up roughly by 20% from our genes that we have no control over, but 80pc by lifestyle.
I have had to face squarely that a malignant stomach tumour was a very real possibility if I did nothing about my heartburn. You will have had to face other issues.
Medicine has solutions; we prefer to explore the more natural alternatives first. That usually demands radical changes in lifestyle. Doing nothing, the ostrich mentality, will mean a slow decline into pain, disability and an early demise.
I was lucky. Including susus and kefir into my food was simple. You may have more difficult issues to face.
If you suffer from heartburn plant a susu; nothing could be simpler. Fermenting milk into kefir too is remarkably easy; I think we should all be doing that in any case. This probiotic is child's play.
Next monthNext month we will look at how you could reduce your electricity bill. Apologies for not addressing this today as promised.
Take care of yourself; look after the planet. Plan to live to a strong and zestful ninety, and who knows perhaps even one hundred.
Don't feel all alone; no one can escape the difficult decisions that must be made if we want to enjoy long and healthy lives.
Till next month,
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Don't spam, but please forward to a few selected friends who you think might be interested in sitting under the trees they once planted, sipping tea and watching the great-grandchildren growing up; and still be able to take long walks.
x Refined maize meal and stunting
x Should agriculture and industry get priority for electricity and water?
x Nature is calling
x Mill your own flour
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x Alternative types of water storage
x Wear your clothes out
x Comfort foods
x Create a bee-friendly environment
x Go to bed slightly hungry
x Keep bees
x Blue zone folk are religious
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x What can go in compost?
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