Tips For Naturally Treating Barrett’s Esophagus
Barrett’s esophagus is not a fun condition to have. I know, because I went through it! And thousands more do every single year. In this article we will talk about tips for naturally dealing with this along with my own experience with certain tips! I hope you come out of this empowered and knowing that you have the ability to make things more comfortable for yourself. The ability to heal!
What is Barrett’s Esophagus?
Barrett’s Esophagus is when the cells within your esophagus start to look like the exact cells that make up your intestines. It can often happen when cells are damaged within the esophagus- usually from acid exposure from the stomach.
Very typical we will see this develop after years of gastroesophageal reflux aka GERD. It is so important to treat because in some cases it can eventually become esophageal cancer. But don’t be fearful, less than one percent turns into cancer. But of course, it is important to be on top of it and heal as fast as possible.
What causes Barrett’s Esophagus?
Unfortunately it’s one of those conditions where the cause is not entirely known. It could be a number of things. We do know that this is often seen in people with GERD. So to say GERD is a top cause would be correct, but it wouldn’t necessarily be the ONLY cause.
What causes GERD?
GERD happens when the muscles towards the bottom of your esophagus do not work as well anymore. Muscles become weak and it won’t prevent acid and food from coming back up the esophagus. Anyone who has experienced this, even mild acid reflux, knows how horrible it can be.
With GERD, it is thought that the esophagus cells become abnormal from chronic stomach acid exposure over a long period of time.
With my own personal diagnosis of Barrett’s Esophagus, there came a whole slew of additional dietary recommendations. A lot of the foods I would love to be able to eat for healthy, whole living are not an option because of the symptoms of Barrett’s. It turns out that a lot of the more acidic foods like tomatoes, onions and garlic cause uncomfortable symptoms. The same is often true for those who suffer from reflux, indigestion, or GERD. But aside from avoiding those foods, what more can we do? I have tips!
Tips for Naturally Dealing with Barrett’s Esophagus
1. Avoid highly acidic and spicy foods
So let’s start with one of the number one tips that anyone with Barrett’s will hear: Avoid more acidic foods! It is true, this really does help. You should also be avoiding spicy foods- especially ones that contain capsaicin which has been shown to cause intestinal discomfort.
Highly salted and fatty foods are not great for this condition either. Don’t overdo it on pizza, fries, fast food, cheese, etc, All of which are acidic foods!
2. Avoid specific fruits
Yes, even certain fruits can be tough on the stomach when you are dealing with Barrett. Fruits you will want to avoid are mainly citrus fruits, as well as pineapple. The problem with a lot of these fruits are that they can cause heartburn. There was a study done with 400 patients, and 73% of them experienced heartburn after eating citrus foods.
3. Eat lots of fiber rich foods
Interestingly, a lot of fiber-rich foods are alkaline! Which is what we want if you have Barrett’s. What fiber can help you do is one- prevent Barrett’s from happening again and two- it can help your systems at the very least, not get worse. It has also been shown that eating foods rich in fiber when you have Barrett’s can help make it so that it doesn’t turn into cancer.
4. Try eating pure aloe vera
Studies have shown that pure, unadulterated aloe vera (the gel) can lessen the discomfort of digestion symptoms. Not only is it cooling and soothing to the skin when you are out in the sun too long, but it is cooling and soothing to the stomach. Isn’t it interesting how it works that way no matter where it goes? Aloe helps to stimulate cells within the stomach lining to increase mucus production. This works to insulate, soothe, and protect the stomach from irritants as well as reduce inflammation that can trigger GERD responses and reflux.
For a plant with as many health benefits as aloe vera, I often wonder why it is not more talked about. Why aren’t more people consuming aloe vera? For me, consuming aloe as close to its natural state was a game-changer specially with Barrett’s diagnosis. It is natural, clean, and offers countless health benefits. There are no side-effects of consuming aloe vera other than better quality of life. What’s not to love about that?
5. Invest in a high quality pillow
I cannot tell you how much it helped me to sleep with a pillow that helped calmed my symptoms of Barrett’s Esophagus. It helps stop acid reflux and thus allows you to have a better night’s sleep.
Sleeping is an incredibly healing state to be in and if we are getting interrupted, poor-quality sleep then we will heal at a much slower rate. This is the pillow I loved the most. This particular pillow was even used in 7 different human clinical trials and it was shown to work.
You want a pillow that supports you a specific angle, when you click the link you will see how intricate it is. It’s not as simple as just raising your head higher at night, which can still help, but you can take it even one step further by getting a pillow that really gives results.
6. Quit smoking
If you smoke, now is the time to stop. It should be done for overall health but especially for something like Barrett’s Esophagus! And how does smoking impact this condition? NYU Langone Health says this: “People with Barrett’s esophagus who smoke have a higher risk of developing esophageal cancer than those who don’t. Smoking increases the production of stomach acid and weakens the muscular valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach. Smoking can also decrease the production of saliva, which neutralizes acid.”
7. Manage your weight
Maintaining a healthy weight can be helpful for lessening or preventing symptoms of Barrett’s Esophagus. I include this because it is so important and it is thought by doctor’s that having a higher body weight than what is right for your body can encourage GERD to develop.
8. Be careful with how you drink water
In Ayurveda practices, they believe that water should be sipped slow and throughout the day. It is believed in that practice that guzzling water while eating a meal can cause not only reflux but also weight gain. It is best to drink your water before and after meals as this is less tough on the body to process. Your digestive enzymes will not get watered down with food.
9. Consider if taking collagen is right for you
Adding collagen to your diet can also help treat acid reflux, but it is not right for everyone. Collagen can help regulate stomach acid production. One of the key components to acid reflux and GERD is actually a lack of adequate stomach acid, not an excess of it. If there isn’t enough stomach acid, your food can’t be properly digested, and all kinds of issues are created. When I was diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus, I began taking collagen, my symptoms improved dramatically, as my stomach was finally able to process food in the way it’s supposed to.
I entertained the idea of eating collagen because it helped with my digestion and with IBS. I did it for a short while but something in me said I had to stop. I really didn’t know why but considering that ever since I started my journey I completely focused on a plant-based diet, something in me felt uneasy when taking collagen, even if it came from a high-quality source, so I stopped. Collagen wasn’t naturally flowing for me. So again, you need to decide what is best for you. I just share this tip because I know it can be beneficial for some.
10. Wear loose and comfortable clothing
This last tip seems small, but can go a long way. Tight tops, bras, or sports bra can create a “squeezing” feeling. It can put external pressure at the end of your sternum where the esophagus and stomach meet. Loosen up your clothing, stay comfortable! Every little bit helps.
If you are protective, you can heal! If you are proactive, you can alleviate symptoms! If you are not proactive, you cannot heal (unless God grants you healing) and you cannot alleviate symptoms. These tips may seem small but together they really add up. You can naturally make a big difference!