Since we came back from Italy, I’ve been wondering deeply about one thing, and that thing is this:Â why is it that while we were there, my acid reflux gave me hardly any trouble at all?Â Â
I began by being very careful what I ate, but soon realised that I could eat ribollita (plenty of onions in that) and fried potatoes, and food swimming in olive oil and small amounts of garlic. I could drink wine every day.Â I could eat bread and pizza.Â Â I have to admit that there were also biscotti and chocolate in sizeable amounts, too.Â I drank orange juice!Â I ate peaches and peach sorbet!Â And I drank coffee all day.
So what, I asked myself, was I doing so differently in Italy that could so drastically improve my acid reflux for the duration of the holiday?
I made a list.
1 – I thought perhaps I wasn’t sitting around so much in chairs… but on the other hand I was sitting around for long periods touring in the car, and in fact I was sitting for quite long periods in restaurants
2 – I was drinking coffee and very little tea
3 – My diet included hardly any unrefined carbs, like wholemeal bread or pasta or wholegrain rice
4 – I drank a lot of bottled water
5 – I was eating regularly, most days including breakfast
6 – Meals were taken slowly, due to restaurant service leaving gaps between courses.Â However, there was a LOT of food, so these weren’t necessarily light meals.
7 – Didn’t eat or drink much after 9pm, though meals often lasted until 9pm!
Oh, and …
8 – I ate a LOT less in the way of vegetables.Â But aren’t they supposed to be good for us?
I thought about it.
Bread gives me a lot of trouble here in England.Â Much of the time I cut it out altogether, especially if I can’t get the Alta Mura bread or the Cranks wholemeal, both of which I tolerate a lot better than Chorleywood* breads.Â I’ve thought in the past that it was the yeast, and I still think that’s at least partly true.Â Cranks bread does use yeast, but it uses a lot less yeast and a very long fermentation time so that the yeast in the bread is more ‘used up’ by the time it’s cooked.Â I have no idea if that’s important, but it feels as if it is.Â However, it Italy, I was eating white bread, much of it very fresh white bread – the sort I usually avoid like the plague.
We are told that unrefined carbohydrates are good for us, but this was certainly a big difference. If IÂ make a pasta meal for myself at home, it’s usually with wholemeal pasta, and I tend to buy wholemeal crackers, too.Â Â Â Hmm…
This week I have cut tea out of my diet and added in more coffee, and if I drink water I’m using bottled water.Â I’m also not eating too late in the evening and I haven’t eaten very much at all in the way of wholemeal goods, but I’m not back to where I was.Â Why?Â Somebody tell me why!!
I have to say I’m beginning to suspect the water supply.Â After having done some research online, I see that flouride, chlorine and chloramine (a mixture of chlorine and ammonia) are all thought to cause acid reflux by many people.Â Well, our water supply isn’t flouridated, but it is chloraminated and it would be nice to think the solution were that simple.
Stress?Â Well, we all know that we are supposed to be a lot less stressed and more relaxed on holiday, but for me this isn’t necessarily so. As an asthmatic with a feather allergy and many food allergies, I worry when I’m away. I worry about food, and whether the waiters have really understood what I’ve said to them and taken it seriously, and I worry when I change lodgings because 50% of the time someone will have left feather pillows on the bed. Or a feather duvet, or a feather mattress pad.Â I was also worried this time because Sid was most unwell when we left and though he was improving and being cared for by the best possible person (his trainer) I hated to leave him and I wondered how he was doing often.
So.Â I would LOVE to get off the PPIs**.Â They are seriously not good for you long term, but then, neither is acid reflux.Â Â The trouble is, we are all subjected, every day, to quite a lot of things that are not good for you: exhaust fumes, chemicals in our water and food, antibiotic residues in our meat, heavy metals in our fish, pesticides on our vegetables.Â Pollution of innumerable kinds in our air.Â You may say ‘well, I’ve been consuming and inhaling all those things for decades and they haven’t hurt me yet’, but is that really true?Â How do we know that all this crap in our lives isn’t the reason for the rise in autoimmune diseases like asthma and allergies?Â For the huge rise in cancers?Â For metabolic disorders like Hashimoto’s Disease, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, heart disease and the rest?
I’m not really a conspiracy theorist.Â When I’m doing my research online, I tend to avoid those sites that use heavy, lurid headlines and over use bold text within paragraphs with lots of repetition and offers of fancy (and expensive) devices or supplements to shield and protect and detoxify you from this or that menace.Â However, the fact is that we do live in a sea of chemicals and radiation and contaminants these days, and it doesn’t seem right.
There’s also the problem that doctors seem to rely so very heavily on drugs for this and that.Â ‘Oh, you have ‘X’ disorder, take these tablets’, they say.Â And sometimes, bless them, they appear to forget that pharmaceuticals can cause problems too.Â Is it any wonder that so many of us are looking for alternative therapies?
Anyway. To get back to the main point, I have not stopped taking my PPIs, but the fact remains that even with them, here in England, I suffer reflux a lot.Â And in Italy, I suffered a whole lot less, despite going a bit nuts in the nutrition department.
So again, I have to ask: why is this?
Am I allergic to England?
* Chorleywood bread is bread made by a super-fast process which involves a lot more yeast and a lot less fermentation time.
** PPIs are Protein Pump Inhibitors, prescribed to reduce stomach acid and treat gastric reflux.