As soon as Jimmy laid on his back, he knew he was going to have trouble. Almost immediately he felt fluid moving through his stomach followed by an intense burning pain in his chest. He had to put his mind at ease; people’s lives were at stake. No matter what your job is it’s hard to balance your life if your body is out of balance. As a performer and acrobat, Jimmy’s life was about balance, but what about balancing the pain of heartburn?
“Hup!” Jimmy calls to his two partners, indicating he is ready. His partners are directly above him. Cameron is laying down with only Jimmy’s feet to support him while Margaret stands on Cameron’s abdomen. Margaret has her hula hoop in place with three lit torches attached. Meanwhile, the three knives Jimmy is holding have also been lit ablaze. This is the finale; he only needs to get through this one last trick.
One by one the flaming knives are hurled into the air, all the while the flaming pain in Jimmy’s chest intensifies and moves up to his throat. Just a few more cycles. Throw, catch, throw, and catch again, mere inches from his face. Finally, Margaret grabs her hula hoop and climbs down. The show is over. Jimmy is relieved but the heartburn pain continues.
Jimmy Freer is a traveling performer for an acrobatic, comedy, and danger show known as Barely Balanced. In this show, he is the base for most of their stunts where he must lay on his back and hold his partners in the air with his feet while fantastic acts of acrobatics are performed. Being a part of this show takes intense training and physical endurance. Distractions during the show can ruin the performance or even lead to serious injury.
A Battle with Acid Reflux
Several years ago, Jimmy began suffering from acid reflux, which would create a burning pain in his chest nearly every time he would eat. Before too long, it began consuming his life. He began planning his life around when he could eat and whether he could afford to be in pain or not. A few years into his plight, however, the acid began brewing even when he had not just eaten. It was at this time he knew he needed help. As is common when health concerns arise, he turned to medicine.
Six months later, Jimmy continued to see a decline. Despite the acid reducing medication keeping his symptoms at bay, the intensity and frequency of his heartburn began increasing. It was around this time he also realized he had also been experiencing bouts of depression and probably had been for a long time. It was time to try something different.
Finding the Wellness Way and Balancing the Pain of Heartburn
Jimmy began his journey to health at The Wellness Way in the summer of 2018. It was an eye-opening experience for him. He began to realize that much of the stress from life on the road had been catching up with him. Living out of a trailer for most of the year is also not conducive to healthy dietary habits. Jimmy had to work hard to undo many bad habits he had learned over the years. These habits also left him with 14 food allergies, low Vitamin D (despite working outdoors year-round), elevated blood sugar (despite being very physically active), and low testosterone.
Making these changes was hard and many struggles ensued. At first, he was resistant to the changes being requested of him. He began taking the recommended supplements and avoided a few of his food allergies but wasn’t ready for more than that. Within the first month, however, Jimmy realized he didn’t need to take his acid reducers as much anymore. This is when he started to think differently and realized he was on the right path.
Many hard choices and salads later, Jimmy started noticing more and more change within himself in addition to his newfound ability to eat without pain. He suddenly had more stamina during his performances. Heat was easier to tolerate. He could also think more clearly and was often in a much happier mood throughout the day.
Changing the Understanding of Stomach Acid
Unfortunately, stories like Jimmy’s are becoming more common. With our diets becoming more and more processed and refined, our bodies are forced to adapt to the environment we’re presenting to it. Most diets consist primarily of processed grains, which will lower our stomach acid levels.
“Wait, isn’t acid reflux a result of too much stomach acid?” Jimmy asked upon learning this. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Your stomach needs acidity to be healthy. The main role of the stomach, in fact, has nothing to do with digestion. Rather, it is sterilization. Food is a foreign substance to our bodies and the high acid levels are integral in ensuring any microbes tagging along with our food is properly sterilized.
The second major role of our stomach is to break down proteins. This process also requires adequate acidity. Without it, we will not have proper protein production within our bodies. Without stomach acid you cannot properly digest protein. For someone with an incredibly physical job, digestion of protein is quite important.Additionally, the hormones that support proper brain function are also protein-based. As it turns out, Jimmy was worsening his depression by taking his acid reducers.
Balancing the Pain of Heartburn
Jimmy is feeling stronger than ever and truly believes that his decision to take control of his health has not only improved his symptoms but made him a healthier person and extended his career. If you find yourself in the audience of a Barely Balanced performance, you will see an amazing show and a Wellness Way story in action. Be sure to congratulate Jimmy on his successful journey and balancing the burn.
Written by Dr. Jesse Anderson