In this hectic world of sedentary lifestyle and outside eating, the acidity and heartburn are becoming a major problem. according to Healthline, almost 60% of adults experience heartburn at least once a year, and almost 30% suffer from it on weekly basis!
Acidity also clinically known as GERD- Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, is a chronic digestive disorder that occurs, when the stomach acid or occasionally bile flows back (refluxes) into the esophagus( food pipe ). This back flow causes irritation leading to symptoms like heartburn, chest pain, burning sensation, regurgitation of acid in the mouth, and Nausea.
Factors that contribute to GERD
1. Consumption of alcohol. ( excessive use of alcohol can irritate the lining of stomach )
3. Smoking. One mechanism is, smoking relaxes the tight muscle lining at the junction of food pipe and stomach that prevents back flow of food. The bundle of muscle is called Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). And by relaxing the LES, smoking causes back flow of digestive juices and food and causes the heart burn. Another mechanism is, smoking inhibits pancreatic bicarbonate secretion, due to which duodenal pH is reduced and causes acidity.
4. Highly spicy food.
5. Oily /fried food.
6. Medications that delays emptying of stomach ( certain antibiotics, antidepressants, calcium supplements)
7. Prolong duration of fasting.
9. Prolong use tobacco.
Now that were factors that cause acidity, and now-
Tips to reduce the acidity
1) Eat small frequent meals: Does not mean you need to eat every other hour, NO! Just Don’t skip major meals like Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner; and have snacks in between if necessary. As simple as that 🙂
2) Many people believe that one needs to exercise on an empty stomach. But that is actually a very wrong practice. Have a light pre workout meal before heading out to the gym. Always! Banana slices and Peanut Butter, a banana with some almonds and walnut, a fruit smoothie, these all make great pre workout snack.)
3) Do not skip any meals, especially breakfast- because the entire night your body was in the fasting state and therefore a healthy breakfast is required.
4) Chew the food well and eat slowly.
5) Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Do not drink too many fluids with meals though. How much water to drink? Read,
Don’t like taste of plain water? Check out delicious recipes for infused water here,
6) Manage Stress. Read more,
7) Have set Sleep time. Try to log in at least 7 hours of sleep each day.
8) Avoid tight fitting cloths: cloths that fit tightly around the waist put pressure on the abdomen.
9) Don’t lie down right after a meal: Wait at least three hours after eating before lying down or going to bed. And if possible, go for a light walk. See our grandparents were right to go for a “Shatpawali” after meals 🙂
10) Elevate head of the bed. If heartburn is experienced regularly at night or while trying to sleep, raise the head of bed by six to nine inches. At home you can do this by using pillows.
11) Maintain a healthy weight: excess weight puts pressure on the abdomen, pushing up the stomach causes acid to reflux.
12) Don’t smoke.
13) Exercise: 30 minutes daily for 5 days a week is all you need!
Treating acidity with foods
1. Avoid eating spicy food like red chillies and black peppers. Now this has to be personalized. For some people, they can tolerate spicy stuff just fine, and others not so much. So pay close attention to what your body accepts and what it doesn’t! That brings us to our second point, Keeping a food diary.
2. Keep a food diary, this will help one understand which food trigger a heartburn episode and helps us avoid just those specific foods.
3. Restrict consumption of Refined and Processed Products – Maida based breads, cakes, pastries, khari, toast, Tandoori rotis.
4. Some foods that have an association with Reflux events are: citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, tomato based foods/sauces/ketchups. Avoid these.
5. Avoid Foods high in caffeine – coffee, tea, carbonated beverages-cold drinks, black drinks, colas, chocolates.
Having an episode of heartburn, but still need to eat food? Here I have an easy breezy and delicious recipe for you-
Fermented curd rice/ curd pudding.
1) 2 teaspoon of cooked rice
2) 100 ml milk.
3) 2 teaspoon curd(overnight left curd/ homemade curd.)
Method: Mix everything in a bowl.
Best time to have : when consumed first thing in morning, restores the gut flora ( healthy intestine), relieves from stomach ulcers, reduces acidity and clears your skin.
Mubashira is a Certified Diabetes Educator and a Dietitian with specialization in Clinical and more specifically Renal Nutrition. She also has a certification in nutrition and exercise for fitness. Having addressed issues like weight management, diabetes management, and lifestyle disorders, her health mantra is “encourage healthy eating and conscious well being for better living!”