Dietary management of acidity

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Acidity is the most common trouble most of us face. Especially in today’s times, the conditions are more conducive for aggravating the acidity problem.

An acidic body is not only a discomfort, but is also a magnet for many health related issues. Acidity is also known as heartburn as there is a burning sensation in the chest as well as a burning and hollow feeling in the stomach. But what exactly is acidity or acid reflux?

Acidity is a set of symptoms caused by excess production of acid by the gastric glands of
the stomach. Our stomach naturally produces hydrochloric acid (HCL) to help digest and break down food. Acidity issues arise when there is excess production of this acid due to triggers such as acidic foods, alcohol, dehydration and stress.

At the entrance to our stomach is a ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter. This ring allows the entry of the food in the stomach and then closes to keep the food in. It doesn’t allow the stomach contents to come out. When acidity occurs, the excess acid may move up from your stomach to your esophagus through the ring. The lining of our stomach with a pH of 1 to 3 is designed to withstand a high acidic environment. But our esophagus has a pH close to 7 and is not designed to withstand the high acidic environment. Hence we experience symptoms such as a burning sensation in the chest when this pH drops below 4.

There are many causes for acid reflux like:

  1. Obesity
  2. Pregnancy
  3. Certain foods and drinks
  4. Low fibre diet
  5. Spicy, oily food
  6. Lack of sleep
  7. Sedentary lifestyle
  8. Irregular meal times
  9. Smoking
  10. Alcohol
  11. Eating close to bedtime (late dinners or late night snacking)
  12. Stress

These are few reasons of acidity. Now, let us see how to manage this condition with diet.

  1. Drink lots of water. This is the most primary thing that we should do and most of us just “forget” to drink water. Please drink enough water as water is extremely crucial in many ways. But in this case, it helps to dilute the acid and flushes out excess acid.
  2. Eat smaller, frequent meals rather than 3 big meals. The bigger the meal, the longer it takes for digestion. Smaller meals are easier to digest and don’t overburden the digestive system.
  3. Don’t skip meals.
  4. Keep a gap of at least 2 to 3 hours between your dinner and bedtime. This allows adequate time for digestion.
  5. Exercise. Physical exercise improves digestion and helps relieve the symptoms of acidity.
  6. Lose weight. It definitely helps.
  7. Quit smoking as smoking is one of the causes of acidity.
  8. Reduce the consumption of tea and coffee. These beverages are acidic in nature and aggravate the acidity.
  9. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  10. Avoid all processed and packaged foods. Most of the packaged foods are high in chemicals and sodium. Hence avoid them and eat fresh food.
  11. Avoid spicy, oily food.
  12. Avoid red meat as it is difficult to digest.
  13. Avoid rich gravy preparations and eat light, fresh foods.
  14. Avoid carbonated beverages.
  15. Avoid milk. I know, the common belief about cold milk and acidity. But No. Stay away. Milk gives temporary relief but after some time it increases the secretion of acid thus aggravating acidity. If you must, then reach for a small quantity of low fat milk.
  16. Have probiotics from curd. The healthy bacteria helps in restoring the gut health.
  17. In fact fermented products are good for acidity due to the bacteria.
  18. Avoid cream, cheese and sweets.
  19. Have lemon water. What?? Yes. Drink it. Lemon is acidic, yes, but when it is metabolised in the body it has an alkaline effect. Squeeze in water and drink.
  20. Have ginger and mint water. Boil a few slices of ginger and a few mint leaves in a cup of water and drink it several times during the day. Both these herbs provide relief from acidity.
  21. Chew cumin seeds.
  22. Try to eat and sleep at same time everyday. I know we are busy, but we can try.
  23. Relax. Stress aggravates acidity.
  24. Sleep well.
  25. Be happy 🙂 yeah seriously, this is the best tip! Try it.

Hope you  get relief from acidity. Stay healthy, stay happy 🙂

 

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