By-Meena Ganagani,Practicing Clinical Nutritionist,Mumbai.
Hyperacidity is one of the commonest disease seen in people of all ages. It affects both sexes, all classes and communities. It is a medical condition, wherein acid levels of the stomach are much more than normal. Some of the peculiar symptoms of the hyperacidity are epigastric and retrosternal burning either at full or empty stomach, nausea, vomiting and abdominal discomfort. It causes uneasiness along with other symptoms like loss of appetite, heartburn, unexpected stomach pain etc. (1)
You usually feel a burning sensation within your breastbone area (heartburn), accompanied by a bitter taste in your mouth if you are suffering from gastritis. This sensation usually worsens whenever you bend over or whenever you are lying down. Eating a lot and not chewing your food properly can also affect the way your stomach digests your food. Other common symptoms include feeling an uncomfortable fullness in the upper abdomen after eating, nausea, and vomiting. (2)
What causes hyperacidity?
- Smoking, alcohol consumption, and high levels of stress/anxiety may trigger hyperacidity.
- If you regularly drink coffee, make sure you don’t consume it on an empty stomach. Those who like to habitually combine smoking with drinking alcohol/coffee may also develop hyperacidity. (2)
- Spicy food habits like eating samosa, burger, pizza, Chinesefood. Excessive use of chilly, Cinnamon, clove, mustard, garam masala powder (spice mixture), garlic etc. in diet
- Salty and sour foods like chips.
- Eating of stale, fermented foods (dosa, uttappa,idli etc. bakery food items).
- Excessive intake of fast food.
- Excessive intake of Oily foods, pickles.
- Intake of food and beverages in its hot condition like soups.
- Excessive intake of tea/coffee.
- Lesser intake of water, dry food.
- Irregular meal times.
- Repeated food intake (before the digestion of the previously taken food)
- Incompatible food like taking non-veg., pizza followed by milk shake.
- Skipping meals
- Eating too late at night.
- Lack of rest, fast moving lifestyle.
- Insufficient sleep at night.
- Sleeping immediately after meals.
- Suppression of natural urges.
- Excessive exposure to sun and fire. (3)
- Regulate Your Time Table – Our body’s physiology has a tendency to adjust its biological clock according to our regular routine. Most of us feel hungry at regular intervals because our bodies have been accustomed to such a manner. When we do not maintain that regularity in our diet, the body’s biological clock goes haywire and starts producing acids excessively. If we do not take food while the stomach is filled with acids, then the acids have a chance to damage the mucous membrane, ultimately leading to ulcer formation.
- Take Moderately Spicy Food – Excess spices can cause irritation and aggravate the condition, but it may not be the cause.
- Avoid Lying Down Just After Heavy Meals – As the stomach takes at least 1 to 1 and half hours to empty the contents after the meal, if we lie down during this time, it causes regurgitation of the food in the food pipe and causes irritation. Instead, take a 10 minutes’ walk and then sit in an erect position. After 1 and a half or two hours of a meal, you can lie down in the right lateral position to facilitate emptying of the stomach contents into the intestines.
- Avoid Taking Medicines as Soon as You Have Heartburn – Instead of taking medicines immediately, take lots of water to dilute the stomach acids. And do the necessary changes in your routine as suggested above.
- The Psychological State of the Person – Stress, tension, anxiety, fear, sadness, and all of such negative emotions have a negative impact on our psychological and physical health. And it has been proved now. If they are a part of psychological illness, then it requires proper treatment.
- Exercise Regularly – It goes without saying that regular practice of Yogasanas, Pranayama, or exercise helps a lot in improving both physical and mental health.
- Chronic Diseases – Those patients who suffer from diseases like hypertension, diabetes, or other chronic diseases should get their routine check-ups and never underestimate the appearance of a new symptom normal or common. (4)
Foods that may help reduce your symptoms
Vegetables are naturally low in fat and sugar, and they help reduce stomach acid. Good options include green beans, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, leafy greens, potatoes, and cucumbers.
Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s a natural treatment for heartburn and other gastrointestinal problems. You can add grated or sliced ginger root to recipes or smoothies or drink ginger tea to ease symptoms.
Oatmeal is a breakfast favorite, a whole grain, and an excellent source of fiber. A diet high in fiber has been linked with a lower risk of acid reflux. Other fiber options include whole-grain breads and whole-grain rice.
- Non citrus fruits
Noncitrus fruits, including melons, bananas, apples, and pears, are less likely to trigger reflux symptoms than acidic fruits.
- Lean meats and seafood
Lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, fish, and seafood, are low-fat and reduce symptoms of acid reflux. Try them grilled, broiled, baked, or poached.
- Egg whites
Egg whites are a good option. Stay away from egg yolks, though, which are high in fat and may trigger reflux symptoms.
- Healthy fats
Sources of healthy fats include avocados, walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil. Reduce your intake of saturated fats and trans fats and replace them with these healthier unsaturated fats. (5)