Acidity is a burning sensation caused when the gastric glands in our stomach produce excess acid than required to metabolise food. Acidity can be caused by several factors, such as over-production of acid in the stomach, eating excess junk, processed, preserved, and packaged foods, irregular eating pattern or eating just before bedtime, consuming spicy and artificially-flavoured foods, having a low-fibre and high-salt diet, improper sleep, having too much tea/ coffee/aerated beverages, leading a sedentary lifestyle, certain medications, frequent smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and gastrointestinal problems. It can inflict overweight/obese people and pregnant or menopausal women. Check with Binu
Common symptoms of acidity are chest pain, heartburn, pain in the upper abdomen or chest, frequent episodes of burping or hiccups, nausea, indigestion, foul breath, constipation, heaviness after eating, regurgitation, restlessness, and trouble swallowing foods due to a constant feeling of food stuck in the throat.
Here are some acid reflux remedies that are easy to follow and may prevent the need for medication. Soaked black raisins can help improve digestion, bloating, and ease pre-menstrual-syndrome (PMS) symptoms in women- have 4-5 black raisins soaked overnight in water. A combination of curd and poha can also help soothe acidity. Mix the soaked and drained poha with about 3-4 tablespoons of curd and a pinch of rock salt- take as a mid morning or an evening snack. Curd is rich in probiotics; rice flakes/poha has prebiotic properties- the combination supports healthy gut bacteria, which can help avoid acidity. Gulkand water is another home remedy that can help fix acid reflux and reduce heartburn symptoms- mix 1/2 tsp of home made gulkand with 200 ml water. Stir well and consume at any time of the day. Include vegetables such as lettuce, kale, cucumber, celery, bottle guard and fruits such as watermelon, cantaloupe, banana, apple, and pears since they are light on the stomach and can help prevent the risk of acidity. Whole grains are rich in fibre, good carbohydrates, and essential micronutrients, which help maintain gut health. Choose whole wheat breads/chapati/pasta, brown rice, quinoa, oats, and millets over refined flour and sugar which can increase inflammation.
Consume less refined sugar /salt /oil /flour, junk/ processed/preserved/packaged/spicy foods, bakery and confectionery items, soda/aerated beverages, excessive tea/coffee, and alcohol since these can flare up acidity. A person with a history of chronic acidity can also suffer from esophageal inflammation. Restrict the consumption of caffeine to 1-2 cups a day. In some cases, switching to non-dairy options such as almond/walnut/rice/coconut/hemp/oats milk can also help improve acidity. Over-dependency on pills and antibiotics leads to heaviness and acidity and can flush out the good gut bacteria. Therefore, avoid taking too many antibiotics.
Certain herbs and spices can also help neutralise stomach acid. Chewing fennel seeds or saunf after meals can help prevent acidity and aid digestion. Ginger naturally soothes the gut, lowers inflammation, and helps neutralise the stomach acids. Indian gooseberry (amla) is rich in antioxidants and helps relieve acidity issues. Basil leaves have carminative properties and are considered one of the best home remedies for acid reflux. Immediately after experiencing first few signs of gas/acidity, eat a few basil leaves or boil them in 2 cups of water. Reduce to half and sip. Cinnamon is an alkaline spice that works as a natural antacid for treating excessive acid produced by the stomach. One can have cinnamon tea or cinnamon-infused water to reap its benefits.
Apart from fixing the eating pattern, a healthy lifestyle helps relieve acid reflux- develop an eating schedule and stick to it, avoid long gaps between meals, chew every bite of the food properly, mindfully watch the portion size of the food, avoid eating anything 2-3 hours before bedtime, and have a proper sleep routine to manage acidity issues. Perennially sleeping less or frequent episodes of insomnia can trigger the stomach to produce more acid than usual, which can irritate and hamper sphincter muscle function, leading to acidity. Hence, sleep for 7-8 hours of sound sleep everyday. A sedentary lifestyle can also lead to poor gut health. Spare 30 minutes every day for any form of physical activity or workout to improve digestion and increase nutrient absorption.