Acidity is a common problem nowadays. It is a discomforting condition that can cause heartburn, pain in the stomach, bloating, nausea, etc. The food we eat passes into the stomach through the oesophagus (food pipe). The gastric glands present in the stomach produce hydrochloric acid. The normal pH of the stomach is between 1.5 - 3.5 which is required for the digestion of food. Acidity occurs when the gastric glands start producing this acid in larger amounts than required.
Other symptoms of acidity include regurgitation, blood in stools or vomiting, burping, dysphagia (the sensation of food being stuck in the throat), hiccups, nausea, weight loss (for unknown reasons), wheezing, dry cough, hoarseness, or chronic sore throat. If your gut health is not good, there will be more acidity in the body which will cause calcium to leach out of the body. In the absence of calcium, vitamin D is not absorbed well. The deficiency of vitamin D can further lead to loss of bone density, osteoporosis, arthritis, and fat build-up in the body.
Risk factors that can lead to acidity:
Acidity is likely in people who take a lot of pills, they are advised to take an antacid along with the prescribed medication. Night shift workers, people with a sedentary lifestyle, those who indulge in late night eating/snacking, and the ones with sleep or stress issues are also vulnerable to developing acidity. It can also affect women during their PMS or menstrual cycle.
How to avoid acidity issues:
Adopting a healthy diet routine and lifestyle along with consuming certain foods can help manage acidity effectively. Avoid long gaps in between meals, form an eating schedule and adhere to it, chew the food properly, maintain the portion size at every meal. Do not over-eat, rather break your meals into small and frequent parts. Apart from these lifestyle habits, the following foods can also help soothe acidity when included in the daily diet:
1. Soak 4-5 black raisins overnight in water. Warm it up the next morning and have it along with raisins. This not only helps deal with acidity issues but also eases PMS symptoms, bloating, breast tenderness, and indigestion.
2. Mix soaked and drained poha with 3-4 tbsps of curd and a pinch of rock salt. Combine everything well and have it as a mid morning meal or tea time snack. The combination of both the foods provides benefits of prebiotics and probiotics which help promote healthy gut bacteria and avoid acidity issues.
3. Take 1/2 tsp of gulkand, add 200 ml water to it, mix well and consume. If you are suffering from acidity due to disturbed sleep then gulkand water can be consumed after dinner, or else one can have it at any time of the day. Gulkand water also helps ease PMS symptoms in women, reduces bloating, skin flare-ups during periods, acidity, constipation, and indigestion.
4. Restrict the intake of refined sugar /salt /oil /wheat flour, spicy and processed foods, alcohol, aerated drinks, and sodas as these can trigger acidity. Chronic acidity can also cause inflammation of the oesophagus.
5. Limit your caffeine intake to 1-2 cups a day as high intake of tea/coffee can make acidity issues worse. Avoiding dairy products can also help significantly. Switch to non-dairy, plant-based milk options like almond, coconut, oats, hemp, rice, peanut, or walnut milk.
6. Cut down on the pills and antibiotics wherever possible as this can lead to the flushing out of the good bacteria from the body. Excessive intake of antibiotics can also cause heaviness and acidity in the gut.
7. A person suffering from acidity can include vegetables and fruits like lettuce, celery, kale, asparagus, melon, watermelon, cantaloupe among others, as these have low acid content, are light on the stomach, and prevent acid reflux.
8. Fennel and ginger are very helpful when it comes to managing acidity as fennel has a naturally soothing effect, and ginger lowers inflammation in the body
9. Spare atleast 30 minutes daily for any form of exercise or workout. It will improve digestion and nutrient absorption, thereby avoiding acidity issues.
10. Whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, couscous, whole wheat pasta and bread, and others help control acid reflux symptoms as they are a good source of fibre, vitamins, and minerals which may help neutralise the stomach acid. Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugars as they can increase inflammation in the body.