Lifestyle changes for Lasting Relief

Modify Your Habits To Fight Acidity

Our stomach produces acid to digest the food that we eat. However, when there is excessive production of acids by the stomach glands, it results in acidity. There may be a backflow of this acid from the stomach to the food pipe, which is also known as acid reflux. This results in symptoms like cough and heartburn. This acid may also erode the walls of the stomach resulting in gastric ulcers. These conditions if not addressed at the right time, may result in complications such as chronic gastro-esophageal reflux disease, esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus) or bleeding ulcers. Research has also proven that acidity predisposes stomach cancer.

A comfortable life without having acidity only requires you to pay a little attention towards your food and lifestyle habits. So let us check them out one by one:

  1. Avoid foods that may increase acid secretion: There is a long list of foods that may trigger secretion of stomach acids. Some common foods that we tend to consume a lot are –
    • Fried, fatty and spicy food
    • Meat such as chicken nuggets and ground beef
    • Full cream milk and other dairy products like cottage cheese
    • Foods that contain caffeine like coffee, tea and chocolates
    • Tangy foods like citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, sauces, and tamarind
    • Therefore, it is best to limit the consumption of such foods.
  2. Drink lots of water: We are so busy nowadays that we forget to drink water. Water neutralizes the stomach pH and thus reduces acidity. Ideally, you should be drinking at least 5 liters of water a day.
  3. Stop popping in painkillers every time you have a small ache: Yes, we do have a busy schedule and do not want any sort of pain to bother us. However, over the counter pain medications like aspirin and ibuprofen inhibit the activity of the enzymes that protect the stomach lining from the stomach acids. Therefore, instead of popping in those magic pain pills, you should give some more time and look out for other alternative methods of pain relief.
  4. Change your eating habits:
    • Eat small sized frequent foods: Yeah right!! Who has the time to get up frequently from our seats to have small meals? This is a common ideology of today’s generation. We tend to fill up our stomach fully every time we sit for a meal. We need to know that excess amount of food at a time weakens the sphincter of the stomach and causes reflux of the food. This would again cause heartburn.
    • Eat meals slowly: We usually tend to eat in a hurry. In this process, we also tend to ingest a lot of air. This results in gas and belching. When we belch, we again push the stomach acids up the esophageal sphincter, which results in heartburn.
  5. Avoid smoking and alcohol:
    • Research has proven that smoking increases the production of stomach acids. Moreover, it also weakens the esophageal sphincter, which may aggravate heartburn in patients who already have acidity.
    • Drinking small quantity of alcohol is good for the heart they say. However, even a small quantity of alcohol may trigger the production of stomach acids.
  6. Take measures to relieve stress: Stress is the mother of most health issues- be it mental or physical. Similarly, stress is also linked with acidity and aggravation of acidic symptoms. Stress may cause changes in your eating habits. When you are stressed, you tend to either eat in excess or eat too less- both may result in acidity. Stress diverts the blood flow from the gastrointestinal system to the brain and the muscles. This slows the digestion process and may aggravate symptoms of acidity such as heartburn. So, check out a few tips to reduce stress-
    • Meditate: It definitely relieves the buildup of negative energy in your minds
    • Laugh a lot: Laughter is the best medicine. It adds up to a sense of well being.
    • Take adequate rest: Prioritize your work and most importantly give time to yourself.
    • Engage yourself in some hobby: Give some time everyday to do something that you love to do.
    • Take a relaxing massage: It works wonders for relieving stress. It rejuvenates and makes you active.
  7. Some points to ponder while doing exercises: Exercises are a great remedy for improvement and maintenance of overall health. However, it is known to aggravate the symptoms associated with acidity. This does not mean that you have a reason for not doing exercises. Just follow these few tips while doing exercise:
    • Drink adequate water during exercise- This is very important as exercises causes sweating which dehydrates you faster.
    • Exercise at least an hour after your meals- Immediately exercising after meals may cause reflux of food and cause heartburn. Therefore, wait for at least an hour after eating your food and then exercise.
    • Prefer doing mild to moderate intensity exercises- If you already have acidity, vigorous exercise may aggravate acid reflux and cause heartburn.
    • Go to a doctor when you have a chest pain- Apparently it is not very easy to distinguish between the chest pain caused by heartburn and the one caused by a heart problem. So, while working out, if you have chest pain, stop immediately and rush to a hospital.
  8. Avoid wearing tight clothing especially around your waist: If you already have acid reflux, wearing tight clothing around your waist (such as tight belts) would again aggravate acid reflux.
  9. Change your sleeping habits- Very important especially if you already have acidity and acid reflux:
    • While lying down, raise the head end of the bed or keep a few pillows under your upper back- this would help to prevent the food from getting refluxed into the food pipe and thus, would prevent heartburn.
    • Avoid lying down immediately after having food: Eat and sleep- is a mantra for a good holiday. You should know that lying down displaces the stomach contents upwards and this may weaken the esophageal sphincter leading to heartburn. Acidity and its symptoms cause major psychological distress. Moreover, now we know that simple lifestyle modifications can be so beneficial in curbing this problem. So, instead of being worried and stressed out because of acidity, just follow these tips and live a stress free life.

Common Remedies For Acidity

We all have experienced acidity at some or the other point in life. The first thing we do is try household remedies. Every person has a different household remedy for acidity. Some common ones include:

  • Mix half spoon of baking soda in water and drink it.
    Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is basic in nature, which neutralizes the acidity and helps to reduce heartburn.
  • Drink a glass of cold milk without any sugar.
    Milk contains calcium, which absorbs excess acid and reduces the heartburn.
  • Eat overly ripe bananas.
    Banana contains high concentration of potassium and fiber content, which is basic and improves digestion thereby helping to reduce acidity.
  • Boil cumin in water and take it after it cools.
    Cumin or jeera improves digestion and reduces the irritated nerves.
  • Boil mint leaves in water and take it after it cools.
    Mint helps to reduce the acid secretion and improves digestion.
  • Drink ginger tea about half an hour before meals or chew a piece of ginger.
    Ginger improves digestion, absorption and acts as a buffer to neutralize acidity.
  • Drink buttermilk with a little pepper or coriander.
    Buttermilk contains lactic acid, which helps to neutralize acidity.
  • Bite a clove and keep it in mouth.
    Cloves have carmitive effect which helps to reduce acidity.
  • Take a spoonful of gooseberry or amla powder.
    Gooseberry or amla contains vitamin C, which heals the stomach lining and helps to reduce acidity.
  • Eat jiggery after every meal.
    Jaggery contains potassium, which acts as a buffer to neutralize acidity. If you are diabetic then avoid taking jiggery because it contains sugar.

Pharmacological remedies:

Acidity can be treated by over-the-counter medications also.

Many over the counter medications are available that will help to treat acidity effectively.

Antacids medications available over the counter help to reduce the acid levels in the stomach and effectively treat heartburn, upset stomach.

  • You should take these medications after the meals or at bedtime for effective treatment. These antacids are available in the form of chewable tablets and liquid suspension.
  • If you are taking liquid suspension, do not take any other liquid with it and store the medication in refrigerator.
  • If you are taking the chewable tablets then you should chew thoroughly and then drink a glass full of water after swallowing.

Anti-gas or anti-flatulence medications are also helpful as heartburn results in bloating. Anti-gas medications break the gas bubbles and treat the bloating effectively.

  • You should take these medications after meals to reduce bloating.

Anti-ulcer medications supress the production of acid and treat heartburn effectively. Fruit salts contain citric acid and sodium bicarbonate, which form effervescent, and acts as antacid and treats acidity.

  • You should mix the fruit salt in water and drink immediately.

Acidity or heartburn can have effective treatment through these medications or home remedies. However, it is better to avoid alcohol and smoking as it irritates the stomach and increases acidity. You should also avoid wearing tight clothes as it increases pressure on the stomach and causes acidic reflux.

Next time when you have these symptoms, you can follow these home remedies and treatment options for relief from acidity.