Burning and discomfort in the chest and abdomen, a bitter taste in the throat, and gaseous bloating – acidity and heartburn can be awful! Acidity or an acid reflux occurs when the LES - the lower esophageal sphincter at the bottom of the esophagus fails to work optimally, thus permitting acid from the stomach to gain entry upwards in to the esophagus.
Let’s understand what triggers an episode of heartburn
Normally, when you swallow, the LES, which is a muscle at the base of the oesophagus relaxes and permits fluid and food to go into the stomach; and then the muscle constricts and becomes taut again. When the LES weakens or is impaired, stomach acid regurgitates back in to the oesophagus from the stomach setting off heartburn. Typically, heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest, and the distress tends to aggravate after you eat, when you lie down or when you bend over. You will also experience a sensation of water-brash or sour liquid being regurgitated in your throat and a horrid feeling that food is not settling in the stomach, making you feel uncomfortably full.
A sporadic episode of heartburn is exceedingly common and need not be any cause for panic. By and large, acidity and heartburn can be effectively and easily tackled with food remedies, lifestyle alterations and over-the-counter drugs. Conversely, if you have frequent bouts or the pain comes in the way of your daily routine, do not neglect; it calls for medical care.
Foods that battle acidity remarkably well
The first line of defense is prevention, so let’s explore various foods as well as guidelines that help circumvent an attack of acidity. Also, we’ve rounded up a fantastic list of natural remedies for heartburn and home remedies for acid reflux using ingredients that are sitting in your pantry!
• Banana: The banana is a tummy tamer; its high-fibre content enhances the process of digestion appreciably. Packed with potassium, the fruit increases the manufacturing and release of mucus in the stomach, thereby preventing too much acid from building up in the stomach, whilst also battling the adverse effects of excessive acid production. One of the best natural remedies for acidity, the banana is also loaded with pectin, a soluble fibre which helps soothe the entire GI tract. It efficiently deals with heartburn, regularizes bowel movement and also treats peptic ulcers. Try to incorporate the fruit into your daily diet, especially if you are prone to recurrent episodes of acidity. The super ripe fruits are best to fight acidity. Kick-start your day with a smoothie comprising of bananas, apple juice, yogurt and some ice cubes. Voila! You’re all set for a heartburn-free day!
• Yogurt: The perfect antidote to acidity! Integrating dahi in your diet ensures improved stomach and intestinal health; given that yogurt is one of the best home remedies for acidity. Dahi neutralizes the acid in the stomach; lactic acid in dahi coats the lining of the stomach and thereby protects it and reduces inflammation. What’s more, yogurt is chockfull of pro-biotics which are critical for good digestion and good gut health. It contains live active cultures which help maintain normal intestinal balance. The beneficial bacteria in curd prevent an accumulation of gas which often causes acid reflux. It also perks up digestion and assimilation of food and significantly decreases your vulnerability to acid reflux by keeping your gastrointestinal tract in top-notch condition. The helpful bacteria in dahi have shown to shield the stomach from ulcers by squashing the growth and multiplication of H. pylori, which is an ulcer-causing bacterium. Jump-start your day with a bowl of granola topped with generous dollops of yogurt or knock down a glass of chilled yogurt smoothie or have a bowl with lunch; you can’t go wrong with a raita!
• Watermelon: The watermelon has an alkalizing effect on the body. It decreases the acidity in your system and is also incredibly anti-inflammatory. Because of its high water content, it delivers large amounts of nutrients per calorie, which is a remarkable health benefit. One of the lesser known and used home remedies for heartburn relief, the watermelon is brimming over with a red carotenoid pigment which is a potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that reduces irritation, burning and inflammation in the GI tract. Try to have at least one serving of the fruit per week.
• Ginger: Gingerols in ginger have the potent ability to ease gastrointestinal anguish. In fact, the ginger root is a key home remedy for hyperacidity, providing instant heartburn relief! The gingerols are powerful anti-inflammatory agents which alleviate irritation and inflammation in the GI tract and perk up its functioning. It is a robust carminative and eliminates intestinal wind almost instantaneously. It relieves spasms and burning in the GI tract and copes very well with heartburn. Include a cup of ginger tea in your daily morning routine.
• Turmeric: Curcumin in turmeric stimulates digestion and prevents an acid build-up. Fortunately, Indian cuisine includes plenty of the spice and is a rather liberal component in our diet. Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent which reduces inflammation and irritation in the GI tract. It greatly soothes the stomach lining. Make a concoction of haldi powder and soonth (ginger powder) and have a little bit, every couple of hours. Turmeric poultices can also be applied to the belly to allay pain and inflammation. Tata Sampann Haldi Powder is scientifically processed and hygienically packaged to preserve its natural goodness. What’s more, each packet of turmeric offers at least 3 % of curcumin.
• Potato: Potato juice neutralizes surplus stomach acid and also helps heal the lining of the esophagus and stomach. Studies have also demonstrated that potato affords pain relief, wards off bacterial contamination and also accelerates healing. Drink half a glass of potato juice and the results are startlingly instantaneous!
• Almonds: Almonds leave an alkaline ash in your body. They are particularly good for digestion since their fat content helps counterbalance the stomach acid. Eat a fistful of almonds at midday; it’ll stave off acidity attacks successfully. In case, your suffering from burning in the chest and stomach, eat 5 to 7 almonds and wait for about half an hour; symptoms of heartburn abate rapidly. Add roasted almonds to your morning bowl of oatmeal, or add the nuts to your stir-fry or have a handful as a power-snack!
Certain foods and drinks as well as certain specific conditions make you more vulnerable to an attack of hyperacidity. It is crucial to identify your specific trigger and steadily avoid it. Here’s a list of the likely triggers –
- Spicy foods
- Greasy, fried foods
- Citrus fruits
- Tomato-based products, such as ketchup, ready-made bottled sauces, marinara sauce, etc.
- Aerated beverages
- Caffeinated drinks
- Consuming large meals
- Lying down after a meal
- Exercising after a meal
3 Foods that you need to steer clear of!
The following three foods set off and / or aggravate heartburn; it’s best to avoid them in case you are vulnerable.
• Coffee: Coffee is naturally acidic. It contains an organic acid which lends the brew that sharp, zesty jolt that you love! Coffee is a big cause as well as an aggravating factor for acid reflux, and you are left to suffer burning in the belly, burping and disagreeable acidic liquid creeping in to the esophagus from the stomach.
• Aerated drinks: Carbonated, aerated drinks need to be skimped on completely. They cause acid regurgitation by making the lower esophageal sphincter relax. What’s more, the bubbles have a tendency to expand in the stomach, generating lots of pressure and pain and further worsening the situation.
• Fried foods: Fatty, greasy, fried foods require a lot more acid to break them down compared to other foods. Indeed, fried foods are some of the worst foods that cause a reflux. Pass over the French fries, fritters, crisps, wafers, onion and bell pepper rings and fried chicken.
Get instant relief from acidity and heartburn with these lifestyle changes
Lifestyle modifications have a big role to play in the successful management of heartburn and acidity. Here’s a directory of do’s and don’ts which will provide immense assistance.
- Maintain a healthy body weight and shed all those unwanted pounds. Being over-weight puts a lot of pressure on the abdomen, pushing the stomach and intestines and causing acid to reflux into the esophagus. Follow a strict diet and exercise regimen to shed the extra pounds.
- Avoid tight-fitting clothes; they too put undue pressure on the belly and the lower esophageal sphincter of the esophagus, affecting normal functioning.
- Know your heartburn triggers and stay away from them. Learning to recognize your triggers will help lessen acid reflux. Experts advocate that you should test one possible trigger at a time. So, if you suppose that coffee is your trigger, take a break from coffee, and see how your belly responds; likewise test out all other likely triggers.
- Stay away from late meals. Stop eating 2 hours before bedtime; give your stomach time to empty completely before you lie down to sleep.
- Steer clear of large meals; instead have small and frequent meals through the day. Also, eat slowly and take small bites. Chew your food well. Bolting your food does not allow the lower esophageal sphincter to open and close at a healthy pace.
- Make sure you have loads of fibre in your diet. A high fibre diet is linked to lower incidence of acidity and dyspepsia by decreasing stomach acidity. Lentils are your best friends! They are jam-packed with fibre and promise you excellent gut health. Ensure that you consume at least one bowl of lentils per day.
- After a meal, never lie down –this is a chief cause for regurgitation, causing the stomach acid to leak back up into the esophagus.
- In case you habitually experience heartburn at night or when lying down, elevate your head by propping yourself with pillows. Or you could insert a wedge between the bed and the mattress to raise your body from the waist up.
- Exercising soon after a meal can set off heartburn too; avoid it.
- Quit smoking and keep away from alcohol.
When to confer with a doctor?
Heartburn that occurs frequently and interferes with your routine is considered gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and can seriously impair your esophagus. It can also cause Barrett’s esophagus which is a precancerous condition. You need to discuss with your health care provider if the home remedies fail to offer any relief from the acid reflux and you continue to have recurrent and frequent episodes of heartburn.
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