We have all complained of heartburn or acidity at one time or another. In some cases, it is just a mild reaction of the body but in others, it may be quite severe and may lead to severe headaches or migraines, sometimes even vomiting.
Having acidity for a long sustained period of time can impair your digestive system considerably and even lead to ulcers or damage the stomach lining.
Your lifestyle and eating habits have a lot to do with how frequently you suffer from heartburn and a few changes may help you to reduce the frequency of its occurrence and eventually help you get rid of it permanently.
Do you have heartburn?
It's important to correctly identify heartburn, so you can recognise the symptoms and treat/prevent it. Heartburn is a burning or painful sensation in the oesophagus [food pipe], just below the breastbone caused by regurgitation [backflow] of gastric acid. In severe cases, the pain rises in the chest and may spread to the neck, throat, or angle of the jaw.
Now that you know what heartburn is, understand factors that cause it and follow the measures to find relief and prevent further incidents.
What you eat and drink throughout the day can be a major cause of heartburn. Chocolates, carbonated beverages and ice cream: Any full-fat milk products or chocolates or even colas can trigger heartburn. Stick to water as a drink option, in fact, if you drink enough water throughout the day, it will help dilute the acids produced. If you have a sweet tooth or you must order dessert, stick to flavoured or frozen non-fat yogurt; it will aid digestion and prevent another acid attack.
Tea and coffee: Drinking too many cups of tea or coffee throughout the day is one of the major causes of heartburn in office goers. A smart way to reduce your intake is to choose a smaller cup every time you drink tea or coffee; it will reduce your intake by half without you realising.Alcohol and dry fruits: Due to their high fat content, dry fruits [peanuts in particular] are not a good choice to munch on while you are having acidity. Peanuts are usually served with alcohol and a combination of these is usually a sure-shot way of triggering acidity.
Citrus fruits, tomatoes and citrus juices: These foods are already acidic in nature; so if you have acidity, consuming these can further aggravate it. Instead, opt for starchy and neutral fruits like bananas, custard apple and chikoo as the starch in them helps neutralise acid levels.Salads: Eating raw food while your digestive system is impaired can be another cause of acidity, as the fibre may aggravate the acid reflux; steam your salad vegetables before having them. Avoid having heavy cream-based dressings like thousand island or mayonnaise and choose fresh yogurt dressing instead.
Oily and spicy food: If just eating raw food triggers an acid attack, imagine what fried and spicy food does to your system, especially since it is so much harder to digest even otherwise. Avoid having pickles and chutneys with your meals. If you are eating out, choose to eat grilled and baked options over fried.
Lack of enough sleep due to too many late nights or irregular sleeping habits causes the system to produce more acids. And people who follow erratic schedules often end up eating and drinking the wrong kind of foods or eating their last meal really late at night, adding to this problem.
Try and regularise your sleeping pattern by sleeping and waking at almost the same time each day so that your body can have some sort of a routine.
Regular walking improves the digestive system. Going for a slow post-dinner stroll can actually help the digestive system to function better. People who experience acidity as a result of a stressful lifestyle will find that taking a brisk walk regularly helps reduce their stress levels as well as acidity.
Even if you are doing everything else right, stress can be a major cause of heartburn. The most important thing is to identify the problem and accept the fact that you are stressed. Don't dismiss it thinking, "I cannot help being stressed". Try to come up with a better response to stressful situations. Put some time aside for yourself each day, maybe in the form of a short nap in the afternoon or a stroll all by yourself in the evening. Meditation can help you clear your mind and relax you considerably.
Embracing a healthy lifestyle is a permanent solution to acidity. Once you are rid of the problem going back to your earlier ways can obviously trigger the attack again. So say goodbye to heartburn and welcome to wellbeing permanently!
Bursting the bubble
Most people believe that drinking a glass of plain cold milk or eating ice-cream can reduce acidity. Factually, it's quite the opposite. The calcium in milk can actually cause the acidity to worsen and the high fat content in ice cream can also end up aggravating heartburn. A better idea is to take an antacid prescribed by your doctor.
Spot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!