Health Sachet No 290:
Acidity (or Heartburn), that uncomfortable burning sensation that radiates up the middle of the chest, is the most common digestive problem.
It is the result of a condition known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), often called Acid Reflux, in which stomach acid leaks upward from the stomach into the esophagus, or food pipe.
Here are some steps for managing Acidity, as suggested by Harvard Medical School:
- Eat smaller meals, but more often. A full stomach puts pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a valve-like muscle that keeps stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus.
- Of course, if you do not have acidity (and you are just trying to prevent it), do not do this: frequent meals lead to fatty liver, which should be obvious. Frequent meals give rise to frequent insulin surges, which cause insulin resistance, which in turn lead to fatty liver.
- Eat in a slow, relaxed manner. Wolfing down your food fills your stomach faster, putting more pressure on the LES.
- Remain upright after meals. Lying down increases pressure on the LES, which makes acid reflux more likely.
- Avoid late-night eating. Eating a meal or snack within three hours before lying down for sleep can worsen reflux and acidity symptoms. Fruits and simple carbohydrates clear out from stomach fast; proteins and fats linger longer. So high protein and fat meals should be eaten at least 3 hours before sleeping.
- Tilt your body with a bed wedge. Raising your torso up a bit with a wedge-shaped cushion reduces the pressure on the LES and may ease nighttime acidity. This cushion can be placed under your mattress, such that your head more elevated than your legs. Don’t prop your head and shoulders up with pillows, which can actually worsen reflux as you get a bend in the body at the stomach level.
- Stay away from aerated drinks. They cause belching, which promotes acid reflux.
- Avoid foods that trigger your symptoms. Some foods and drinks increase acid secretion, delay stomach emptying, or loosen the LES — conditions that can lead to acidity. Common offenders include fatty foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, garlic, milk, coffee, tea, cola, peppermint, and chocolate.
- Lose weight if you need to. Being overweight puts more pressure on the stomach (and the LES).
- Eat smaller meals, slowly and a few hours before bedtime.
- Avoid aereated drinks and foods than trigger the symptoms.
- Don’t lie down immediately after meals and use a bed wedge when sleeping.
- Lose weight.