Dr. Vivek Baliga B. is a consultant physician and cardiologist, and director of Baliga Diagnostics in Bangalore. He is a keen advocate of patient education and loves to blog about all things health related. Learn more about him at drvivekbaliga.com.
Is your stomach acidity becoming too much to handle? Then the tips I have for you might help you get rid of acidity problems.
Stomach acidity is a common condition. There are a number of reasons why it may occur. However, it appears that poor lifestyle and bad dietary choices are the most common causes.
In the medical world, stomach acidity is called acid-peptic disease. When the acid comes up into the food pipe from the stomach, it is called gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Common symptoms associated with acidity include burping, belching, constant nausea and a feeling of fullness in the stomach. Some may even lose their appetite. Bad breath and a bitter taste in the mouth are also associated problems.
Many people who suffer from acidity related issues try medicines time and again to see if they can relieve their symptoms. They may find short term relief at first with medicines. However, it can worsen when the medicine is stopped.
Many times, patients end up having tests such as endoscopy studies to find out how bad the acidity is. Once this is done, it is on to more number of tablets! Yes, stomach acidity can become a chronic problem. For some, it may even affect their quality of life. Some may even be unaware that suffering from GERD for many years could lead to cancer of the lower end of the food pipe.
The good news is that there are simple ways to get rid of acidity. If you want to get rid of acidity, then there are some simple changes that you will need to make.
Let’s take a look at these in a little more detail.
Change your lifestyle
There have been fair few studies published in medical literature that demonstrate the benefits that lifestyle change has on stomach acidity. In fact, many people are able to get rid of acidity related issues by just making small changes in the way they live.
Cut down your meal portion size
When you overeat, you stretch the stomach wall. This leads to excessive acid production. If you wish to get rid of stomach acidity, then it is best to cut down on how much you eat.
Instead of having 3 large meals a day, try and have smaller, more frequent meal portions. If you cannot ‑nd the time to eat frequently, then you could reduce your main meal portions sizes. Aim to be around 75-80% full after a meal. Maybe do away with that after meal dessert as well. Do not over-eat, however delicious the food might be. It could end up being disastrous!
Avoid chocolate and alcohol
Chocolate and alcohol have the property of increasing the quantity of acid being released into the stomach. Not just that, they also relax the valve that is present at the lower end of the food pipe. Normally, this valve closes shut tightly after food enters the stomach to prevent acid from shooting back into the food pipe.
So, if you are troubled by acidity all the time, it is important that you give up your alcohol and stop indulging in chocolate.
Cut down spicy foods
Spice is the essence of Indian cooking. A nice spicy curry can certainly make us feel better and quite satisfied. However, spice in foods can irritate the lining of the stomach. This can increase acid release and worsen acidity symptoms.
There is another school of thought that spice has no bearing on acidity. What I have seen in practice is that some people get relief, while some do not. Either way, cutting down spice seems to help most people, so try and reduce it as much as possible.
Smoking is a strong risk factor for many health conditions. Acidity is one of them. Smokers tend to have problems digesting their food. This is because of the excess acid that is secreted in the stomach. Interestingly, chewing tobacco also has the same kind of effects. If you are a smoker, then whatever medicines you take will be useless for acidity unless you stop smoking.
Avoid sleeping immediately after meals
If you have a meal and then retire to bed within a short time, you increase the chances of acidity causing problems. This is because the stomach gets stretched when full, and this can loosen the sphincter at the bottom of the food pipe. It is recommended that you wait at least 2.5 to 3 hours after a meal before you go to sleep. Alternatively, if you HAVE to sleep, then you could do so as described in the next paragraph.
Raise the head end of the bed
You could raise the head end of your bed in 2 ways. Either use a few pillows to keep your upper body propped up at 45 degrees, or just life the head end of the bed upwards by placing a few bricks under the legs of the cot. When you do this, you take away the effect that gravity has on acid reflux. The changes of acidity causing your trouble after a meal is greatly decreased. Now, you may find this position uncomfortable for a while, but as time passes it becomes a lot easier. Just raising it by 6 to 8 inches is sufficient.
Avoid wearing tight clothing
Tight clothing that fits around the belly can place pressure on the stomach and other organs. This can worsen acidity related symptoms. Wear clothes that are comfortable and not too tight around the abdomen. Wear loose fitting clothes at night when you sleep.
Lose weight through exercise
Excess body weight is strongly linked to acidity problems. Obesity can often lead to excessive burping and belching with indigestion issues. Starting an exercise program can help improve your digestion and at the same time can help you lose weight. Just losing 2 to 3 kilograms can make a big difference and can help you get rid of acidity.
Exercises can include brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling etc. It does not matter what you do – just make sure you combine it with a low calorie, balanced diet.
Getting rid of acidity related problems should not be hard. Just take the right steps and you could avoid antacids for years to come!
This article originally appeared in the TeacherTribe Magazine January 2021 edition.