5 Lifestyle Changes to Win the Battle Against AcidityLuke Coutinho
Let us address a severe but unnoticed health issue – Acidity. It has been scientifically proven to have adverse effects on the digestive system and affects millions of people in the world.
Due to several issues, predominantly linked to bad lifestyle choices, the pH regulator, which is responsible for keeping our systems alkaline, is thrown off, which then leads to reflux, bloating, burping, and flatulence.
Now, what exactly is acidity?
Acidity is the overproduction of acids in your digestive system.
Let’s find out what causes acidity, and why so many people are grappling with it.
It is simply an unhealthy lifestyle and detrimental eating habits, which can then alter the flora in your stomach – demanding an over or underproduction of acid. This overproduction can harm other organs too.
Science has made the connection between almost every disease in your body to acidity – whether it is cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney problems, liver issues, and cognitive functions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The stomach’s function is to create acids for the efficient breakdown and digestion of food. These acids not only help with digestion but also wipes out any unwanted bacteria which could have been ingested with the food.
We must understand that acid production is an integral part of our digestive system – and is essential in the breakdown of food. Acidity is common, but not normal. Most people have started to live with it, but one must realize the damage acidity causes at a cellular level.
Chronic acidity can lead to a disorder called GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, which again, affects millions of people globally. It is considered a serious illness as it is associated with decreased quality of life and significant morbidity.
Due to overproduction, acid is thrown upwards into the esophagus, causing heartburn. The esophagus consists of extremely soft tissue and primarily carries swallowed food and liquids to the stomach, for further digestion. It cannot handle the potency of the acid, which could eventually damage the esophagus’ soft tissue and the voice box.
To avoid reaching this extremely uncomfortable point in our health, we must identify the factors causing acidity.
What causes acidity in our system?
Gaps between meals
The body forms a pattern and identifies the timings of food intake. With this identification, the stomach produces acids at the same time every single day to digest food. If you miss this meal, the creation of acids in your empty stomach will cause acidity – so we advise having seeds or nuts handy so that you can feed your body until you reach your destination.
On the flip side, when you fast, you are creating a specific eating pattern for your body, putting in specific kinds of foods – your body starts to follow that rhythm and produces acids accordingly. Though fasting requires you to keep long gaps between meals, you can train your body into eating at a certain time, so that excess acid is not produced – but it is important to stick to your schedule.
The circadian rhythm of our systems identifies consistency. When you practice smart fasting scientifically, you align your system to the circadian rhythm. But when you fast irregularly – for example, if you start your fast at 10 pm every day, but sometimes randomly start your fast at midnight instead of 10 pm, it completely throws off the circadian rhythm, as your body is used to producing acid for digestion at a certain hour.
Late night binging
Our digestive system and pancreas slow down as the sun sets, which is why we need to eat lighter meals post-sunset. An unhealthy lifestyle choice and eating late at night completely overthrows your digestive system – causing acidity and indigestion. You need a gap of at least 2-3 hours before your last meal and your sleep time to avoid this from happening.
Overeating is one of the most common causes of acidity, and very simple to understand. When you eat more than your body requires, your stomach will produce more acid to break down the food than is required, resulting in acidity.
Not chewing your food enough
A hurried lifestyle has taught us to do everything in a hurry. Even something as important as mealtime is a hurried activity. When we do not chew our food enough and swallow bigger chunks of food, our stomach has to produce more acid to break them down. Remember – digestion begins in your mouth, not in your stomach. Chew your food well before you swallow it.
Too much tea and coffee
Coffee and tea consumed in moderate amounts isn’t a problem unless you are consuming these on an empty stomach. Many people feel the need to resort to tea and coffee first thing in the morning, without considering that their system has been fasting all night, and when you put something as acidic as coffee or tea directly into an empty system – it will give rise to acidity.
Smoking and alcohol
Alcohol is a strong formula, that when ingested makes direct contact with your stomach’s mucosal lining, this can give rise to acidity and diarrhea. Smoking also leads to an increase in gastric acid production, reduced gastric mucosal blood flow, and reduced duodenal bicarbonate production.
An already agitated system should not be loaded with spicy food. Once you have understood the root cause of your acidity, you can go back to your spicy food. But to heal, your system needs mild, clean, and alkaline food – do not load it with spices.
Following fad diets
Any diet which cuts out any food group is imbalanced, and imbalanced diets can cause acidity. You must consume fruits and vegetables – which are alkaline – and follow a balanced diet to maintain the acid levels of your body. Following fad diets, which demand abrupt changes in your eating habits, might lead to weight loss – but monitor thoroughly the damage it can cause to your system.
For some, stress can cause an overproduction of acid as a bodily response. The brain or body can consider stress to be a direct threat to themselves. Many scientific studies have shown that chronic stress, along with fiddling with the other parameters of the body, can also interfere with digestion, of which acidity is a component.
How do we fix acidity?
Here are five lifestyle changes to avoid acidity:
Not only do certain yoga postures help us to control the creation of acids but it also facilitates a calming and meditative state, which controls chronic stress-related acidity. Moreover, yoga decreases the stress response of the digestive tract. This can be perceived as a potential treatment for people suffering from peptic ulcer and GERD. You can try the following:
- Shitali and Shitkari Pranayama, which facilitate cooling breaths.
- Vajrasana or the Thunderbolt Pose
- Chandra Bhedi Pranayama or Left Nostril Breathing.
Light exercise is beneficial overall, but with reference to patients suffering from acidity – it improves the function of gastric emptying and can lower the risk of colon cancer in many people. It does not need to be heavy exercise, just moderate and consistent.
Every organ, cell, tissue, and element in our body resets when we sleep. Not only do we wake up with a fresh mind, but also with a fresh body. When you sleep enough, your entire digestive system is purified and relaxed. So, if you don’t sleep enough – your digestive system is not clear, and your stomach formulates more acid.
Different breathing exercises like Prayanama can address and help acidity-related issues like GERD. These exercises increase the diaphragmatic tone and reduce the reflux of acid into the esophagus.
When you drink adequate water throughout the day, you are flushing out the extra acid produced by the stomach, along with the unnecessary toxins. But, drinking water directly after meals could interfere with the digestion process, as it dilutes the acids – hence it is advised to maintain a gap of 30 minutes before and after your meals and drinking water.
Here are five food items that soothe acidity
Many people believe that we are offered saunf or fennel in a restaurant as a mouth freshener after meals – though this is true, they probably do not know that saunf’s primary function for being chewed after meals is to control acidity, and also one of the main reasons we should chew some after a heavy meal.
Basil is easily and abundantly available in markets. Chewing on these fresh leaves or boiling a few leaves in water and drinking this brew can provide relief by neutralizing the acids.
An ageless remedy, buttermilk is known for its soothing properties. Other than its many known benefits, it has been recognized by Ayurveda as an effective regulator of acidity in the system. Do this, only if dairy suits you. Make this at home with quality A2 milk.
Try a small piece of good quality jaggery after every meal, and it will help your stomach to release digestive enzymes – balancing the acid levels.
Just like coconut water, lemon water might or might not work for some people. So, this one might also be a hit or miss. Try having lemon water after your meals for a few days and notice how your body reacts to it.
Luke’s prescribed concoction just for you!
Luke’s concoction, which we can call The Wonder Drink, can be brewed in the mornings and can be sipped on throughout the day. You will soon notice an improvement in your acidity levels. To boiling water, add:
- 1 tbsp saunf/fennel
- 1 tbsp jeera/cumin
- 1 tsp of ajwain/bishop’s weed
- 1 clove
- A small piece of ginger
What exactly happens when you take antacids?
Taking an antacid in the event of severe discomfort is understandable. However, we must dive into the depths of our system to understand and solve these issues before they can become critical.
Antacids are drugs that are sold widely in the market and are usually prescribed to treat the symptoms of mild, intermittent acidity. One of the widest-sold medicines in the world, an antacid will reach your stomach and work on neutralizing the acids.
Many adults complain of heartburn every day and have resorted to antacids to treat the symptoms of the problem – but without apt identification of the cause of the acidity in your system – you might never be able to rid yourself of it – and you will continue flooding your system with antacids.
Antacids comprise magnesium and aluminum as active chemical ingredients. One of the side effects of magnesium consumption is diarrhea. So, to control the side effect of magnesium – aluminum is added to the compound, which can cause constipation.
The over usage of antacids increases your dependability on only treating the symptoms of acidity, without addressing the root cause.
The Bottom Line
Our bodies have a natural regulator, which manages the pH in our systems. This regulator needs only the right amount of nutrition to function correctly. If we nourish and care for this regulator and provide it with adequate nutrition, the acid in our system will automatically be regulated.
When our bodies are acidic, our cells are acidic, and cannot absorb the nutrition or oxygen that they should absorb. The cells then become anaerobic, and medically, all it takes is one damaged cell to cause severe health problems like cancer, diabetes, and heart problems.
Let’s turn away from the easy, but mindless solution of pumping your body with antacids by dealing with only the surface of the issue, and focus on treating the acidity issue at the grassroots level.
- Eat and drink the right things, at the right time.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Sleep well.
And together at You Care Wellness, let’s fight the acidity epidemic.
Disclaimer: Make sure to speak to your doctor before integrating any dietary changes, especially if you have a medical condition. If you are allergic to certain foods, please avoid the same.
Acidity is a gut-related issue that needs to be addressed at its root. We help you find a way. Work with our team of integrative experts to rebuild your gut.
Know more about our You Care Wellness Gut Health Program here
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