Acidity: Symptoms, Causes and Home Remedies
Acidity is a very common ailment, with more than 20-30% of the population suffering from it. While acid reflux is quite prevalent, only a small percentage, say, less than 10% of the patients suffer from extreme health issues from it.
What is acidity?
The scientific name for acid reflux is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). In this, the stomach produces an abnormally high amount of acid, and when some of it is pushed upwards through the food pipe into the mouth, it causes a burning sensation in the chest, referred to as heartburn.
Although acidity is a common disease, it should not be taken lightly. People who suffer from it are predisposed to carcinoma of the esophagus.
What are the symptoms of acidity?
- Heartburn: A sharp pain that can originate from the stomach and move into your chest and throat.
- Burning sensation in the stomach
- Burning sensation in the throat
- Foul and sour taste in the mouth
- Tightness of chest
- Excessive burping
- Dysphagia: A sensation of food being stuck in your throat
What are the causes of acidity?
- Overeating: Large meals can cause your stomach to become upset and even stretch more than the capacity. This can make the sphincter on the upper part of the stomach stay open, which allows the acid to move upwards into the oesophagus.
- Obesity: Being overweight comes with a host of diseases, and GERD is one of them. The excess fat around the belly creates pressure on the stomach which is sufficient to create acid reflux.
- Eating before sleeping: All of the symptoms of acidity worsen if a person goes to bed after eating a meal. The body needs at least 3-4 hours to digest the food. Going to bed slows down the body’s metabolism rate, thus leading to slow digestion. Eating before going to sleep has also been linked to disruption of sleep pattern and reduced quality of sleep.
- Lying down after meals: The horizontal position of the body makes it easier for the stomach acid to travel into the oesophagus and cause acid reflux.
- Consumption of foods with high concentration of citric acid: Citrus foods and tomatoes contain high amounts of citric acid. The whole fruit as well as its juice can cause acidity by decreasing the pH level of the stomach.
- Fatty and oily food: Greasy food such as fried food can prevent the lower esophageal sphincter from closing properly. This allows the stomach contents to travel upwards into the oesophagus and the mouth, causing acidity.
- Spicy and high-processed food: Acid reflux causes the inner lining of the oesophagus to get eroded. Spicy foods further aggravate the already irritated food pipe.
- Carbonated soda: Aerated drinks such as coke contain dissolved carbon dioxide. If the equilibrium changes, this dissolved carbon dioxide can change into carbonic acid, thus increasing the acidity in the stomach. Furthermore, the CO2 can cause gastric distention, i.e., the stomach can get enlarged which would loosen the lower esophageal sphincter.
- Alcohol: Alcohol relaxes the muscle which controls the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing the stomach acid to rise up into the food pipe. It can also cause excess production of gastric acid and also cause tissue damage, making the stomach and esophagus lining more susceptible to heartburn.
- Smoking: Smoking causes tissue damage of the esophagus and also damages the mucus membrane which increases the pain of acid reflux. Along with that, it also weakens the muscles that control the lower esophageal, leading to increased heartburn pains. In a person that does not smoke, the saliva production is normal, and the saliva neutralizes the effects of the stomach acid, but in the case of a smoker, salivation is greatly reduced, thus increasing the effects of stomach acid.
Which food items can lead to increased acidity?
- Carbonated fizzy drinks
- Citrus fruits
- Fried food
- Spicy food
- Black pepper
- Raw onion
Which food items can help reduce acidity?
- Green leafy vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Chicken breast
How to reduce the occurrence of acidity?
- Start your morning by drinking 300ml of water on an empty stomach
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Chew slowly while eating
- Avoid overeating
- Avoid wearing tight clothes that constrict your body
- Avoid eating fried food
- Eat at least 3-4 hours before going to bed
- Avoid late-night snacking
- Consume less spicy foods
- Refrain from smoking and alcohol
Which home remedies can help reduce acidity?
- Although citrus fruits increase acidity, drinking lemonade has been shown to reduce acidity. The weak acid from the lemon can help counteract the strong stomach acid by diluting it and increasing the pH to reach an equilibrium.
- Drinking almond milk can help lower the effects of acid reflux. Naturally alkaline in nature, it helps balance out the pH of the stomach thus reducing acidity.
- Water has a neutral pH of 7. Drinking water throughout the day can help keep the pH of the stomach at the right spot.
- Fennel seeds are known to improve the pains of acidity. Chew a spoonful of fennel seed or brew a herbal tea by adding a spoon of fennel seeds to 200ml of water and boil it for 5-10 minutes.
- Similar to fennel, holy basil can also reduce acidity. Chewing basil leaves on an empty stomach can reduce the chance of getting acid reflux in the day.
- Eating bananas can help reduce the formation of acid in the stomach. They also help in providing fibre for the smooth passing of stool and are rich in potassium.
- Buttermilk, lassi or chaas work as antacids. Commonly consumed in Northern India, this delicious drink is cooler for the stomach and relieves the symptoms of acidity. The lactic acid in the buttermilk helps stabilise the acid of the stomach. Additionally, it also helps with digestion.
- A natural antacid, cinnamon helps in neutralising the stomach acids and also aids in nutrient absorption. Furthermore, it also helps improve digestion.
- Eating jaggery can help increase the pH of the stomach. Jaggery or Gur contains magnesium, which is alkaline in nature.
- Drinking cold milk can soothe the pain from acidity and reduce the sensation of heartburn. The calcium in the milk can help in displacing the stomach acids.
- Drinking pineapple juice after a meal has been shown to reduce the symptoms of acidity. A compound called bromelain is responsible for the soothing effects of pineapple juice. Bromelain is an enzyme that helps control the hydrochloric acid levels in the stomach.
- Amla or gooseberries have been used in Ayurveda since ancient times to tackle the symptoms of acidity. Eating a few pieces or drinking amla juice with an empty stomach can help keep acidity at bay.
- Ginger has been used in India for centuries for its host of health benefits. Along with its effects on a sore throat, it is also effective against acid reflux.
How can Bione help in alleviating the pain of people suffering from acidity?
Acidity or GERD is a lifestyle disease. The choices that you make have a huge impact on your health, from what you eat to how you plan your day. Your sleep patterns, exercise routines and clothing choices, everything affects your health. Since acid reflux is a lifestyle disease, it can be controlled by implementing the right choices.
Bione’s MyMicrobiome test is a simple, at-home test that allows you to get insights into your body. With the help of our expert nutritionists, you can have access to diet charts made exclusively for your body. Avoid acidity by removing foods that trigger it, and by adding healthy foods that keep your body young and healthy.
Bione Asia’s 1st Direct-to-consumer Genetic and Microbiome Testing Organisation is committed to offer world-class preventive healthcare services. Bione was founded by Dr Surendra K Chikara, a world-renowned genomicist & the first person to have brought genomic testing to India.