Many of us have suffered through symptoms of acidity and heartburn after a wedding celebration dinner or a late night party. We blame it on the spicy food, the fried stuff and the late night shenanigans. But we never seem to go down to the basics of understanding why till it becomes a frequently repetitive situation or gets so chronic that family members may have to rush you to the hospital suspecting a heart attack.
Acidity occurs when the basic PH balance of our stomach remains acidic over larger periods of time, upsetting the tender linings of our stomach. In certain cases a stomach abnormality called hiatal hernia can cause acid reflux. This happens when the stomach acid is thrown back into the esophagus because of the partial closing or failing of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). If one is overweight then the diaphragm which is the muscle that separates your stomach from your chest is pushed upwards causing the LES to be stressed open. As we grow older, if one leads a sedentary lifestyle it’s not just your outer muscles but even the internal organs that slowly lose their tenacity and the LES can become weak as with the other sphincters and valves throughout your body.
The stomach naturally produces HCl (Hydrochloric acid) to help with the digestion of food and has a higher acidic level than rest of the body (between to 2 to 5.5 as compared with 7.45 of rest of the body). The stomach also produces mucus at the same time which acts as a lining to protect its inner walls against the action of HCl. The HCl is required to kill bacteria that enters the body through food, and also to activate enzyme pepsin that helps in the breakdown of proteins in the stomach and the enzyme, Intrinsic factor that absorbs B12. Pepsin can only work in an acidic environment. If the food sits in the stomach for a longer period of time then the chances of increased acid levels can cause gases to be formed which in turn can result in bloating, burping, nausea, and heartburn due to acid reflux. Eating too much food can pressurize the stomach. Eating too high alkaline foods can cause more stomach acid to be produced to enable digestion, so balancing your meals are very important.
Carbohydrates move quickly through the stomach, while proteins take longer and fats can sit in your stomach for almost 6 hours. While choosing your meals we should make sure we combine our food in such a way where we can get the maximum absorption of proteins while the carbs and fiber bind them while maintaining a good insulin balance. Fats should be preferably the unsaturated ones that go smoothly through the stomach till they are emulsified with bile in the small intestine to aid in absorption of the fat soluble vitamins, A,D,E and K.
High alkaline foods are : Cabbage, broccoli, cucumber, avocado, spinach, kale, beets, celery, onion, tomato, garlic, carrot, almonds, coconut, pomegranate, olives, chickpeas, sprouted moong, soy
High acidic foods are : Meat(red meat as well as chicken, duck, turkey), eggs, Dairy(cheese, milk), oils, butter, cashews, peanuts, white rice, honey, jams, vinegar, mustard, cocoa, tea, coffee, alcohol, sweets, chocolate, fruit juices, and any food with preservatives.
The rest of the foods fall into the medium category which we can incorporate into our everyday diets, in moderation ofcourse. However, it is very essential that when we have too much of either one of the high acidic or high alkaline foods we balance it with the other.
Acidity should not be counteracted with anti acidity medicines over a prolonged time as they can inhibit your body’s absorption of essential nutrients. Make it a point therefore to eat well balanced, proportionate meals. Smaller meals that do not stay in the stomach too long, keep hydrating yourself in between the meals to make sure the stomach acids do not hurt the sensitive mucus linings of your inner walls.
Eat before you are hungry and stop before you are full.
Also Read The Times of India Article – click here