What is acidity and its natural remedies?
Dr. Sneha Ganatra
December 14, 2020
Acidity which is also called as acid reflux is a condition which is characterized by burning sensation in the lower part of the chest area and can be accompanied with pain. Many of us suffer from this condition time and again, but do we actually know how and why is it caused?
How does acidity occur?
To digest the food, our stomach normally produces acid; hydrochloric acid. A ring of muscle is present at the entrance of the stomach which is known as lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When the food enters the stomach through the food pipe or the esophagus, this valve LES closes to prevent the acid or the stomach contents to move up into the esophagus. When this valve doesn’t close properly or opens often, it can lead to acid reflux causing symptoms like chest discomfort or heartburn. Along with heartburn, one can also experience some regurgitation which causes sour or bitter tasting acid in your mouth or throat. Other symptoms can include frequent burping, nausea, difficulty in swallowing, restlessness, indigestion, dry cough etc.
What is GERD?
When the acid reflux is occurring more than twice a week, it is diagnosed as GERD; Gastroesophageal reflux disease. Chronic or long-term GERD can lead to some serious complications like:
Damage to the esophagus: Conditions like esophagitis (inflammation of esophagus), esophageal stricture (narrowing of esophagus), Barrett’s esophagus (permanent damage to the lining of esophagus).
Tooth enamel erosion leading to cavities.
What causes acidity?
Bad food and lifestyle habits are the major culprits for acidity, but not many realize that. Hereditary can also be one of the factors. Let’s check out the reasons for acidity in depth:
- Poor eating habits such as overeating, eating right before going to sleep, irregular timings of eating, skipping meals and eating excessive spicy or salty foods.
- Consuming certain foods in excess which are highly acidic or can irritate the digestive tract such as citrus fruits, processed foods, fried foods, coffee, alcohol, sodas and other carbonated drinks.
- Frequent smoking
- Lack of sleep and excessive mental stress.
- Associated symptom of existing medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma etc.
- Side-effects of certain medications such as anti-depressants, anti-hypertensives, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), antibiotics etc.
- Lack of physical exercise
Pregnancy can also cause acidity due to the pressure on the intestinal organs. Similarly, obesity is also a risk factor associated with acidity.
How to prevent Acidity?
While certain times it is unavoidable, but there are surely certain steps one can take to either prevent it or lessen the severity of the acidity. It demands certain lifestyle modifications and changes in habits, but the results can improve your health and avoid unwanted complications.
- Quit smoking
- Set a routine for meal timings and avoid eating minimum 2 hours before sleeping.
- Eat smaller meals and chew your food properly
- Take a 10-15 minutes walk post meals
- Avoid tight fitting clothes that can put pressure on the abdomen
- Eat healthy and avoid foods that can trigger acidity
- Try elevating your head while sleeping by keeping an extra pillow
- Drink enough water throughout the day and stay hydrated
- Avoid alcohol
- Lose your excess weight and stay active
- Talk to your doctor if your current medication is leading to acidity
- Avoid stress and practice relaxation techniques
What natural remedies can cure acidity?
Many people prefer home remedies over medications to cure acidity. Here are some natural remedies which are been used since years as a cure of acidity:
- Chew a few basil leaves or boil them with water and have it frequently throughout the day.
- Black raisins not just adds good nutritional value to your diet but also help absorb troublesome stomach acids.
- Buttermilk along or after meals neutralizes the acidity in the stomach.
- Jaggery or gur helps in digestion and reduces acidity when taken post meals. A small piece will do wonders!
- Fennels either chewed after each meal or its juice can help reducing the acidity. Extract the juice by soaking fennel seeds overnight and grinding them with water. Strain the juice and add cumin powder for good results.
- Coconut water can help soothe your digestive tract.
- Bananas has been considered the best remedy for acidity over the years. Eat a banana every day.
- Chew a gum to help saliva produced reduce the acid in the esophagus.
- Ginger tea or sucking a ginger candy can help reduce the heartburn.
- Muskmelon being alkaline in nature helps reduce acidity. You can also try muskmelon juice, it provides instant relief.
When to see a doctor?
Although home remedies work well with most of the mild cases, but one should see a doctor if the problem persists or is repetitive. Chronic acidity can cause esophageal damage and other complications. Try to make good choices with foods, avoid bad food and lifestyle habits and you can win this battle against acidity! It is always better to prevent than cure.