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Diet and Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Acidity/Heartburn
Diet and Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Acidity/Heartburn

Diet and Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Acidity/Heartburn

Acid reflux disease or acidity is also known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease which is one of the most common lifestyle diseases around the world and is known to significantly impair your lifestyle and lead to serious complications in long term if not managed properly.

To give you an idea of how wide spread this problem has become, according to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), there were about ‘3.14 million’ hospitalizations for ARD in 2005, and in 2010 this number increased to 4.7 million hospitalizations and 1,653 deaths.

Acidity occurs when there is excess secretion of acids in the gastric glands of the stomach. When the secretion is more than usual, we feel, what is commonly known as heartburn, which is normally triggered off by consumption of certain foods etc. If you want to know more about acid reflux disease Acidity/Acid reflux – Symptoms, Causes, Mechanism

The first thing you should try before medical treatment is Dietary and Lifestyle modifications. While diet does not cause acidity or heartburn, but it can aggravate or increase the reflux of acid into your esophagus causing heartburn. While there are many treatments for heartburn, the best way to reduce symptoms and keep the condition under control is by avoiding foods that cause it.

DIETARY MODIFICATIONS

AVOID

Certain foods compromise the LES’s ability to prevent reflux and are best avoided. This may differ person to person but it is usually noted that foods like

1. SPICY FOODS

Many spicy foods contain capsaicin, which slows down digestion and causes food to sit in the stomach longer. The longer food is in the stomach, the more risk of you having heartburn.

Spicy food can irritate the esophagus, which can worsen heartburn symptoms.

2. HIGH-FAT FOODS

Fast food like –

  • French fries, Burgers, onion rings.
  • Full-fat dairy products, such as whole milk, butter and cheese.
  • Fatty or fried beef, pork or lamb.
  • Desserts or snacks, such as ice cream and potato chips.
  • Cream sauces and gravies.
  • Oily and greasy foods.

These foods are more difficult to digest so they are left in the stomach longer than other types of foods so because of that delay gastric emptying they sit in the stomach and they increase the likelihood of those gastric contents entering into the esophagus causing acid reflux.

Fried and fatty foods can cause the LES to relax when it shouldn’t be. If you don’t know what is LES then refer to this link. Acidity/Acid reflux – Symptoms, Causes, Mechanism

Eating high-fat foods puts you at greater risk for reflux symptoms, so reducing your total daily fat intake can help.

3. CAFFEINE

Limit coffee and tea drink no more than two cups coffee or tea per day. Most coffees are acidic which can increase acidity in your stomach. Try dark roast coffee because darker the roast lower the acid. If you are constantly suffering from acid reflux symptoms it’s best to avoid your morning cup of coffee and find other alternatives.

4. CHOCOLATES

Both milk and dark chocolates contain methylxanthines, caffeine and theobromine which relax your smooth muscles including the one present in your LES. This causes the acid in your stomach to move up in your oesophagus more easily and leads to symptoms of acid reflux.

5. ALCOHOL

Alcohol is a known stimulant for production of acid in your stomach

  • It increases the quantity of acid produced by your stomach
  • Relaxes the LES leading to more reflux.

So avoid alcohol at all costs as it is one of the worst food for people with acid reflux.

6. ONIONS

Raw onions cause acid reflux heartburn burping and gas. This could be due to onion’s high fermentable fibre content raw onions are also harder to digest and may irritate the oesophageal lining producing heartburn.

If you can’t avoid raw onions then prefer cooked onions.

7. TOMATOES

Tomatoes are very acidic they contain both citric acid and malic acid and because of this it worsens acid reflux so consuming tomatoes themselves but it’s also important to think about other things as well like.

8. CITRUS FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Pineapple
  • Tomatoes and tomato sauce
9. PEPPERMINT

Peppermint, spearmint, peppermint tea and even toothpastes that contain mint as well.

ADDITION

Certain types of food are very helpful to reduce the symptoms of acid reflux disease. These foods contain –

1. GINGER

Ginger is one of the best digestive aids because of its medicinal properties. It’s alkaline in nature and anti-inflammatory, which eases irritation in the digestive tract. The best way to consume ginger for people with acid reflux is to make ginger tea or you can also chew on some dried ginger that will also help to relieve the symptoms of acid reflux.

2. OATMEAL

Many people with acid reflux disease note that their symptoms of acidity begin soon after breakfast. This is usually because we take the wrong type of foods in our breakfast. First thing in the morning like bacon, sausages, doughnuts which are fatty and sugary foods that increase the acid reflux. Oatmeal is a better choice. Many patients report an improvement in the symptoms of acid reflux when they switch their breakfast to oatmeal. Also, it’s got plenty of fibre which is good for our Gut.

3. FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
  • Watermelon is very good as it is a low-acid fruit that won’t trigger your symptoms.
  • Bananas, melons, apples, and pears among others are non-citrus fruits and very good for people with acid reflux. 
  • Raw or cooked, vegetables are generally good for an acid reflux diet. 
  • Recommended vegetables include all root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, and carrots. Other great vegetables include mushrooms, fennel, and celery.
4. WARM WATER

Drink 2 glasses of warm water first thing in the morning before you eat anything. This is a wonderful tip and I have tried this on myself and a number of patients suffering from acid reflux.

The logic behind drinking warm water first thing in the morning is that when you wake up, your stomach is completely empty and warm water flushes the walls of your stomach and increases the blood flow in it. This increased blood flow brings in important growth factors that heal already existing erosions or minor ulcers in the stomach and also make the walls of the stomach and esophagus healthy which helps in regulating acid production. Practice this tip daily and you will observe improvement in your symptoms within 10 days.

For more info regarding foods that can be included check this article 10 Home remedies to cure acidity instantly

LIFESTYLE MODIFICATIONS

  • Don’t go to bed with a full stomach. Eat meals at least 2-3 hours before lying down. This will give food, the time to digest and get out of your stomach.
  • Don’t overeat. Eat smaller portions at mealtimes or try to eat four to five small meals instead of three big ones. Raise the head end of your bed by placing wood or cement blocks under the feet of your bed so that the head end is raised by 6 to 9 inches. This ensures that the acid doesn’t reflux easily into the esophagus while you are sleeping.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight especially due to abdominal obesity can put pressure on your abdomen, pushing up your stomach and causing acid reflux.
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing. Clothes that fit tightly around your waist put pressure on your abdomen and the lower esophageal sphincter.
  • Stop smoking Smoking decreases the lower esophageal sphincter’s ability to function properly and also leads to excessive secretion of acid in your stomach.

So, these were some lifestyle and dietary modifications that you can do to prevent and decrease the symptoms of acid reflux disease.

In extreme cases, some people have to undergo surgery to tighten the LES to minimize their distress. But we can often stop heartburn before it reaches that point. Reducing the consumption of certain foods, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight can all dramatically reduce reflux. With proper care we can help our LES’s keep the chemical fountain of our stomachs in proper order and avoid having to feel the burn.

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