Anyone who has acidity can agree how painful and inconvenient it is. Severe cases go to the extreme of anything eaten causes an acidic reaction as it travels down the food pipe. So the action begins right after you swallow the food. Eventually a stage comes when you are forced to have a digestive tablet without which you cannot even have regular meals.
Acidity is known by many names, heartburn, GERD, acid reflux, acidosis and so on. We shall stick to the common definition to make this article more simpler.
Important Note – There are lots of articles and videos explaining various reasons and remedies for acidity. Most of them are factually incorrect. They almost consistently avoid the main reason for acidity, excessive consumption of carbs, refined carbs and sugars while suggesting many other remedies.
Acidity is closely connected with the levels of uric acid in your body. So there are two articles on uric acid whose link will be given at the end of the article.
Acid is required by the stomach to digest food. The more stronger the acid, the faster and better your digestion will take place. Improper digestion is the root cause of several lifestyle ailments we are suffering in the modern world.
Acidity is a recent thing. Just 100 years old. It has come along with the modern lifestyle and processed food consumption. Welcome to the modern food industry.
Talking about stomach acid, one example comes to mind, the Bearded Vulture. Living in the mountain ranges, this bird mostly feeds on bones of dead animals and birds. Their stomach acid is considered to be the strongest which can quickly dissolve bones of even large size.
Acid strength is measured in terms of PH levels, lower the PH level, stronger the acid. Stomach acid levels are between 1 and 2 which makes it highly acidic. There is also a protection mechanism inside the stomach so that the acid does not damage other organs and inner lining of the stomach. Every day the stomach lining is repaired at night, four hours after sunset, this repair process begins. That is why it is very important to finish your meals well before sleep time. Imagine the big fat Indian weddings and social evenings which go late into the night causing so much damage to your stomach mucus and lining because you are force feeding it while the repair process is happening.
Low acid levels will lead to undigested food entering the small intestine which hampers the absorption of nutrients and will cause other issues. Age and stress are two common causes of low stomach acid levels.
Mechanism of Acidity
Let us begin our detailed explanation with Lower Esophageal Sphincter or LES which is the hero or villain of the acidity problem for many humans. It is a muscle which closes or opens the pathway to the stomach. It is like a guard valve.
When we eat food, it enters the food pipe which is a long and narrow tube which drops into the stomach. As soon as the body senses food entering the food pipe, the LES is supposed to open and allow the food to come in and then shut tight to ensure proper digestion. This is also the reason why it is called Sphincter.
If this valve opens, acid from the stomach can enter the esophagus and even reach the throat causing irritation. Gravity might not help because the acid being liquid can climb up the food pipe tissue by tissue reaching the throat. It is many circumstances even reaches the mouth. Familiar with the term khatti dakar or sour burp or belch?
Why does the LES open at random times
One of the main reason for this valve opening is stomach pressure. A heavy meal or a stomach full meal is most likely to create pressure upwards forcing the valve to open. Gulping food with lot of air, not chewing the food properly and social pressure to eat stomach-full are the most important reasons for this problem. The mother and wife combined forces will never relent from causing this indirect reaction.
A simple solution to this would be to eat in small quantities and break one big meal into smaller portions. The age old rules of chewing properly and allowing saliva to mix with food applies here too. Keeping yourself 40% hungry allows the stomach muscles to grind the food into smaller bits while the digestive juices break it down further.
LES is a sphincter muscle which means that it has to shut tight. But there is a speculation that if you lay on the bed after having a meal, it might open. This is actually an age old saying. So better stick to it. Sit and have your meal and after finishing your meal, keep sitting for at least half an hour.
For some people smoking and drinking can trigger acidity. So moderation is suggested way out.
Certain food products like chocolate, garlic, onions and chilies might trigger a heartburn.
Tight clothes or jeans might trigger acid reaction.
Is there a link between insulin resistance, ultra processed foods and heartburn
You will find a lot of conflicting opinion here. No food company will ever sponsor a research which even remotely establishes this connection. So see this in a logical way. Anything that is commercially prepared, fried, baked and processed and packed, will trigger acidity reaction. There is all likely hood that if you are suffering from metabolic syndrome, acidity is almost a guarantee. You need to take immediate steps to reduce belly fat.
The first immediate step to be taken is to replace the processed food with these five food which will immensely benefit you immediately.
- Curd, Yoghurt, Panner and Cheese
- Salad veggies like cucumber, bell peppers, watermelon, carrot, etc without the salad dressing
- Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pista and pumpkin seeds to begin with
- Vegetables like bhindi, karela & Indian green beans which are commonly available in India
- Four eggs a day (preferably desi) and four lemons in the morning
So till now we have seen the various reasons for acidity with some easy and doable remedies. The last reason that we shall cover is the most common reason for acidity. But keep in mind, the remedy is not easy. We are talking about belly fat. Any kind of fat around your waist means that there is additional pressure on the stomach. So if you have belly fat and you have acidity then it is surely connected and you need to take immediate steps to reduce belly fat.
- Start with intermittent fasting and club it with a low carb and low sugar diet.
- Increase the consumption of good fat like desi ghee, avocado and olive oil.
- Reduce your stress levels by eating early dinner, going for a walk and sleeping early.
- Start some sort of exercise preferrable resistance and weight training for re adjusting the belly fat to other areas.
- Switch off the TV and mobile after 8 pm.
- Use a table clock to check the time.
Acidity or acid reflux is as unique as an individual person. However one in every three people are suffering some sort of acidity related heartburn. You can either start investigating the reasons behind your problem or make sweeping changes to your lifestyle. Just by popping in Pudin Hara or dissolving a sachet of Eno is only delaying the agony.