That burning sensation!

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Ate that extra vada pav? Had the paani puri in its spiciest form? Wish you had not eaten so many pakodas? Well, your burning stomach is good enough punishment for those extra cravings. We Indians love our spicy food and acidity is like a ‘ghar – ki bimari’. Popping that pill doesn’t always reduce the sensation. What’s more? There is that underlying awareness that it can lead to bigger problems like stomach ulcer and so on. Or is there?

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A majority of us have suffered acidity at least once our lives; when it happens more than 2 – 3 times a week it is called the ‘acid – reflux disease’. Our eating habits and our lazy lifestyle is a combination that leads to many health problems and this is just one of them – fortunately a one that can be controlled. Why does one get acid – reflux? Your stomach has something called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) at its entrance which is like a ring that closes every time there is food in the stomach and your digestive processes are on. Sometimes the ring does not close properly and the acid that is used in digestion is released. Symptoms of acid – reflux or acidity includes:

  • Heartburn which is like a burning pain or discomfort that may move from your stomach to your abdomen or chest, or even up into your throat. This is should not be confused with the chest pain one gets before a heart attack.
  • Regurgitation which is like a sour or bitter-tasting acid backing up into your throat or mouth
  • Bloating.
  • Bloody or black stools or bloody vomiting.
  • Burping.
  • Dysphagia which is a narrowing of one’s oesophagus and creates the sensation of food being stuck in the throat.
  • Nausea.
  • Weight loss for no known reason.
  • Wheezing, dry cough, hoarseness, or chronic sore throat.
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Hiccups that don’t let up.
  • Constipation.

If you get any of the above mentioned symptoms, avoid having these:

  • Citrus (oranges, grapes etc.)
  • Chocolates.
  • Caffeine (no tea either) and alcohol.
  • Spicy and fried food.
  • Garlic and onions.
  • Peppermint
  • Tomatoes
  • Aerated drinks.

Some other cause of acidity includes pregnancy, being overweight or obese, stress and anxiety and long periods of not eating. Smoking also happens to be one of the causes of acidity. Antacids aren’t always helpful and its overuse can lead the stomach to be immune to it. The best you could do is to prevent it –

  • By not consuming spicy, oily and staying away from non – vegetarian food.
  • Consumption of fruits and vegetables.
  • Eating small and regular meals.
  • Having your meal at least an hour or two before sleeping. Sleeping immediately after eating could also lead to acidity.
  • Chew tulsi leaves, cloves, saunf etc.
  • Reducing your levels of stress and exercising daily.

So despite your best efforts you still manage to get acidity, here’s what you could do. If it isn’t severe you could pop an antacid. But there are some natural remedies that prove excellent in treating acidity.

  • Eating bananas. Bananas have high amounts of potassium which is an alkalized material coupled with a low pH level that helps treat acidity by reducing those excess levels of gas. Overripe bananas have a higher level of potassium that helps fight acidity better.
  • Cold milk. Cold milk without sugar helps greatly in relieving the self from the burning sensation in the stomach. Its high amount of calcium prevents acidity build – up. Cold milk is more effective if one adds a teaspoon of ghee to it.
  • Tulsi. About 5 – 6 leaves of tulsi (basil) after a meal help combat acidity as tulsi proves to be an excellent digestive agent. It reduces the effect of peptic acids and prevents the excessive formation of gas.
  • Saunf. Saunf is usually used as a mouth freshener in India after meals. But it has many hidden qualities. Eating saunf (fennel) seeds after meals (especially spicy ones) aids digestion and relieves constipation. Also it is rich in volatile acids that highly potent in preventing ulcers. In situation when you have sudden bouts of acidity, boil some saunf and keep it overnight, the water helps relieve acidity.
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  • Jeera. Jeera or cumin seeds have properties that stimulate the saliva needed for digestion, improves metabolism and relieves gastric problems.
  • Cloves. They help in the movement of food down the stomach. It also produces saliva. When suffering from acidity, bite into a clove. Its pungent taste will be released into the mouth and hence the stomach lowering the intensity of the acid reflux.
  • Cardamom. Cardamom is used in Ayurveda and believed to be the one food that balances the threes doshas – vata, pitta and kapha. It stimulates digestions and relieves people of spasms in the stomach. Chewing into it relieves acidity and it also serves as a cooling agent for the stomach helping it reduce the mucus lining on the walls of the stomach formed during an acid reflux.
  • Mint or pudina. It lowers the acid content in stomach and aids digestion. Its cooling properties help in relieving the pain and the burning sensation. Take a couple of mint leaves and put them in boiling water. Drink the water after it cools down.
  • Ginger. Ginger helps in digestion as it breaks down the essential nutrients in the food thus improving its absorption and its assimilation. You can either chew a piece of ginger for relief or if you find it too pungent, you can try boiling it in water and drinking it. You could also crush the ginger, mix it with a small piece of jaggery and keeping sucking on it allowing the juice to slowly reach the stomach.
  • Amla. Its vitamin C content is a cooler of the kapha and the pitta. Having one teaspoon of amla powder a day helps keeps acidity at bay.

Although there are several remedies for acidity doesn’t mean that you can give into your cravings. Prevention is always better than cure. Why go through all the pain and discomfort when all you need is some control?