A lot of you suffer from regular acidity problems, belching and burps after you eat your meals. In this blog, I explain what acid reflux is, how it is caused, and some tips for immediate relief.
What is Acid Reflux?
In the centre of your chest, there is a small, muscular tunnel that separates the end of your esophagus (food pipe) from your stomach, known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When you eat, this tunnel is open for the food to travel into your stomach. At all other times, it is closed and that prevents all food and digestive fluids from traveling upward from your stomach.
Acid reflux is just having an open tunnel or a loose sphincter when it should be tight. It does not mean that there is too much stomach acid! That is where we go wrong, and start popping PPI pills to make the acid reflux go away, which causes more harm in the long run by reducing the acid that’s needed for proper digestion.
Acid reflux does not mean excessive stomach acid. It only means that stomach acid is in the wrong place. It is important to treat the root cause, and not suppress the symptoms by taking medicines after every meal.
Tips to get rapid relief from these digestive issues:
• Chew more – This is a very simple suggestion, but also very powerful and something we all often forget. Chewing your food properly ensures that the stomach is not working extra hard to break down your food, which should have happened in the mouth in the first place. Chew your food until it’s liquid, and then gulp it down.
• No water with meals – Too much liquid during meals can dilute the digestive enzymes and the stomach acid, thus making it difficult to digest the food you are eating.
• Eat less – Eat till you are only 80% full, so that your stomach gets enough room to digest the meal properly.
• Stop eating these foods – Certain foods cause irritation to your sphincter. Avoid foods like cooked tomato sauce or puree, citrus juices, coffee, black tea, soda, alcohol, peppery or spicy foods, fried food and chocolates, till you start feeling better again.
• Don’t eat anything for 2-3 hours before sleep time – At night, all our muscles relax, including the sphincter. If you eat too late at night, and that food is not digested by the time you sleep, you are very likely to face reflux issues at night.
If all of these don’t work for you, seek help from a functional nutritionist who can help in identifying the root cause of your issues which could be food sensitivities, nutritional deficiencies, bacterial or yeast overgrowth in the stomach or sensitivities to certain medications. It could also be that your stomach is producing insufficient acid for digestion, which needs to be rectified.
My program on managing GERD can be found here: https://www.smritikochar.com/programs/disease-management-and-remission/