Also known as acid dyspepsia, reflux or heartburn, acidity is uncomfortable to begin with and if not treated, can later develop into more serious problems. Often mistaken as a mild stomach ache, or feeling of indigestion or nausea, we have all experienced acidity before, generally after a heavy or fatty meal. If acidity occurs only occasionally, there are ways to prevent it from happening in the first place or various remedies that could help relieve the symptoms, however if the symptoms persist on a continual basis (more than twice a week), it is advisable to seek medical attention.
What is acidity?
Acidity or acid dyspepsia is a disease caused by a bad diet – eating the incorrect foods and bad eating habits and insubstantial digestion of these foods due to lack of exercise. Rich, oily foods cause the production of more acid (hydrochloric acid) in the stomach in order to digest the food and break it down into the various energies, such as carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids, glucose, various vitamins and minerals etc. If the body produces too much hydrochloric acid (caused by eating too many rich foods too often), the excess acid remains in the system and begins to destroy the digestive system. Food enters the stomach through a valve called the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES), which usually closes after the food enters. When there is excess acid in the stomach, this acid escapes through this valve, travels up the oesophagus, and creates feelings of indigestion, nausea, stomach aches – known as acid reflux or acidity.
What causes acidity?
Generally, acidity is caused by the release of excess acid into the oesophagus and this can be caused by a number of things:
- Eating rich and oily, salty, spicy or very sweet foods;
- Acidic drinks or foods such as lemons;
- Coffee, alcohol, smoking and drugs;
- Tension, stress, worry;
- Lack of exercise or physical movement
- Frequent consumption of allopathic medicines like aspirin or pain killers.
Another common cause of acidity is an abnormality in the stomach called a hiatal hernia, which occurs when the upper part of the stomach and LES move above the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle that separates your stomach from your chest and usually helps keep acid in your belly, but this movement can cause acidity to occur.
What are the symptoms of acidity?
Symptoms can include:
- Heartburn, chest pain, stomach aches;
- Indigestion and severe constipation;
- Nausea, sour belching, and vomiting;
- Desire or aversion for some particular types of food;
Home remedies to cure acidity
As uncomfortable as acidity is, there are a few home remedies that can help ease the discomfort.
1. Buttermilk- The best-known home remedy for acidity is good old buttermilk. Buttermilk contains lactic acid that neutralizes acidity in the stomach and reduces the symptoms of acidity. Drink a glass of buttermilk a few times a day to keep acid reflux at bay. Add a dash of black pepper, coriander or crushed fenugreek seeds for extra taste.
2. Basil Leaves- The soothing, calming properties of basil leaves can help relieve the symptoms of acid reflux. Simply chew a few basil leaves at the first sign of acidity, or boil some water and steep a few basil leaves in the boiling water and drink as a tea.
3. Cinnamon- Cinnamon is an excellent spice that works wonders on the digestive system as a natural antacid, helping to dispel stomach gas. Just add a half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder to a cup of boiling water, mix well and drink as a tea, at least three times a day. Add cinnamon powder to your cooking as well, in soups, salads and vegetable dishes.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar– Ironically, although apple cider vinegar is acidic in nature, it has an alkalizing effect on the stomach and helps relieve the symptoms of dyspepsia. Just mix two teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with a cup of water and drink before each meal.
5. Cloves and Cumin Seeds- Cloves and cumin seeds are natural wonders when it comes to alleviating acidity and dispelling any extra gas in the stomach, which can be the cause of discomfort. Simply chew two or three cloves to release the juices into your system. Alternatively, crush cloves, cumin seeds, cardamom and a bit of fresh mint together and steep in boiling water to create a tea, which can help minimize acid trouble and freshen bad breath at the same time.