Many of us are all too familiar with that burning sensation in the chest and the stomach especially enjoying a hearty meal. This uncomfortable sensation is known as acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and is a prevalent digestive disorder that affects countless individuals all over the world.
According to Ayurveda, acid reflux occurs primarily due to an imbalance in the "Pitta" dosha, represented by the fire and water elements in the body. Pitta dosha governs digestion, and excess Pitta can lead to increased acid production and inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.
While conventional medicine focuses on managing symptoms, Ayurveda takes a holistic approach that addresses the root cause and works to prevent it and eliminate it completely. Here are some simple home remedies for acidity and lifestyle modifications you can try to restore balance in your doshas and promote optimal digestive health.
1. Avoid Foods That Trigger Acidity
Eating certain kinds of foods such as fried and spicy dishes and foods that are very sour to taste among others, may make acid reflux symptoms worse.
Here are a few foods that you should avoid to reduce acid reflux:
Fried and fatty foods
Fat heavy foods take longer to digest, which might increase stomach pressure and increase the risk of acid reflux. Steer clear of fried foods, fatty meat cuts, whole-fat dairy products, and oily snacks
Foods that are heavily seasoned with spices such as chilli powder, black pepper, and hot chilli peppers can irritate the oesophagus and make your acid reflux worse
Coffee and caffeinated beverages
This includes coffee, tea, energy drinks. Caffeine can stimulate acid production in the stomach and relax the lower esophageal sphincter, making it easier for stomach acid to enter the oesophagus
Citrus fruits and juices
Oranges, lemons,sweet limes (mosambi), and their juices are highly acidic and can trigger your acid reflux symptoms
Tomatoes and tomato-based products
Tomatoes are naturally acidic in nature and can increase stomach acid production, so it is best to avoid eating tomatoes or tomato based foods like ketchup and soups.
2. Adjust your Sleep Position
It may come as a surprise but your sleeping position may be causing your symptoms of acidity. Here are some tips on adjusting your sleep position which can give you some relief:
Elevate your upper body
Use gravity to your advantage by raising the upper part of your body while sleeping, this elevation helps prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the oesophagus. If you suffer from acidity regularly, especially at night, consider using a wedge pillow or propping up the head of your bed by 6-8 inches
Find a comfortable and supportive mattress
A good quality mattress that provides the right support which helps maintain proper alignment of your body while sleeping, reducing the chances of acid reflux symptoms.
3. Maintain a Moderate Weight
Maintaining a healthy and sustainable weight is key to help prevent acidity and reduce the risk of acid reflux. Excess weight, especially around the abdominal area, puts pressure on the stomach and increases the likelihood of stomach acid flowing back into the oesophagus.
Maintaining weight helps reduce abdominal pressure, improves digestion.
Obesity is known to cause slower digestion and chronic inflammation both of which affect the functioning of the gastrointestinal system and contribute to acid reflux. Regular movement, a healthy balanced diet are some ways in which you can maintain a healthy weight and body.
4. Avoid late meals, snacking before bed
Time for digestion
When you eat, your body produces stomach acid to help break down the food. Eating late at night, having extremely heavy meals or snacking before bed doesn't give your body enough time to fully digest the food before lying down. And as mentioned earlier, when you're in a horizontal position, gravity isn't able to assist in keeping the stomach acid down, making it easier for it to flow back up into the oesophagus.
Acid production regulation
Eating triggers the release of stomach acid to aid digestion. Meals closer to bedtime can lead to excess production of stomach acid even when it's not needed for immediate digestion. The surplus of acid increases the likelihood of acid reflux. Avoiding late meals allows your body to regulate stomach acid production more effectively.
5. Limit Carbonated Beverage Consumption
Carbonated drinks contribute to acidity and increase the risk of acid reflux for several reasons:
Relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)
The carbonation in drinks can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which is a muscular ring that acts as a barrier between the stomach and the oesophagus. When the LES relaxes, it becomes easier for stomach acid to flow back up into the oesophagus, resulting in acid reflux symptoms.
Sodas and certain sparkling waters can be highly acidic in nature. The combination of carbonation and high acidity can further irritate the lining of the oesophagus and increase the likelihood of acid reflux.
It's important to note that the effects of carbonated drinks on acidity can vary for individuals. While some may be more sensitive to the carbonation and acidity, others may tolerate them better. If you already experience acidity or acid reflux symptoms, it is best to limit or avoid carbonated drinks.
6. Limit your Alcohol Intake and Quit Smoking
Alcohol and smoking contribute to the development or worsening of acidity, primarily by increasing the production of stomach acid and compromising the natural defences of the gastrointestinal system.
Stimulation of acid secretion
Alcohol consumption stimulates the release of stomach acid, leading to an increase in gastric acid production.
Additionally alcohol has an irritating effect on the stomach lining, which can lead to inflammation and increased acid production.
Reduced saliva production
Smoking reduces saliva production, which plays a protective role in neutralising acid and maintaining a healthy pH balance in the oesophagus and stomach. The reduced saliva flow can contribute to increased acidity.
Delayed gastric emptying
Smoking can also slow down the process of emptying the stomach, leading to a longer exposure of stomach acid to the oesophagus.
Excessive alcohol consumption and smoking have several other effects that are detrimental overall health, including increasing the risk of gastrointestinal diseases like ulcers and gastritis. Quitting smoking and moderating alcohol intake are crucial steps in maintaining a healthy digestive system and reducing acidity-related issues.
In addition to these changes, Ayurveda suggests certain lifestyle modifications which can significantly alleviate acid reflux symptoms. Avoiding excessive heat and stress, as they can exacerbate Pitta. Engaging in calming activities such as yoga, meditation, and pranayama (breathing exercises) can help balance the doshas and promote overall well-being. It is also recommended to maintain a regular sleep schedule.
If you are someone who is affected by acidity on a daily basis along with issues such as bloating, taking a deeper look into your gut health may be advisable. A lot of our health problems, such as digestive issues, skin-related issues and even mental health are affected by a disrupted gut health. Maintaining a healthy gut and a proper balance of the good and bad bacteria in the gut is a must. A great way on how to reduce acidity and to look after your gut health is with the help of gut health supplements. Including prebiotics for gut health and probiotics for gut health along with other soothing ingredients such as Ginger, Mulethi etc which help keep your gut functioning at its optimal is something one must do. Panchamrit’s Gut Health effervescents combine all the Ayurvedic ingredients along with Probiotics and help you not only reduce your acid reflux symptoms but eliminate them completely from the root.
While there are several short term, immediate use medications and methods available in the market today that may give you temporary relief from your acid reflux symptoms, it is best to eliminate the problem from the root and make essential lifestyle changes and use these simple home remedies to reduce acid reflux and including prebiotic supplements and gut health supplements in your daily routine. But remember if you're experiencing persistent acidity or related symptoms, it's best to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and guidance.
Also Read: How to Improve Your Gut Health?