Everything you need to know about acid
What You Need to Know About Acid Reflux – Live Better
Have you ever had to stop an activity midway in the day because of a funny feeling in your stomach? It doesn’t feel like a stomach ache, but in fact, something worse brewing inside the deep crevices of your abdomen. Many of us have used the word ‘acidity’ as a casual reference to this unpleasantness. But do we actually know how serious a problem acidity can pose to our health, both short and long term?
So let’s begin by talking about what acidity really is. It can be loosely termed as a set of symptoms that are caused by excess production of acid by the stomach’s gastric glands. Hydrochloric acid is secreted by the stomach to breakdown and digest food that we have consumed. The lining of the stomach is adapted to produce this acid and protect the digestive systems against this secretion. But the upper portion of our stomach is not protected from this acid. Here, a ring of muscle called the gastroesophageal sphincter protects the oesophagus from the contents of the stomach. It acts like a valve that lets food into the stomach but doesn’t let it go back into the oesophagus. But, when the valve begins to dysfunction, the contents in the stomach are thrown back into the oesophagus and this is when the symptoms of acid reflux begin to take form. Basically, when the wall between stomach and food pipe gets loose because of all irregular and bad eating habits, all the acid travels up into the chest food pipe up to the oral cavity and forms mouth ulcers. All this acid reflux can go into the lungs and damage them.
Now that we know what exactly takes place inside our system when suffering from acid reflux, it is important to know what causes it to take place. Obviously there is something that we aren’t doing right which is hampering the system’s natural course of action.
Although we can break down the causes into several little contributors, there are two major umbrella problems that attribute themselves to the creation of acid reflux:
1) Not eating right.
2) Not eating regularly.
Let’s explore the first problem in detail. Spicy food, dairy products, fried food, chocolate, soda, alcohol, high-fat meats are recognised contributors to acid reflux. Yes, unfortunately we just listed all the things you love to eat. These ‘contributors’ enter our system and cause excessive production of acid, over and above the normal limit that the body naturally produces. There are also a few of us who have, what is called, an acid stomach. They are more susceptible to acidity issues and even the slightest slip from their end can trigger it. These acid-producing foods can also cause acidity in the urine and form a type of kidney stone called uric acid stones. The repercussions are plenty.
Although many will be quick to point fingers at spicy and fried food, there are two major contributors to the Indian diet that often go unnoticed as the bad guys – milk and chana daal. Avoiding milk and chana daal will rid you of 50% of acidity problems.
The second big problem in question is irregularity in consuming meals.In our present day, work has taken a big chunk of our time. Most office-goers are overworked and have adapted to living such a lifestyle. This often leads to irregularity in food. At home, most of us have fixed hours of having breakfast, lunch and dinners. But at work, this is overseen. Many prefer to eat on the go or eat while simultaneously typing away on their computer whereas many others forgo their meals altogether because of work stress. This has become a major cause of acid reflux. As the stomach keeps producing acid, there is no food finding its way into the system to neutralise the acid. Also, stress plays a big role in aggravating acidity. Stress leads to anxiety and anxiety causes more acid secretion that, eventually, harms the stomach because there is no food coming into the stomach to neutralise the acid.
Fasting rituals are also an invitation for acid reflux. Religions across the country preach fasting as a way to appease the almighty. But it has adverse effects on our body system in many ways than we can imagine. Once again, as food and liquids are kept away, acid secretion is not neutralised and this often leads to severe problems like heartburn, acid ulcers, severe acidity and a lot of reflux.
Now that we have spoken about acidity and what contributes to it, tune into our next blog to find ways to tackle acid reflux and why it isn’t as small an issue as you think it is. – Acidity – How you can detect the big ‘A’