Dietary Guidelines to Manage and Avoid Acidity Problems
Acidity is usually manifested as a burning sensation in the digestive tract. The reason is that a high concentration of digestive enzymes and acids are forming in the tract. The first reason for this is irregular meal times. If the gap between any two meals is very long, then the acid collects in the empty stomach and sometimes rises in the esophagus making the burning sensation come up even towards the throat.
The first rule is not to keep the body empty of food or water early in the morning. On rising we recommend 2 large glasses or 1/2 litre of warm water which clears the tract and then some warm milk or milky coffee/tea may be had. The coffee and tea are best avoided if the acidity is severe. Those who are unable to take anything with milk may eat two dry figs or a Marie biscuit or light cracker so that the stomach is not kept empty. Then an hour later breakfast may be eaten.
If breakfast is had at 8 am there should be a fresh fruit and plenty of water by 11am. This is to be followed by lunch at 1pm. After this normally the gap to dinner is 7-8 hours so we recommend two snacks. A 4pm snack of 1 glass milk plus 2 Marie biscuits/cracker and a 6pm snack of a fruit are a must. Dinner should be between 7-9pm and if you stay up late then you may have 1/2 cup warm milk before sleeping so that you don't sleep on an empty stomach.
Some foods cause more irritation then others. Green chillies and all other spices, chilly powder, etc. increase the burning sensation and must be strictly controlled. Very sour foods like citric fruit, lime juice and too much tamarind or tomato may also increase the irritation. In our observation we have seen that not only are spicy foods a problem but also very rich fatty foods increase the acidity a lot. The problem is that fats take 6-8 hours to get digested and the enzymes and acids of this digestion are lying in the tract for such a long duration and this causes a lot of irritation.
Pickles and coconut chutney are to be forbidden to a person suffering from acidity for almost a month or two till relief comes. These two are not only spicy but also very high in fat content. All deep fried snacks and papads must be avoided for 1-2 months. Also oily non-veg dishes like fried mutton, beef, etc. are very dangerous because of too much fat in them.
Another big cause of acidity is that the quantity of water you are drinking is not enough for you. All those who have an acidity problem must drink at least 3 litres of water daily. Buttermilk also has a soothing effect on the digestive tract. Besides the above, cigarette smoking, tobacco chewing and pan chewing can increase acidity. Also stress and tension increases the production of acids therefore if you have this problem and control the diet but the stress is still severe then the acidity may continue. Untreated acidity may lead to the formation of peptic ulcers in the digestive tract.
Walking helps to relieve stress and this may help to regulate and reduce the acid formation. So walk and water must be done along with dieting for the best results.
Those who have an acidity problem should avoid any kind of fasting and never try to follow any weight reduction programme which involves fasting and long durations without any food. Three regular carbohydrate and protein balanced meals along with three snacks of fruit and the tea time snack is the ideal eating pattern to be followed even for those who are trying to lose weight.