By Mrinal Pandit, Chief Dietician, NephroPlus
Burps, heartburn, constipation and bloating are all symptoms of acidity. If not arrested at early stages, these can lead to serious damage to the stomach wall resulting in ulcers and bleeding as well.
The major reasons for hyperactive acidity is irregular meal timing, pH of food, consumption of spice and irregular lifestyle.
Our blood requires right amount of acid and base compounds to function properly and maintain homeostasis. This is known as acid-base balance. However, this is disturbed in some conditions such as:
-Uncontrolled diabetes, which exhibits acidosis
-Fasting during weight reductions or religious restrictions
-During renal failure
The food that we eat is metabolized by our body and broken down to their metabolic products. Depending on whether their final degradation products are acidic or basic, they are classified as acid producing or alkali producing foods. The nature of the food can alter homeostasis and lead to acidity or alkalosis.
Kidneys and lungs maintain acid-base balance and this is measured on a pH scale. The pH of normal blood plasma must be within the narrow limits of 7.35-7.45.The pH of foods below (acid forming food) or above (base forming food) these figures , can disturb the pH of blood and may require immediate therapeutic measures.
When you inhale, you breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide from the body. If the body does not get rid of the excess carbon dioxide, it combines with other carbonic acid in the body and causes acidity. There are other clinical conditions like Hiatus Hernia and Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD) etc. that can also lead to acidity.
Below is the list of pH of common foods and their effect on the body.
If you see the above chart, most of the fruits and vegetable form alkali base and meat, chicken, fish form acid base. Fats, oils and simple sugar are neutral in nature and do not contribute to any changes in the body pH. Severe acidity indicates too much consumption of acid forming foods in the meal. In case of severe acidity, consumption of low potassium vegetables and fruits can counteract the excess acid and balance the pH. Consult your Dietitian/Consultant to know more about acid-alkali diet.
General tips to avoid acid reflux
-Avoid large meals, have small, frequent meals instead
-Do not lie down immediately after meals; sit upright at least for 1 hour before and after a meal.
-Don’t drink too much fluid in between meals as fluid dilutes the digestives enzymes and slows down the process, leading to indigestion.
-Use fats in limited quantities as they result in delayed gastric emptying.
-Eating too fast can increase the risk of acid reflux. Slow down and have leisurely meals.
-Always sip water from a glass, gulping water from bottle (when you do not touch bottle to the lips) leads to more swallowing of air and results into gaseous distention.
-Sipping cold milk every 20 mins may help reduce acidity.