Acidity and heartburnBouts of heartburn and acidity (medically called gastro-esophageal reflux disease-GERD) are common in people who follow unhealthy eating pattern and love spicy junk food. And, almost every person who has had episode of sour stomach, heart burn, pain and frequent stomach upsets must have popped an antacid to get instant relief. Although antacids can give you relief within an hour, there are certain negative effects that it can have on your digestive system from a long-term perspective. Instead if you incorporate these 10 changes your lifestyle, you can stop recurring episodes of acidity and heartburn forever.

1. Eat healthy: If you frequently suffer from acid reflux then there are some foods you should cut down in your diet. Spicy foods like samosas, burgers and chips and desserts or sweets including chocolate, doughnuts and cakes are main culprits of acidity. You should also avoid eating citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit and lemons if you have recurring acidity. Because of a high acid level, these fruits can worsen the symptoms for you.

2. Change your eating pattern: Apart from what you eat, how much you eat is also important. The quantity of food you eat significantly affects the digestion process. People who take a long gaps between two meals tend to overeat. Overeating increases the load on the digestive system to cause excess acid production. Instead have small meals spread frequently in a day (2-3 times in a day).

3. Eat slowly: According to a study presented at the Digestive Disease Week 2003, people who had a 30-minute meal reported episodes of acid reflux 8.5 times whereas people who had a 5-minute meal reported acidity 12.5 times in total. The researchers suggested that overeating loads the stomach with larger amount of food that causes over-acid production.

4. Avoid sleeping with a full stomach: Often when you eat late at night, you feel so tired that you doze off within an hour of eating. This is one habit that you must change. When you sleep you entire body functions slow down. As a result digestion problems like acidity creep in. Make sure you have your dinner 2-3 hours before you go to bed.

5. Stay fit: Being overweight is already linked with so many health conditions and acid reflux is just another addition to the list. There’s a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine which concluded that women who were obese were two to three times more likely to have frequent acid reflux symptoms as compared to thinner or fitter women.

6. Increase water intake: Water is the best remedy for acid reflux. It not only helps to stop acidity but also helps in digestion and has great overall health benefits. A study published in the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences has shown that water is more-effective in beating acidity than acid-inhibiting medications. Study participants who had a glass of water showed increased gastric pH (more than 4) within one minute of intake compared to acid-inhibiting drugs which took over 2 hours to have the same effect.

7. Avoid tea, coffee: Caffeinated beverages like tea, coffee, cola etc are known triggers of acidity. Although there is no specific evidence that coffee or caffeinated beverages can change gastric pH and cause reflux, avoiding caffeine is one of the recommendations given to patients as the first-line treatment of GERD maybe because the triggers for acidity vary from person to person. So, if you notice that coffee intake is worsening your condition you should stop taking it.

8. Limit alcohol intake:  There are various studies which show an association between alcohol abuse and GERD. Alcohol may cause direct damage to the gastric mucosa. It also relaxes the esophageal sphincter which causes the acid to creep into the esophagus.

9. Quit smoking: Smoking can worsen the condition in people who are prone to acidity. Cigarette smoke has nicotine which irritates the stomach linings. Smoking also induces relaxation of the esophageal sphincter and stimulates acid production.

10. Change your sleeping posture: Sleeping with your head elevated can relieve acidity symptoms during night time. A study showed that sleeping in the elevated head position causes rapid acid clearance (67%). Acid clearance is the drainage of stomach acid from the esophagus.

Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of acidity.

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