Acidity is a medical condition which results from excessive secretion of acid in the stomach. Some of the common symptoms of acidity include respiratory problems, heartburn, chest pain, stomach ache, flatulence, sudden weight loss, lack of appetite, vomiting, burping, bitter taste in mouth, pressure in chest after eating, irritation in the rectal region, and blood in the stools.
Acidity is usually caused by the consumption of foods which are considered acidic, and affect the blood pH level in the body. Acidic blood can adversely affect the body’s ability to perform important functions like digestion and energy production. This is a result of the improper functioning of the cells which do not receive enough oxygen due to acidic blood, and cannot effectively transport oxygen to the organs of the body.
In order to understand the problem of acidity, it is important to know about ‘pH value’ which shows whether a substance is an acid (pH of 0), neutral (pH of 7), or base or alkaline (pH of 14). For instance, battery acid is extremely acidic at 0; while pure distilled water is neutral at 7, and liquid drain cleaner is extremely alkaline at 14.
Similar to substances, different parts of the body also have different pH levels. The ideal pH level for blood ranges between 7.35 and 7.45, which is somewhat alkaline. However, the stomach typically has a pH value of 3.5, which helps it to break down the food properly and kill of harmful pathogens and bacteria.
Foods which have a pH level of 4.6 or lower are considered ‘acidic.’ Hence, it is important for people suffering from acidity to change their dietary habits, and reduce or eliminate the intake of foods which have a tendency to cause more acidity in the body.
Acidity and Ayurveda
Pitta imbalance is the main reason behind the occurrence of acidity because Pitta is governed by the elements of Fire and Water, which are associated with the digestive fire and stomach enzymes. As such, people who have a Pitta constitution mostly suffer from health conditions like hyperacidity, peptic ulcers and heartburn. The Pitta dosha gets aggravated because of intake of hot and spicy foods, and other factors like stress, anger, and extremely hot environment.
Ayurvedic treatment of acidity focuses on the use of herbal formulations and dietary/lifestyle recommendations, which can keep the body’s Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas in equilibrium.
Foods to avoid in Acidity
Since acidity is caused by the consumption of certain kinds of foods which have a low pH level, it is imperative that people who are affected by the disorder should make changes to their diet to help improve the symptoms of the condition.
Some of the foods and drinks which should be avoided in acidity, because they can allow stomach acid to splash up into the esophagus, are:
The consumption of glutenous grains, like wheat and corn rice, should be avoided by people who are prone to acidity because such grains are acidifying and difficult to
Dairy products like whole milk, butter, sour cream, regular cottage cheese, milkshake, and ice cream are also acidifying foods; and should be avoided in acidity. Dairy products, like those prepared from cow’s milk, have a dysfunctional mineral correlation because of the presence of both calcium and phosphorus. The excessive phosphorus content in milk prevents calcium absorption in the small intestine.
Sugary/sweet foods prepared from refined sugar or white sugar including ‘convenience foods’ like pastries, muffins, candy, soda, white bread, and processed grains should also be avoided in acidity because refined sugar leads to the formation of acid in the body, thereby increasing the blood pH level. Hence, refined sugar affects the functioning of the body, which needs to work harder to neutralize the acidity.
Fresh meats and processed meats such as chicken, corned beef and turkey have a tendency to become acidic when metabolized because they contain high amounts of uric acid-forming compounds called ‘purines.’ These meats also lead to a build-up of uric acid in the body, which can haveanacidifying impact on blood pH levels. In addition, uric acid can also spread to tissues and joints, and cause gout and kidney stones.
Eggs can also cause acidity because of
Nuts are also believed to be mildly acid-forming food items, though they are a better source of protein than meat because they are comparatively less acidic when metabolized. However, it is advisable for people suffering from acidity to avoid or limit the consumption of nuts
Some fruits, particularly citrus fruits, are acidic because of their low pH levels, and should
Coffee should be avoided in acidity because almost all forms of coffee are considered highly acidic, as they involve the use of chemicals for processing. Coffee can worsen acidity because it requires the release of minerals from the body to be buffered when metabolized
Alcohol including high-phosphorus drinks like beer is also a highly acidifying because it deprives the body of alkalizing minerals like
Conclusion: The above-mentioned foods and drinks should be avoided in acidity, in order to decrease the amount of reflux from the stomach into the esophagus. Moreover, along with making dietary changes to fight acidity, it is also necessary to make some simple lifestyle changes in order to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the chances of serious health complications.