Health Topics

Healthy Living

February 2011
Spice without the Burn!
How to eat spicy food without heartburn
-Prapti Parikh
We all love our food with a little spice. However, many of us suffer from heartburn after eating such food. Heartburn can occur for a number of reasons which include what you eat, some medications you may take, lifestyle habits you have. Being aware of what the triggers can be will help you control the heartburn.

Heartburn or GERD (Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease) is a disease in which acid from the stomach flows back into the oesophagus. It can cause irritation and even damage to the lining of the oesophagus.

Some degree of acid reflux is normal, and occurs after one has had meals. Frequent symptoms, such as heartburn and regurgitation, however, are an indication of a potential tissue injury from longer and more frequent acid exposure.

Healthy Eating
The chances of heartburn occurring can increase because of our lifestyle habits -- what we do and how we do it.Heartburn symptoms can often be relieved if sufferers make a few lifestyle changes.

To get rid of heartburn, lifestyle changes, especially to the diet can work wonders.
  • There are certain foods that can worsen heartburn symptoms. Of course, the best thing is to avoid foods which cause acid reflux:tomato products, citrus juices, onions, spicy, fried, fatty foods - even chocolate. For those who experience daily heartburn or severe chest pain, seeking professional advice is advisable.
  • Take an over-the-counter acid-reducing medicine at least an hour before you plan to eat spicy foods.Medicines work as they are absorbed into your bloodstream, then moving on to the cells of the stomach, where they turn off the acid-producing mechanism. Stomach irritation or heartburn are often due to a combination of irritants, one of which is stomach acid. By decreasing the amount of acid the stomach produces, a person is often able to tolerate spicy foods without heartburn symptoms.
  • Keep a roll of antacids in your pocket. Chew a few antacids both at the beginning and end of your meal. This will neutralise at least some of the acid your body produces. Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal may also be helpful.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Avoid constipation. Switch from white flour to whole grains, etc. Make sure you consume a good amount of fibre – wheat germ, brown rice, oatmeal, fruit, salad etc. Too much fibre may cause loose stools, so you have to monitor your individual intake accordingly.Medically,approximately 25 gm of fibre a day is enough to help maintain your digestive system.
  • Avoid overeating. Acid reflux is often a matter of pressure. If you feel your stomach so full you're about to burst out, it is much easier for stomach acid to move upwards. Eat slowly and allow your stomach to empty a little along the way.
  • Don't eat late at night. Acid reflux is partly a matter of gravity. When you are upright, it is more difficult for acid stomach contents to splash upwards into the oesophagus.Lying down allows fluids to flow into the oesophagus, or even as far back as the mouth or throat. Remain seated (or standing) for at least two hours after a meal to minimise the reflux. Eat less and give yourself at least three hours after your last meal before you sleep.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol with your spicy meal. Alcohol intake is another source of stomach irritation.
If Heartburn is severe
  • Dissolve 1 tsp.baking soda in 8 oz. cup of warm water and sip for immediate relief of acid reflux.
  • Apple cider vinegar is a traditional remedy to cure various digestive disorders.
  • Mix 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar with 12 ounces of warm water,and drink in the morning on an empty stomach.
  • Add a little honey,if you find the taste too strong.
  • Soak about seven to eight fenugreek seeds in some water overnight and have them in the morning with a glass of lukewarm water. You can add a few drops of lemon juice for taste.

Don't Panic!
Cutting out a few foods and replacing them with some others may be all that you need to stop the recurrence of heartburn and indigestion.Anyone can have occasional heartburn,especially after eating a spicy meal
Prapti Praikh is Lifestyle Counsellor at Apollo Life, Ahmedabad.