People who eat spicy and fried food take such medications regularly for quick relief from issues like heartburn, acid reflux, excessive burping and stomach discomfort.

One of the most common forms of  self-medication include popping an antacid or dissolving a sachet in water after a rich and  indulgent meal. People who eat spicy and fried  food take such medications regularly for quick relief from issues like heartburn, acid reflux, excessive burping  and stomach discomfort. However, frequent consumption of such “over the counter relief agents” is not a good idea, since most of them contain a compound called Aluminium hydroxide. This can cause leaching out of calcium, constipation, fatigue, loss of appetite, drowsiness etc. It can also reduce level of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This is also the same reason why aluminium cookware should be avoided. Symptoms like heartburn, acid reflux and burping are often associated with hyper acidity, whereas one may be suffering from low stomach acid levels. Most of the times, these antacids are consumed without realizing if the stomach acid is more(hyperacidity) or there’s a lack of it. In fact, regular intake of antacids can actually lower the stomach acid levels over time thereby slowing down digestion.

Now you must be wondering that if the symptoms for both excess and low stomach acid levels are similar, how does one figure out what malady one has. A quick and easy way to solve this dilemma is the “lemon juice test”. Take 1 tablespoon of pure lemon juice and gulp it. If your stomach pain is relieved, it implies you had low stomach acid levels. And if your stomach ache/ symptoms get worse, it means you have hyperacidity. The remedial measures vary for both situations.

If you discover that you have excess stomach acid :

-          Include aloe vera gel/ juice can be taken with water. Aloe vera is one the best known alkalizing plants and can neutralize the excess stomach acid.

-          Roasted jeera is commonly found in almost all indian kitchen as a garnish for curd/ raita. Take ½ teaspoon of this and gulp it down with water. Bhuna jeera is cooling for the gut and that’s the reason all your digestive churans and golis have roasted jeera as the central element.

-          Suck/ chew on clove and swallow your saliva. Clove stimulates production of saliva which is alkaline and can soothe the food pipe and stomach lining when ingested.

-          ½ teaspoon Baking soda added to 1 cup water can offer the same kind of instant relief that the antacid pill does. In fact, you may be surprised to know that the main active ingredient for many antacids is Sodium bicarbonate or baking soda.

-          Licorice/ Mulethi (about a 1 inch piece of the stem) can be chewed/ sucked for 5-10 minutes and then spit.

And if you have lack of stomach acid :

- Start chewing your foods well. Take enough time and count chewing a morsel atleast 32 times.

- Take a teaspoon/ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in 1 cup water. This can offer prompt relief.

- Include ginger in your meals. As ginger water, in tea, as pickled ginger or add it to vegetables while cooking.

- Include good quality salt like himalyan pink salt, rock salt instead of the regular table salt. Salt is Sodium chloride and the acid in your stomach is hydrochloric acid. Chloride from salt can help fix low level of hydrochloric acid in stomach.

- Include probiotics and fermented foods. The can help regulate the stomach acid to adequate level. You may opt for probiotic capsules/ sachets or include fermented foods like home made pickles, kanji, idli, dosa etc as part of your meals.

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Antacid Mansi Chaudhary


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