Festivities and food are quite synonymous to the Indian population. Indulging in mouth-watering delicacies is the perfect excuse we give for round-the-year festive celebrations. We equate love and affection in forcefully feeding our children, family and friends as we, Indians, assume that binge-eating during festivities is okay. However, we fail to realize that compromising on health due to such overindulgence is not good for our health.
Acidity, bloating and an upset stomach are the most frequently encountered symptoms during the festive season. Excessive binging on junk foods and eating wrong food combinations are the main triggers of acid reflux.
A survey conducted by the National Heartburn Alliance (NHBA) revealed that 92% of frequent heartburn sufferers report food as the primary cause of their digestive discomfort.
What happens to our gastrointestinal system when we overeat during the festival season?
The feeling of a burning sensation in the epigastric area is quite common due to binge-eating during festivals. When we stuff our stomach, we put more pressure on our oesophagal sphincter – a tube that lets food pass into the stomach and then closes to block food from coming back up. The extra pressure does not allow the digested food to move from its place. When the pressure increases too much, acids and foods push back, causing heartburn. You can best prevent acid reflux by not overfilling your stomach with large meal portions at a time and giving your stomach enough space to pulverise the food.
Foods that can cause acid reflux or heartburn
Several types of food can cause/trigger acid reflux and heartburn. You should pay close attention to how you feel after eating certain foods. The worst triggers are the ones that are high in fat, salt or spice such as:
- Fried food
- Fast food
- Potato chips and other processed snacks
- Chilli powder and pepper (white, black, cayenne)
- Fatty meats such as bacon and sausage
Other foods that can cause the same problem include:
- Tomato-based sauces
- Citrus fruits
- Carbonated beverages
Foods that may help curb your acidity symptoms
Acid reflux symptoms may result due to stomach acid touching the oesophagus, causing irritation and pain. If you have an excessive level of stomach acid in your body, you can include certain food items into your diet to manage acid reflux symptoms.
High fibre foods
- Whole grains: Oatmeal, couscous and brown rice
- Root vegetables: Sweet potato, carrot and beet
- Green vegetables: Broccoli and green beans
- Broth-based soups
- Herbal tea
What can you do to relieve heartburn/acidity post-festival overindulgence?
Below mentioned are a few tips to prevent acidity during the festival time:
- Eat your meals on time
- Avoid too long or too short intervals between meals
- Try not to start the day with tea/coffee
- Reduce intake of fizzy drinks, as they are extremely acidic
- Avoid excess alcohol intake
If you experience acid reflux or heartburn after eating certain foods, take steps to avoid them.
Medication for dousing acidity
A lot of people resolve their symptoms through lifestyle changes while some may need medications to prevent/treat acid reflux and heartburn. Your doctor may suggest medications that calm down the acid reflux, such as:
- Antacids that neutralize stomach acids: They provide quick relief but do not heal an inflamed oesophagus damaged by stomach acid, e.g., Calcium carbonate.
- H2-receptor blockers that reduce acid production: They do not act as quickly as antacids but provide longer relief and may decrease acid production from the stomach for up to 12 hours, e.g., Famotidine or Cimetidine.
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that block acid production and heal the oesophagus: They are stronger acid blockers than H2-receptor blockers and provide time for damaged oesophagal tissue to heal, e.g., Omeprazole, Lansoprazole, Pantoprazole and Esomeprazole.
For serious acid reflux, proton pump inhibitors are the most effective treatment. Among PPIs, Omeprazole has shown the highest published evidence regarding its safety profile. All PPIs show similar efficacy. However, for the past 25 years, Omeprazole has remained a valuable treatment for clinicians owing to its efficacy and safety in acid reflux and heartburn and remains the most used PPI globally with more than 40% prescription share worldwide.
Festivities should preserve the spirit of sharing, giving, fun and joy. We need to understand that overindulgence in food is definitely not the true essence of our festivals but is most certainly the path that attracts other problems to our lives. So, when acidity strikes post the festival binge, adopting home remedies, lifestyle changes and medications may provide relief. If you still experience acidity/heartburn almost every other day, consult your doctor. In some cases, they might suggest medication or other treatments.
Know more about Omeprazole
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.