Felt heavy after stuffing yourself with samosas, sweets, masaledar curries at the recent bash?
Don't rush to pop a pill when the solution is right in your kitchen. Most common digestive problems are caused by food — either by eating too much or too little or at the wrong time. Fortunately, these can be rectified by watching what you eat. Understanding your body mechanism and bringing a few changes to your dietary patterns is enough to help you get back on your feet again after an attack of acidity or gastritis. Here's how to cure some common problems caused by food… with food.
What: It's that familiar feeling of heartburn, vomiting, coughing, stomach pain and bloating which makes you run for an antacid.
Acidity is caused by an imbalance between the acid secreting mechanism of the stomach and the protective mechanisms that ensure their safety. It results when there is excess production of acid which may enter the lower part of the oesophagus (Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux).
Avoid: Tur dal, channa dal, raw vegetables, cabbage, kidney beans (rajma), white bread, bakery products, refined flour, noodles, poha, ragi, spinach, peanuts, dry coconut, canned foods and stuff containing monosodium glutamate, caffeine and alcohol. All these cause acidity or aggravate it. Don't take too hot or too cold meals.
Combat with: Fresh fruits or vegetables, cumin, ajwain. Have small and frequent meals. Increase your chewing time so that food masticates well in the mouth. Drink lots of water (but don't gulp it, sip it). Have few drops of lemon or jal jeera, they help increase saliva production.
What: Occurs primarily because bowel movement is restricted because of weak colon muscles. Defecation may be very painful and in severe cases, can lead to symptoms of bowel obstruction. Lack of fluid and fibre, a sedentary lifestyle, stress, side effects of medication, even pregnancy can cause constipation.
Avoid: Alcohol, refined, starchy and sugary foods
Combat with: Plenty of water, at least 1.5 to 2 litres a day. Have food high in fibre and fluid — banana, raw banana, lotus stem, beans, gavar), and seasonal fruits, especially skinny ones like guava, pear, plum and apple.
What: Most common digestive disorder caused by reflux — the sphincter muscles connecting the oesophagus to the stomach fails to close. So the acid in the stomach regurgitates. You might feel angina pain or even bloating often leading people to mistake it as symptoms leading to heart attack. Avoid: Large, late meals, fatty food, tobacco, caffeine in all forms, tomato based goodies — chips, sauces and dips. Try not eating two hours before bedtime. Also don't bend or lie down immediately after a meal. Alcohol too should be avoided, but a glass of wine is ok.
Combat with: Small and frequent meals, half a cup of cold milk before bedtime, drinks of tarragon, dill, mint, fennel and cumin.
What: Inflammation of the stomach lining, signalling indigestion. Gastritis could be acute (sudden), a result of faulty lifestyle or stress.
Or it could be chronic (longterm), aggravated by medicines or age. The symptoms are similar to that of acidity.
Avoid: Spicy food, chocolates, aerated beverages, fatty foods, tomato-based products and alcohol
Combat with: Bland food, vegetables that have high water content such as bottle gourd (dudhi), long parwal, tinda, pumpkin, water melon and papaya. Just sauté them or cook in pressure cooker without too much oil or spices.
What: If breaking wind at inopportune moments, bloating and burping is a constant embarrassment for you, blame it on acidity, indigestion and even irritable bowel syndrome. Sometimes intolerance of milk can also lead to flatulence.
Avoid: Lentils and legumes, especially if they are not soaked for eight hours or more. Juicy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts. Also stop taking carbonated drinks, chewing gum, bran and mava sweets.
Combat with: High fibre foods that work as laxative — skinny fruits, lotus stem, raw banana and herbs such as rosemary, fennel, tarragon, thyme tea and ginger.
What: An inflammatory bowel disease where ulcers bleed in the colon and rectum.
Avoid: Foods high in insoluble fibre — bran, whole grain, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, potato skin, skinny fruits. Ironically, all these are very healthy for the system especially if you are diabetic, but bad for colitis patients. Also skip fats, oil, gas inducing stuff like beans, and dairy products.
Combat with: Sautéed and baked vegetables, baked veggies, decaffeinated coffee, soya milk.
(Dr Nupur Krishnan is director,Biologics Nutrition Clinic,Kandivli East).
— CO-ORDINATED BY LEKHA MENON