With most of our food laced with artificial ingredients, preservatives, hormones and other chemical additives, indigestion is a word used very commonly nowadays. It refers to the feeling of uncomfortable fullness after a meal, burning sensation or pain in the upper abdomen, nausea and bloating — an unpleasant tightness in the stomach. Lack of exercise, and eating a lot of refined, processed and low fiber food only contributes more towards the digestive health problems. It can be a sign of overeating, choosing the wrong foods, or a more serious problem.
Common Reasons of Indigestion
Most indigestion is caused by:
- Irregular meal timing, or long gaps in between meals.
- Excessive intake of spicy foods, fast foods, fried foods, unhygienic foods or aerated beverages.
- Smoking and alcohol intake.
- Excessive intake of caffeine (coffee/tea).
- Peptic ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or duodenal ulcers.
- Less intake of fluids or water, less sleep, or stress.
Foods that Help in Indigestion
Fruits: Fruits have fiber to rescue you from indigestion. Fiber helps move food through the digestive system and automatically stimulates the digestive process. Additionally, fiber can also help prevent coronary heart disease, diabetes, colorectal cancer, and other diseases. Here are some fruits that can help:
Papaya: Papaya contains the enzyme papain which aids digestion and soothes the stomach. It promotes a healthy acidic enzyme environment by breaking down the proteins.
Banana: Being bland, smooth, easily digestible and slightly laxative, bananas are one of the best digestion-friendly food. Banana helps neutralize the over-acidity of the gastric juices and reduces the irritation of the ulcer by coating the lining of the stomach. Pectin, soluble fiber in banana, helps in constipation and diarrhea.
Other beneficial fruits include apple, pear and grapes.
Fluid: Drink plenty of water, coconut water or buttermilk. These are natural diluters and hence help in relieving acidic symptoms. Also, when you drink enough water, waste particles dissolved in water passes through the digestive tract smoothly, helping you have your normal daily bowel movement.
Coriander (dhania): Apart from being an excellent appetizer, coriander helps strengthen the stomach, relieve flatulence, and increase secretion of enzymes and digestive juices in the stomach. One or two teaspoons of coriander juice added to fresh buttermilk along with mint leaves and cumin (jeera), is highly beneficial in treating digestive disorders such as indigestion, nausea, feeling of burning and bloating. Coriander juice can be prepared by boiling dry seeds of coriander and straining the decoction after cooling.
Cardamom (elaichi): Cardamom is used chiefly in medicines to relieve flatulence and for strengthening digestion activities. Grounded cardamom mixed with ginger and coriander is an effective remedy for indigestion. Cardamom added in tea also helps in relieving headaches caused due to indigestion.
Ginger: Ginger root or ginger oil often added in numerous food preparations as it helps in improving digestion. It is one of the best remedy for stomach upset, stomach ache, indigestion, dyspepsia and flatulence.
Cumin (jeera): Soaking cumin seeds (jeera) in water overnight and consuming the water is beneficial while having acidity. It also helps in relieving bloated feeling.
Carom (ajwain): Take 1/2 teaspoon of carom (ajwain) and add 2 pinch of rock salt. Chew it and then gulp it with water. This helps instantly in relieving the symptoms of stomach aches and stomach upsets.
Lemon: Lemon juice also aids the digestion process. Lemon juice in water (not in warm water) with honey is a good remedy if you are suffering from indigestion and burning. You can also add a few lemon drops on your dish to aid digestion.
Mint leaves (pudina): Chewing on these leaves is also beneficial for any stomach problems. Menthol, a volatile substance contained in the essential oil of mint, has a direct antispasmodic effect on the smooth muscle of the digestive tract. The ability to calm cramping stomach muscles makes it a superb treatment for reliving symptoms of indigestion, heartburn, stomachache and irritable bowel syndrome. It also helps the muscles around the intestines to relax thereby promoting less gas production and better overall digestion.
Basil leaves (tulsi): Basil essential oil is also used as a digestive tonic. It is used for treating indigestion, constipation, stomach cramps and flatulence as it has carminative properties. It provides immediate relief from the gas in your stomach and intestines.
Tips to Prevent Heartburn and Indigestion
Here are a few tips to prevent the problem of heartburn and indigestion:
Eat small and frequent meals. If the stomach is empty for a longer period, the acid starts acting on the stomach walls, causing burning sensation. A prolonged effect may lead to stomach ulcers and may cause them to bleed. Hence eating a small snack every two to three hours helps in getting rid of the excess acid.
Avoid excessive intake of fast foods, fried items and very spicy food, as well as aerated beverages, tea and coffee. All these items provoke an increased acid response, hence causing flatulence as well as acidity. This might also lead to stomach ache and over all indigestion.
Chew your food thoroughly and avoid overeating. The digestion of carbohydrate actually begins in your mouth (thanks to an enzyme produced by your saliva), and then continues in your small intestine.
Refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol. They slow down your metabolism and lead to malnutrition, causing stress on the body. Additionally, the nicotine content of cigarettes leads to increased acid production.
Take a good night sleep and give good rest to your mind and body. Use relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga. Don't let stress take over you as stress is the key of unnumbered health problems and malnutrition.