Indigestion also called dyspepsia or an upset stomach is a condition of impaired digestion. It is not a disease but a group of symptoms that usually occur together, which include pain, a burning feeling, or discomfort in your upper abdomen; feeling full too soon while eating, and feeling uncomfortably full after eating.
Although indigestion is common, each person may experience different symptoms of indigestion. It is your eating habits and your lifestyle that triggers indigestion, however, it is not very difficult to avoid or manage indigestion. All you have to do is just follow a few simple daily life habits to keep indigestion away.
Indigestion and Gas: What to Do Besides Eating Medicines?
1. Check on what you eat.
It is very important to have a check on the amount of and quality of food you eat. Not everything or all types of food suit everyone. You should have an idea of foods that trigger indigestion and gastric build-up in your body.
Too much intake of spicy, salty, and processed foods can affect your esophagus (the tube connecting your mouth and stomach) and lead to inflammation. This can further cause indigestion and discomfort.
If you are lactose intolerant (an inability to fully digest sugar (lactose) in dairy products), you should avoid milk and dairy products like cow's milk, goat's milk, buffalo milk, all types of cheese, butter, and yogurt.
If you are gluten intolerant, you can have symptoms such as gassiness, abdominal pain, or diarrhea. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Eating wheat-based foods, barley or rye can lead to uneasiness and indigestion.
Avoid eating excessively. Ideally, you should eat small amounts of food, in multiple frequencies. Eating 5-6 small meals a day is less work for your digestive system and easy and convenient for you as well.
Make sure that your daily diet contains green leafy vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, etc., and fresh fruits like banana, apple, etc.
Eat a fiber-rich diet like oats, barley (only if you are not gluten intolerant) as these provide roughage (fiber) to your stool content and help in the easy passage. Fiber plays a major role in keeping your digestive tract flowing, thus, promoting soft and regular bowel movements.
2. Exercise daily.
Daily exercise is quite beneficial for indigestion sufferers. It is to use up the energy you consume and what better than exercising daily. Mild to moderate exercises daily like walking, freehand workouts, yoga and cycling get your gut (digestive tract) moving.
Increased motility of your intestine helps digest food better and faster. Also, exercise increases the flow of the gastric juices (produced by your gastric glands) which further aids in better digestion.
Never go to sleep or rest immediately after eating a meal. Take a brisk walk to help the food move down from your stomach to your intestine. Lying down makes it difficult to push down the food, and may result in indigestion.
Exercises are also a great way to alleviate other symptoms associated with indigestion like GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), which occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into your esophagus.
3. Make water your body’s best friend!
Always make it a habit to drink plenty of liquids. When you wake up in the morning, drink at least half a liter of plain, fresh water. Water helps to expand the stomach and make more space for food and gastric contents to mix up well.
Also, water gets to mix with the food you eat to make the churning process smooth inside your stomach. Water dilutes the gastric juices of your stomach and reduces acidity by increasing the pH level.
pH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity of an aqueous solution. The pH of your stomach is critical for the digestion of your food. An imbalance in your stomach pH can alter the normal functioning of your stomach, thus, resulting in indigestion.
4. Be mindful of when and how much you eat.
Today’s busy and sedentary lifestyle forces people to miss their breakfast. It might usually happen that you run off to work, skip breakfast, have something minimum for lunch and end up having a heavy dinner.
Know that the timing of your eating is synchronized with different organs and tissues that are related to digestion, absorption, and metabolism (the chemical reactions in your body's cells that change food into energy). A delay or a change in timing from the usual hampers your body’s clock and the metabolism cycle, resulting in indigestion and gastric disorders. It can put your body out of shape and cause further problems in the digestion process.
A regular eating schedule will improve your digestive health. Eating meals and snacks at set times every day is important to avoid frequent indigestion.
It is recommended to eat your breakfast within one hour of waking up; maintaining a gap of not more than 4 hours between breakfast and lunch and eat your last meal at least three hours before bedtime.
The ideal way of consuming food is to eat a heavy breakfast, followed by a mid-sized portion lunch and a very light dinner. This gives enough time for your body to digest food and also provides your body with sufficient energy to carry work throughout the day.
5. Adopt other healthy habits.
Your body sustains a lot of damage due to unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking, and staying up late at night, thus, resulting in many health issues, including indigestion and gastritis.
Staying up till late at night causes an over secretion of gastric juices and increases metabolic activities. In the absence of food, gastric juices cause a lot of damage to the inner lining of your stomach (also called mucosa) by eroding it, which results in indigestion and stomach ulcers (sores in the lining of your stomach).
Similarly, when you smoke or chew tobacco, the nicotine from tobacco forces stomach acid and juices to back up (reflux) into your esophagus, causing indigestion.
Excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeinated drinks can irritate your stomach lining, causing GERD and indigestion.
In order to avoid indigestion and other gastric troubles, due to lifestyle habits, it is imperative to follow your body’s natural biological rhythm. Biological rhythms are the continuous cycle of changes in your body’s chemicals or functions. It is like a “master clock” that coordinates all processes in your body, including digestion, immune responses, and sleep.
It is advisable to sleep on time and follow a regular sleep schedule. Avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated beverages; limit or quit smoking and manage your daily stress better.
These are just a few quick and healthy points to remember along with medications that the doctor prescribes you. Keep control of what and how much you eat, stay active and stress-free. This is the best way to keep your stomach happy.
Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.