Stomach health tips are bound to be predictable. Everyone seems to be talking health and calories these days. Advice abounds in terms of eating dos and don’ts. What we bring to you in this feature is stomach health tips and the science behind it.
We subject our stomach to a lot on a daily basis. Over time, we get used to living with acidity, indigestion and a constant bloated feeling. But we still continue on our merry consumption. Continued acidity can lead to ulcers and more serious complications. Besides direct harm to the stomach, reckless devouring of unhealthy food also leads to a host of other diseases including cancer. Once a chronic condition sets in, one has to live with a lot of food restrictions. Why not start eating healthy when one still has the choice? Here’s our list of a handful of stomach health tips:
1. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper: There can be no better advice for stomach health. Morning is the time we need energy the most. We have not had anything to eat for many hours and the entire day lies ahead. Most of us do the exact opposite. Our calorie intake is heavily tilted towards dinner; when we require calories the least.
2. Small and frequent meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner should not be the only meals of the day. Traditionally, we view these as occasions to stuff ourselves like there is no tomorrow. Most of us consume more than the stomach can handle at once. As a result, we do not get the complete benefit of the food and it makes us lethargic. Smaller and more frequent meals are highly recommended for stomach health.
3. Simple meals over buffets: Food is digested by enzymes in the stomach in an acidic environment. To digest different kinds of food (protein, carbs), different concentrations of enzymes and levels of acidity are required. The customary lunch containing at least four to five different items is impossible to digest effectively. It is ironic that we pay premiums for ‘all-you-can-eat’ lunches and buffets when all you can eat is not all you can use. Read more about wrong food combinations in this feature.
4. Water: Yes, plain water – no calories, no side effects. Keep a bottle handy at work and sip at regular intervals. Not only does water aid digestion, it also relieves acidity simply by diluting stomach acid. But do not drink cold water after meals, it makes digestion difficult. Have warm water instead.
5. Eat slowly: So you never listened to your Mom. And you are always pressed for time. But you should know that along with gobbling your food down fast, you are also ingesting large portions of air. This causes belching and a feeling of being bloated. Also remember to chew your food thoroughly.
6. Avoid acidity triggers: Major stomach illnesses include ulcers and stomach cancer. Though certain food items are considered risk factors, the causes of stomach cancer are largely unknown. What is in our hands besides eating healthy; is avoiding acidity. Identify food items that trigger acidity and stop or reduce their intake.
7. Reduce smoking and drinking: There is no good time for smoking. It causes acidity and makes digestion difficult by decreasing the oxygen carried in blood. Read our 8 reasons to quit smoking if you need motivation. Alcohol induces acid production and together with the various asides you eat to go with the booze, a dangerous concoction is formed in the stomach the effects of which last for many hours. It is best to have good meal before alcohol.
8. Mind the Milk: A large percentage of population is lactose intolerant, i.e. they cannot digest lactose found in milk and milk products. While it is not a serious illness, it does cause diarrhea, bloating and nausea. Even in people who are tolerant, milk is difficult to digest and should be had alone. Having it with other food items makes it even more difficult to digest.
9. Do not mix fruits with other food: Fruits are healthy and easy to digest only if they are had alone. This is because fruits directly hit the intestine and enter the blood quickly. If they are consumed with other food items like milk and curd, their passage to the intestine is slowed down and they start rotting in the stomach.
10. Do not depend on medicines: We do have a lot of options in terms of medicines used to treat stomach problems. While it is great to have options, medicines should only be used when symptoms are severe or caused by another condition or medication. People tend to develop a psychological dependence on medicine and the underlying cause of acidity and dietary imbalances go unaddressed.
– Punit Pania