Acidity has made regular appearances in my life for several years, leaving aside the time I was pregnant. And when I say acidity, I don’t mean heartburn or the usual queasy feeling. Mine is more about internal heat coupled with a nauseatingly painful headache; my only escape is to pop antacids or painkillers and sleep right through it.
Now before you get all judgmental about my diet, let me state my case. I cannot tolerate spice so don’t touch it, I turned vegetarian in 2003, I don’t drink coffee, I mostly eat at home, I avoid extreme heat or hunger, I’m not overweight by any scale, and I earnestly start my day with two glasses of warm water and an apple. Phew! I really am doing my part here.
Like any good Web-junkie, I've devoured blogs and health websites, tried many eastern, western, natural and sure-fix remedies but nothing fundamentally life-changing. I feel “educated” about my little problem and yet deep down I know that with work, home, and a toddler to manage, there will be crazy days when I skip meals, and the dreadful headache will make its Murphy-inspired appearance!
This was my helpless state of mind till a few weeks ago.
Which brings me to my pause. One evening after putting my son to sleep, I served myself some food, and for no particular reason decided to just pause. As I stared at the food, my mind wandered to all the stuff I have been working on lately, and out of nowhere this unplanned pause invited me to think a little more deeply about food. I started by asking myself some probing questions - Why does the rest of my life including my work, my blog, and my family get the best of my mind - where clarity precedes answers - and yet something like acidity that impacts my health does not get the same treatment?
I let this question stay with me, did nothing unusual. A few days later I was glancing through yet another health e-book that my Mom had printed when I paused again and reminded myself - don’t search for a solution, just focus on finding something that explains my stomach’s behavior.
And there it was. Two sentences.
The stomach will keep mixing the food (with acid) till the correct pH that is required for digestion is reached. Only then will the pyloric valve open to start the next stage of digestion.
I don’t remember this being emphasized in Biology class neither did this show up in the “top-10 ways to cure everything” articles.
What the stomach is asking of me is rather simple. Since fruits need less acid, and less time to digest, they should be emptied out first, yet if I eat fruits with cereal and with dairy, I am just gong to let the whole mixture churn inside, with much more acid, taking more time, wasting more energy, and feeling a lot worse after digestion.
Here’s my way of never-forgetting this principle - A healthy diet is not only about what I eat, but how I load the cycle.
Imagine that your stomach is a washing machine. Just like each category of clothing needs a separate cycle to ensure minimum wear and tear, so does each category of food. The broad types of cycles could be - Fruits, Raw veggies, Cooked veggies with Grains (not ideal but practical), Dairy, Meat, and Processed food. Each of these needs different times and different acid levels to digest, so for maximum benefit and least toxicity one must let the stomach digest these in different cycles as far as possible.
Acid is corrosive in it’s inherent nature. Nature designed it to kill germs. Even if I did not suffer from acidity problems, I would still be punishing my system and ageing my body by mixing food categories. To make matters worse, most cuisines and restaurants completely ignore this principle.
The road ahead is not looking easy - for starters, I’m gonna have to skip desert when we eat out, or only eat desert. My mind is already jumping ahead and naming folks who will label this as ‘yet another quirk’ of mine, though they won’t be so polite. Ouch! I think I’ll visualize a heavy laundry cycle with my beloved blue kurta in tatters. This visual should help me stick to my resolve.
Honestly in all seriousness, it has been a few weeks since I am following this regime, and I’m feeling so good internally that I cannot deny its truth. For years “eating healthy” misled me into believing that I had done my bit to reduce acidity. Finally, I paused to think about what happens after I eat.
Your turn to pause.
Thank you for reading all the way to the end. If I have inspired you to try this out, do take a quick look at a few more tips that mix well with this approach.