Indigestion can strike your stomach for a number of reasons. It is characterised by that bloated, gassy, uncomfortable feeling that often hits after a big meal. The underlying reasons for it can be a number of conditions — starting with conditions such as peptic ulcer disease or gastritis, or behavioural triggers like acute alcohol drinking or eating too much too quickly.
Read on for what might be behind your indigestion and how to prevent it altogether.
Symptoms of indigestion aren’t one-size-fits-all
1. After a meal, you might feel gassy, while others might battle heartburn. So, what’s behind these painful physical feelings? “One of the most common culprits of indigestion is the food you eat. Fatty or greasy foods; coffee and carbonated beverages; spicy or acidic foods, such as sauces, alcohol, particularly red wine, can be huge culprits,” Dr Anupam Dey, a Kolkata-based dietician says.
2. Your mealtime behaviours can also cause indigestion. “It could be that you’re eating too fast, too much, drinking from a straw, or talking too much while you’re eating. All of these eating habits can lead you to take in a lot of air as you’re eating, which causes gas to build up in your stomach,” Dr Dey says. Mindlessly munching — for example, spending your mealtime more focused on the TV than on your plate — and eating too close to bedtime also make the list.
3. Indigestion can also be caused by underlying medical conditions such as ulcers, celiac disease, gallstones, intestinal blockage, or stomach cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic. There are also some cases of indigestion that have no obvious cause at all. This may be called functional or non-ulcer dyspepsia, while some doctors call this a depressed gut. It can actually be anxiety-related.
How can you prevent indigestion before it strikes?
1. One of the simplest ways to handle indigestion is the same solution to just about any problem: Prevent it from happening in the first place. A few little life adjustments can go a long way, especially the following expert-recommended fixes.
2. Pay attention when foods provoke your body. “The first thing is to know your triggers and try to avoid them to begin with. In other words, if you know wolfing down a chicken roll makes you feel physical pain, maybe go for something a little lighter. The first line of defence is not to worry about the remedy but figure out how to avoid it altogether,” Dr Dey says.
3. Start logging what you eat and drink, and how these items make you feel. “A food journal can help you keep track of what items or behaviours seem to give your body the most grief. Be detailed about how you feel after every meal — nothing that you jot down is too silly — and then, after a week or so, start looking for patterns.,” Dr Dey says.
4. Eat slowly and chew your food carefully. Slow and steady wins the race — or, at the very least, helps minimise the air you take in while eating, thereby reducing bloating. And if you’re susceptible to indigestion, eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day rather than focusing on a few big ones.
5. Take care of your body and mind. Finally, while research on the mind-gut connection is still emerging, we do know that when we get anxious, we get stomachaches. If indigestion is caused by a case of functional dyspepsia, anxiety treatments like yoga, mindfulness, and exercise have been shown to help.
How to relieve indigestion once it hits?
Fortunately, there are a few easy things you can do to ease symptoms.
1. Brew a cup of peppermint or ginger tea
2. Moving your body can help
3. Medications can also ease the symptoms of indigestion