Indigestion can become serious

People normally overeat or eat the wrong food during some festive days like Diwali and as a consequence suffer from indigestion. Indigestion includes any kind of disturbance in the digestive system including belching, gas, abdominal distension, nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhoea.

Sometimes, owing to indigestion, stomach acid comes up to the mouth to effect hoarseness of the voice and pain in the chest, usually known as heartburn. Some people with indigestion experience water brash where saliva flows like water, accompanied by excess belching, flatulence or hiccups.

Mild indigestion occurs after a heavy meal, particularly if hot and spicy or rich foods are eaten. Indigestion is a symptom of illness or the result of overeating. Dyspepsia is the term for minor digestive upsets that often occur after heavy meals when no other disease is present.

Some causes

Certain foods such as cucumber, pickled onions, spicy foods such as curry, rich foods with cream or butter, unripe fruits, uncooked meat and fried foods may cause indigestion. For some people, indigestion is caused by simply overeating, eating under emotional stress or gulping down food without chewing it well.

You must eat foods that are easily digested such as salads, chicken, fish, rice, wholemeal bread, lightly cooked greens and reduce the intake of hot and spicy foods. It is advisable to avoid alcohol before meals and if you are keen to have a drink, you may drink sparingly during meal. It must be understood that during Diwali digestive problems are caused by overeating a variety of sweet, spicy, bitter and sour foods.

Some remedies

Papaya enzyme tablet, slippery elm powder, acidophilus products such as yoghurt, diluted apple cider vinegar or peppermint leaves help improve digestion.

It is good to go for a walk after a few hours of eating but never undertake exercise or lie down immediately after a meal as this may hinder digestion. Treatment for indigestion depends on the cause of indigestion and for most people a dose of antacid (bicarbonate of soda or magnesium trisilicate) brings quick relief.

If you have an upset stomach, it is advisable to abstain from food and drink only raw vegetable juice, follow this with some natural yoghurt until the feeling of discomfort has vanished and then try a little soup and single items of food, little and often.

People ailing from diabetics should avoid eating sweet foods because they have to keep their blood sugar level at a healthy level. It is advisable to avoid all types of sugar, jam, honey, lollies, chocolate, muesli bars, sweetened fruit, ice cream, cakes, puddings, sweet drinks and juice.

Merely swallowing many types of medicines and herbs without knowing the cause is not good treatment and if indigestion persists causing pain and discomfort, you must see your doctor because some serious condition may be underlying what appears to be a mild disorder.

Thilliar Varnakulasingham has been a regular Indian Newslink columnist. He is versatile on several aspects of health and wellbeing. He lives in Auckland. The above article appeared in our October 15, 2003 Diwali Special.

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