Acid Indigestion

Acid Indigestion

Indigestion or dyspepsia is a term used to describe one of a collection of symptoms including heartburn, abdominal pain, nausea and flatulence. It is primarily brought about by an over -production of stomach acid caused by eating too much or too quickly, or consuming foods that are too spicy, sweet or salty. Indigestion may also be stress-induced. Persistent or recurrent indigestion may be associated with a peptic ulcer, oesophagitis or gallstones. Self-help could include eating smaller meals in a relaxed environment, chewing food thoroughly and consuming liquid after (not with) food.

Without good digestion, the effect of eating good food is reduced. Most nutrients – fats, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins – are absorbed in the small intestine. The digestion of food is partly physical, performed by the teeth, which cut and chew food, (mixing it with saliva containing carbohydrate-digesting amylase) and by the stomach and peristalsis, which churn and mix the food with enzymes. The remaining part of food digestion is chemical, performed by the action of digestive agents produced in the mouth, stomach, pancreas, liver and small intestine. Some enzymes, particularly proteases (protein digesting) have other functions. Proteases are also involved in maintaining the health of the small intestine by keeping it free from parasites such as bacteria, yeast, protozoa and parasitic worms. From this it becomes apparent that a lack of digestive secretions, including proteases may increase a person’s risk of infections of the intestine. Of the many complaints that affect the digestive system, indigestion, peptic ulcers, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), irritable bowel disease (IBS) and constipation are some of the most common.

Digestive enzymes may be helpful in supplementing the body’s own digestive enzymes and assisting the breakdown of food, but will not replace good chewing! Ginger has been used for colic, flatulence and indigestion. Lactic bacteria (Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. Casei Rhamnosus and L. Casei Casei) may also be useful as a digestive aid by discouraging the presence of putrefactive and pathogenic bacteria in the gut.

Acid foods to cut down on:

eggs mayonnaise olives
fish/shellfish cranberries bacon
beef chicken beans
chickpeas lentils pasta
liver lamb prunes
Brussels sprouts asparagus noodles
brazil nuts walnuts herrings
mackerel rye oats
wheat rice plums


Common culprits for indigestion include:

  • raw salad vegetables such as onions, radishes, cucumber
  • too much liquid which dilutes digestive juices (but a glass of wine aids them)
  • hot, spicy food such as curries
  • cheese just before bedtime (its high fat content slows down digestion)
  • unripe fruits are high in pectin making them hard to digest
  • strong tea and coffee especially with meals (substitute with herbal teas such as mint, fennel or lemon verbena or mineral water)
  • fatty foods or fried foods can stimulate acid output in the gut
  • pickles, sauces and vinegar
  • wheat specifically in bread (substitute rice cakes, oatcakes, and rye bread or spelt bread)
  • refined foods, especially those containing sugar

Alkaline foods to increase:

almonds coconut milk
beans cabbage celery
lettuce avocado mushrooms
root vegetables bean sprouts tomatoes
apricots apples banana
beetroot raspberries pears
peaches melon tangerines/oranges
lemon grapes grapefruit
raisons figs cherries
berries rhubarb dried fruit
spinach potatoes carrots


Other foods good for acidity include: quince, pumpkin, millet and barley (in certain breads).

How you eat is important:

  • have several small meals rather than one or two large ones
  • chew food thoroughly
  • eat slowly and try to relax while eating
  • after you have eaten, take a herbal tea e.g. fennel, lemon verbena or mint
  • don’t eat a protein and a concentrated starch (white bread or potatoes) at the same meal
  • don’t eat a concentrated starch food and an acid fruit e.g. plums at the same meal
  • don’t eat a milk pudding or drink milk on top of a meat meal
  • don’t eat raw and cooked vegetables or raw and stewed fruit at the same meal

See that 80% of your food consists of alkaline-forming foods e.g. fruit, raw salad, vegetables, milk and dried fruit) and only 20% of acid-forming foods e.g. meat, fish, eggs, cheese, bread, concentrated starches and sugary foods).

General advice:

  • Avoid using salt and pepper in your cooking (use herbs instead) and on your food.
  • Avoid using white rice or flour. Include brown rice instead and have wholemeal brown bread.
  • Avoid adding sugar to your tea. If you get a sweet urge, take honey.
  • Increase your daily intake of raw vegetables.
  • Eat unprocessed cheese, as this is a more valuable source of protein than meat as well as containing lactic acid, which aids digestion and is rich in calcium.
  • Slow down, de-stress and relax more.
  • Stir fry is a good choice for people suffering from heartburn as the protein is already in smaller pieces, assisting the stomach with its function.

Avoid incompatible feeding:

  • don’t eat a protein and a concentrated starch or sugary food at the same meal
  • don’t eat a concentrated food e.g. white bread and potatoes and an acid fruit at the same meal
  • don’t eat a milk pudding or drink on top of a meat meal
  • don’t eat raw and cooked vegetables or raw and stewed fruit at the same meal




  • 2 slices of brown bread or toast (ideally rye or spelt bread or bread with millet and barley in it or if not granary, wholemeal or wheat germ) with non-dairy spread plus natural fruit jam or honey.
  • Porridge, muesli or shredded wheat with added almonds and Soya milk/semi skimmed/skimmed milk.
  • Fresh fruit salad with raisins, banana, apple, pears, orange, grapes and almonds with live yoghurt.


  • Small handful of almonds with dried apricots.
  • 2 oatcakes with non-dairy spread and goat’s cheese or cottage cheese.
  • 2 rice cakes with non-dairy spread and goat’s cheese or cottage cheese.
  • Glass of milk.
  • Banana or apple.
  • Fresh fruit salad with banana, apple, pears, orange, grapes and almonds with live yoghurt.
  • Almonds plus an apple.
  • Low fat vanilla ice cream.
  • Cooked apple with raisins.


  • Jacket potato with a vegetarian mixture plus salad.
  • Chicken with rice.
  • Make up a salad from the following and toss in a dressing of olive oil, lemon and herbs: grapefruit, strawberries, pineapple, pears, apples, green/black olives, melon balls, oranges, bean sprouts, avocado, mustard cress, cauliflower florets, fennel, shredded red cabbage, bean sprouts, mushrooms, peppers, cherry tomatoes, shredded white cabbage, chicory, endive, spinach leaves, rocket, watercress, radicchio, Chinese cabbage, grated carrot, grated beetroot, web/friesse/cos/round lettuce, celery, mange tout peas, tomatoes, seeds such as sunflower/pumpkin/cracked linseed/sesame (have with skinless chicken or turkey or tofu).
  • Vegetables to steam or stir-fry include: courgette, broccoli, cauliflower, French beans, cabbage, celery, peppers, carrots, mange tout, mushrooms, baby corn, asparagus (have with skinless chicken or turkey or tofu).
  • Make up a rice and barley broth with any vegetables you like (add diced chicken or turkey if desired). Flavour with herbs.
  • Avocado salad.
  • Avocado with cottage cheese.

Supplement recommendations:

  • Vitamin B complex daily
  • 1000mg of Vitamin C with bioflavonoids daily to improve the immune system
  • Probotics such as lactobacillus acidophilus/bifidus daily
  • Digestive enzyme (without betain hydrochloride if heartburn is present) with each main meal
  • Calcium/magnesium daily
  • Vitamin E 100mg daily
  • Peppermint oil capsule taken 30 minutes before eating
  • Vitamin A 2500IU daily
  • Herbs: Aloe Vera juice, goldenseal, slippery elm tea

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