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How to avoid hernia hassles

Your food pipe (esophagus) takes food from the mouth to the stomach and passes through diaphragm. Hiatus hernia occurs when the upper portion of the stomach outpouches through the diaphragm and allows acid to escape into the food pipe causing heartburn...

health and fitness Updated: Mar 02, 2012 18:30 IST
Dr Anjali Mukerjee

Your food pipe (esophagus) takes food from the mouth to the stomach and passes through diaphragm. Hiatus hernia occurs when the upper portion of the stomach outpouches through the diaphragm and allows acid to escape into the food pipe causing heartburn, reflux of food and indigestion specially when a person is lying down.



Obesity is one of the major causes of hiatal hernia. An abdominal injury can also damage or tear the diaphragm and lead to an outpouching of the abdomen in the chest cavity. Physical strain or pressure on the stomach can also play a role in causing hiatal hernia, which is also seen in pregnant women.



Hiatal hernia is mostly seen in obese individuals, so weight reduction is one way to combat it. Cut down on the size of your meals, instead consume smaller meals frequently. Avoid eating heavy meals that are high in calories and take longer to digest.



PepperSpicy and acidic foods are known to trigger heartburn and increase the chances of reflux. Such foods are better kept out of the diet. Avoid chillies, chilli powder, pepper, garam masala and other spices that add to pungency in food. Carbonated beverages, citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, green apples, grapefruit, etc need to be eliminated from the diet.



The method of cooking food is also important. Boiling, steaming, sautéing, grilling food is a better than deep frying. Use natural herbs and condiments rather than spices.



Chewing the food well also helps in reducing the reflux symptoms. Dietary fibre prove to have a positive effect over hiatal hernia. Consumption of alcohol, caffeine containing foods, smoking, needs to be strictly avoided.



Extremely hot or cold food can also cause discomfort. Many people have reported relief from symptoms after drinking aloe vera juice( ½ a cup daily) and going for a walk after meal.



Certain lifestyle changes also help in reducing the discomfort caused by hiatal hernia. Avoid lying down or reclining immediately after a meal. A gap of three to four hours is recommended. Sleeping on an incline (45°) also helps reduce chances of a reflux.



Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre