Dear Martina, I think I'm suffering from hyperacidity.

I was a cola drinker but stopped when I felt pain in my upper stomach. It has been two months now since I have had any.

I also like eating fat from fried pork chops but suffer when I eat it.

What are the foods I should and should not eat?

Yours, Rachel Dear Rachel, Your stomach is a crucial piece of bodily kit so don't ignore it when it starts grumbling.

Although the stomach has a protective mucus layer to shield it from potentially damaging substances, raw areas may develop which cause pain and indigestion when you eat or drink acidic foods.

This may also happen if you stimulate the production of excess acid by eating too many rich and spicy foods.

Fatty and fried foods can prolong the stomach's emptying time and delay digestion.

If indigestion persists or is severe, it should always be investigated to rule out ulcers or other problems.

In the meantime, try to eat regular meals in a calm, stress-free environment and chew your food properly.

Avoid cola-type fizzy drinks and eat food that has been simply prepared rather than packaged and stored for a long time.

A diet high in saturated fats, nitrates (found in processed meats, pickled and salted foods), chocolate, alcohol, coffee, sugar and refined foods has been associated with higher rates of stomach ulcers.

On the other hand, a diet containing high levels of fruit, vegetables, tofu, garlic, beans, pulses and millet lowers the risk factor for ulcers.

Interestingly, milk been found to increase stomach acid secretion rather than neutralise it, yet fermented milk products with friendly bacteria are beneficial.

Stomach acid is strong stuff but we need it in order to digest protein-rich food.

It also helps to utilise vitamins and minerals in our food, such as iron, calcium, zinc and the B vitamins.

In addition, the acid sterilises the gut and protects us from bacteria, fungi and parasites present in food and water.

It is commonly assumed that indigestion is caused by too much acid. In many cases, however, it is due to the fact not enough acid is being produced.

If your acid levels are too low, food can begin to ferment and produce gas causing bad breath, heartburn and flatulence.

The stomach is one of the most abused organs in the body, especially around Christmas time but a nutritionist should be able to give you advice on how to rebalance your digestive system without the need for antacid medication.

Your particular digestive requirements will be taken into account as well as your current diet and lifestyle.

You should be taught how to assist your body with the breakdown and assimilation of food, how to prevent indigestion whenever you have overindulged or what to do once you experience more persistent problems.

It is true to say that if you look after your stomach, it will look after you.

Martina is a qualified
nutritionist at the Crescent Clinic of Complementary Medicine, 37 Vernon Terrace, Brighton. Tel: 01273 202221 or email: martina@