Have you said the following, or had a friend mention these words to you?
I am here to tell ya, you are fresh out of stomach acid! Yup, you heard me…you most likely need to add this into your diet!
Any of these sound familiar? Do you are a family member tend to carry your Pepsid or your tums on hand at all times…Here is something that will be a shocker for most of you… they’re probably all wrong. While the assumption seems logical that if you FEEL stomach acid that you must have too much, the opposite is true in nearly all cases.
So, here are some of the symptoms people have when there is LOW stomach acid:
burning feeling in gut after meals (heartburn!)
frequent belching after meals
feeling of fullness after meals
stomach upsets easily
gas, flatulence after meals
chronic intestinal infections: bacterial, yeasts, parasites
chronic candida infection (candidiasis)
undigested food in stools
known food sensitivities
WOW! These all seem to be the symptoms for acid reflux, lets take a moment and learn a bit about our digestion and how it all functions in our bodies.
When food enters your stomach, it’s the job of your stomach (primarily your stomach acid - hydrochloric acid or HCl) to begin to break down, or denature, proteins into amino acids as well as to send the signal downstream to your pancreas to prepare to release digestive enzymes. It’s also the job of proper levels of HCl to kill off any microscopic pathogenic material that may be present in our food before they pass through to the small intestine. Without appropriate levels of stomach acid, these tasks cannot properly and comfortably be completed.
When you feel acid reflux/heartburn, what’s happening is that stomach acid is creeping back up your esophagus, which is naturally an alkaline environment. Since stomach acid is, well, acidic, you FEEL that acid causing a burning sensation. Here’s the catch, when stomach acid remains IN your stomach, you don’t feel the acid, right? That’s because, if all is working properly (and you do not have a gastric ulcer) the lining of your stomach has an intact mucosal lining which forms a barrier so that you don’t feel the acid that’s there, doing it’s job.
But wait, why do I feel reflux from not enough stomach acid?
When you swallow a bite, you send food down your esophagus to your stomach. Chances are, you didn’t chew it that well. Most of us don’t chew our food as completely as we should, which isn’t helping anything. CHEW YOUR FOOD. WELL! When food hits your stomach, it’s GO time. Your stomach begins to churn and mix HCl and other digestive enzymes with your food to produce chyme (the blend of denatured food and HCl). According to Chris Kresser, L.Ac, the reflux “is caused by increased pressure in the stomach resulting in a malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The increase in pressure is caused by bacterial overgrowth and malabsorption of carbohydrates, both of which are precipitated by low stomach acid. Reducing bacteria loads and limiting carbohydrate intake have both been shown to greatly improve, and in some cases completely cure, acid reflux and GERD.”
Some simple ways you can work to prevent these symptoms and work to heal your stomach…
1. REMOVE REFINED FOODS, GRAIN PRODUCTS AND OTHER GUT IRRITANTS FROM YOUR DIET.
Consuming foods that are difficult to digest and that disrupt blood sugar regulation, these items are refined foods, grains, and sweetners preventing a proper production of the stomach acids to break down your foods. These foods will feed the bad bacteria in your gut and encourage them to proliferate and will also disrupt digestion via increased intestinal permeability, or in simple terms creating a “leaky gut” environment. Some other digestion-disruptors include but are not limited to legumes, dairy (mainly pasteurized), alcohol, NSAID drugs, and antibiotics.
2. CHEW YOUR FOOD COMPLETELY.
This is not going to increase your stomach acid, but it will promote proper digestion. Did you know the digestive system only functions properly in a parasympathetic state? This is referred to the “rest and digest mode”, this part of your nervous system is in charge of all the functions that you do not control consciously….your digestive process!
Yes, this means you should sit in a quiet and calm place before you eat. This allows the body to properly prepare for digestion and signaling the release of enzymes and HCL for digestion…cool…that is not so bad right? So sit at the table with your family, take a deep breath…say some grace or words of thanks…then dig in!
4. USE NATURAL DIGESTIVE AIDS / HCl PROMOTORS.
Reduce your intake of carbohydrates, fiber and sugar/sweeteners in all forms (including artificial), especially fructose. These all promote dysbiosis (imbalanced gut flora) by feeding the bad bacteria in your gut.
Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Try about 1Tbsp in 1oz of water taken 10-20 minutes before a meal.
Digestive bitters. You can find these in tincture form (liquid in a dropper) many health food stores. Dosage will vary and will be marked on the bottle.
5. SUPPLEMENT WITH HCl TABLETS WITH PEPSIN:
Contact Enso, and we can set you up with the appropriate supplement for you, typically they’ll contain betaine HCl. Take 1 with a meal and note any changes or sensations. Add 1 to each dose taking one more at each meal until you feel a slight burning in your upper gastric area. Once you feel that, back off and take the amount that was lower. So, for example, take 1 with meal #1, 2 with meal #2 and 3 with meal #3. If you still feel nothing, keep going until you do. I would estimate that stopping around 5 will ease symptoms even if you still don’t feel the burning sensation so more than that may not be necessary.
Also an important warning from Chris Kresser on HCl supplementation: “HCL should never be taken (and this test should not be performed) by anyone who is also using any kind of anti-inflammatory medication such as corticosteroids (e.g. predisone), aspirin, Indocin, ibuprofen (e.g. Motrin, Advil, etc.) or other NSAIDS. These drugs can damage the GI lining that supplementary HCL might aggravate, increasing the risk of gastric bleeding or ulcer.”
These are simple steps that can be taken to turn your digestion around, and start to heal your body from the inside out! If you are ready to take that next step to healing your body give Enso a call! For more information on how to heal your digestion, contact Enso at 715.209.5553 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!