The role of stomach acid is to help breakdown our food and signal the release of digestive enzymes. Stomach acid plays a direct role in immunity by killing off any harmful bacteria or parasites we ingest. It’s also crucial for absorption of Vitamin B12, which is essential for gut health.
While many people are prescribed antacids or H2 blockers for heart burn, what they may be experiencing in reality is regurgitation of bile through the stomach into the lower esophogus.
“Heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest caused by the regurgitation of bile through the stomach into the lower esophagus, is a frequent symptom of low gastric acid. The traditional approach of treating heartburn is to suppress gastric acid by taking antacids or alkalizers. This approach is the opposite of what should often be done, and in many cases only worsens the problem by suppressing gastric acidity when it is needed and promoting it (rebound phenomenon) when it is unnecessary.” http://nutritionreview.org/2013/04/gastric-balance-heartburn-caused-excess-acid/
Symptoms of low stomach acid can include:
- Indigestion and bloating
- Burping or Gas after meals
- Excessive fullness or discomfort after meals
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Chronic intestinal infections
- Undigested food in stools
- Food allergies, intolerences, and sensitivities
- Chronic fatigue
- Mineral and nutrient deficiencies (including iron and/or vitamin B12 deficiency)
- Dry skin or hair
- Hair loss
- Weak or cracked nails
Risk factors for low stomach acid can be:
- h. Pylori bacteria infection
- Any autoimmune disease diagnosis including Addison’s Disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, etc.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
Two ways you can raise low stomach acid levels are by taking unfiltered, unheated apple cider vinegar with meals (always dilute it) or by taking hydrochloric acid with betaine before meals. Read here for more information on how to dose and of course discuss with your doctor.
For more information about stomach acid, here are some excellent articles:
- Hydrochloric Acid (HCl): http://nutritionreview.org/2013/04/gastric-balance-heartburn-caused-excess-acid/
- I have no idea how accurate it is or if it is at all accurate, but some do the pink urine “beet test” at home to see if they have low stomach acid: http://www.bodyenlightenment.me/blog/2012/05/do-the-beet-test-how-to-tell-if-you-have-low-stomach-acid-weak-digestion/
- The STTM link also has info on “testing” for low stomach acid at home: http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/stomach-acid/
- Low stomach acid can be related to B12 deficiency. Read my article on B12 Deficiency here.
- If you have low stomach acid, you need to know about the connection with h.Pylori bacteria! http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/h-pylori/
- More great info on how raw Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) can help: http://blog.paleohacks.com/apple-cider-vinegar-part-1/