Have you felt any of these things before or even daily?
• Burning in your stomach region (heartburn is what most people say)?
• Intense pain in the upper GI/stomach area (some will still call this heart burn)?
• Bloating, belching, gas quickly following meals.
• Constipation or diarrhea
• Immune symptoms
• Allergies & asthma
These are symptoms of a stomach acid (HCL) issue. And it’s TOO LITTLE stomach acid that is the cause (not too much like you might have thought).
How do we end up with too little stomach acid?
• Mucosal lining breakdown occurs.
If there is mucosal damage in the stomach lining the gastric juice will be low. That means if you have pain and burning feelings there, not only does that mean you need mucosal healing supports, but you also have low stomach acid. Which means that your food has not been released properly to the lower part of the digestive tract, which means there are other issues south of the stomach in digestion.
• Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
You may also have vitamin and mineral deficiencies leading to low stomach acid as well. It is very necessary to have enough zinc (and most people DO NOT) to produce stomach acid (and in addition you need adequate amounts of acid to ABSORB zinc from your food). You also need water (not DURING a meal but between meals). You also likely have poor B12 absorption as HCL is part of the process for next steps to absorb B12.
• Food intolerances and/or sensitivities
These come from either an inability of your body to break down a certain food (think lactose intolerance), or from irritation from an immune response or body activation of food that has leaked from the gut into the blood stream.
Certain foods are more inflammatory than others (especially packaged and processed foods, and highly processed grains, sugars and oils). These can cause damage and breakdown in the digestive tract, leading to the symptoms above as well as the deficiencies mentioned that are raw materials for HCL production.
• Lifestyle Choices
Alcohol, coffee and other similar beverages can be damaging to the digestive tract as well and can alter the HCL production and process.
Why is stomach acid important?
• Helps us break down nutrients properly for absorption.
• Helps food enter the small intestines in the proper format for absorption. Which will prevent things like leaky gut.
• Keeps parasites and microbes at bay and prevents further overgrowth or growth in the small and large intestines.
• Helps with protein digestion
• Stimulates other parts of the digestive process also necessary for proper absorption and breakdown of our food.
If you want to get the nutrients out of the great foods you eat – you need stomach acid. Without it you are losing many nutrients, and in addition causing distress to the rest of the digestive system. If you take supplements, you will never optimize their use without proper stomach acid. If you have immunity issues you are working on through proper digestion and supports, you MUST eliminate the irritants and restore proper levels or you won’t give your body the chance it needs to correct the symptoms you have.
Stomach acid is quite literally the very first step in fixing any type of body issue you have because this is the first point that must be successful in the body to get proper food, nutrient absorption.
What might happen if it’s been like that for awhile?
You may need some additional upper GI supports to heal up that mucosal lining. (If you don’t you end up with ulcers, or very difficult inflammation in the stomach and likely lower gut as well).
You may need HCL support itself depending on the situation and after proper healing supports have been done. (If you don’t you may go back to just having the same problem you had before).
You likely need some gut healing and sealing supports through proper nutrition without irritants, hydration, and specific supplements targeted at your particular imbalance. These give your body a boost beyond the change in food to get the tissues repaired on their own. (Seal up that small intestine that has become leaky due to improper food breakdown before it arrives in the intestine).
You probably need a great probiotic to help support the microbiome which may have become overgrown with poor microbes due to lack of acidity and mucus breakdown.
You may also need other digestive supports for various accessory organs like the liver, gallbladder and pancreas. This depends on their status at that point.
What can you do at home to support your stomach acid?
• Be sure you are drinking enough water daily.
Water is an easy place to start. This should be had in small amounts between meals consistently all day. At least half your weight in water ounces daily as a baseline. If you have beverages like coffee or alcohol you will need more to compensate.
• Decrease coffee and alcoholic beverage consumption.
These are direct mucosal layer breakdown things. They create imbalance that can contribute or be a part of a stomach acid problem.
• Slow down at meal time
Stomach acid is triggered by the brain to begin the digestion process. When we eat on the run, or don’t take the time to be calm before a meal and enjoy the tastes, sights and smells, we are less likely to generate enough acid for the meal we are about to consume. Sometimes THIS step alone helps people get rid of the majority of the symptoms on the list. Especially if they are newer to that person.
• Evaluate Acid Blocker use
If you are taking acid blockers or anti-acids speak with your doctor if they are prescription about how long you have taken those and proper steps to possibly wean off. Long term use of these is never recommended, even in the medical and drug world. If you have permission to cease their use, contact me to learn more about proper steps to wean off and restore function!
• Eliminate packaged and processed foods from your diet
As always – I will say it again – these are LOADED with inflammatory agents, chemicals and additives that create digestive breakdown and are completely devoid of nutritional value for health restoration. To get a plan to make these changes, book a consult – that is what I am here for.
• Eat a lot of vegetables, fruits and properly sourced meats, and limited grains
This helps heal tissues through proper whole food eating. It also reduced or eliminates chemicals, additives from food sources. Grains in nature are more inflammatory (some much more than others). Working with a practitioner can help you sort out what foods are best for YOUR body.