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Do you suffer from wind, burping and bloating after eating, and does it feel like food is sitting heavily in your stomach? Do heartburn or indigestion make your life a misery? Then chances are you don’t have enough stomach acid.
If you’re affected by heartburn, you might think your stomach is producing too much acid, but this is a common misconception. In fact, it’s often a sign your stomach acid is too low. This misunderstanding has left many people without enough acid to digest their food properly, leaving in its wake an epidemic of poor digestion.
Read on to find out more.
The acid mixture produced by your stomach plays a crucial role in your digestion. Once food leaves your mouth, your stomach is where digestion kicks off, so if it isn’t performing well, the rest of your digestive tract will suffer, too.
Your stomach secretes a strong acid when it expects food to be delivered. It must be this pH because the enzymes with the job of digesting the protein in your food need this acid environment to work.
Producing too little stomach acid is technically known as hypochlorhydria, and it’s incredibly common.
If you’re low in stomach acid, you might experience the following:
Too little stomach acid has been found in research to be linked with a less diverse range of natural bacteria in the digestive system 1. A wide range of species in the intestinal microbiome is connected to better overall health.
Once food leaves your stomach it’s released into your small intestine, where further digestion occurs. If the mixture leaving your stomach isn’t acidic enough, your small intestine won’t recognise the need to release the enzymes required to digest carbohydrates. This can lead to bloating, a general feeling of digestive sluggishness, and continued poor digestion.
Many factors can lead to reduced stomach acid secretion.
As you age, you naturally produce less stomach acid.
If you’re constantly in ‘fight or flight’ mode, your body won’t prioritise digestion and waste energy making stomach acid. Try not to less stress dominate you.
These and other medications like proton pump inhibitors are often prescribed for heartburn and acid reflux. Some conventional practitioners believe these conditions are caused by too much stomach acid. So medicines either neutralise any acid made, or prevent the stomach from producing it. This simply masks your symptoms and prevents your stomach acid from doing its important work.
You need nutrients like zinc and B vitamins to make stomach acid. In turn, low stomach acid causes a deficiency of these nutrients in a vicious circle.
This doesn’t allow time for your stomach to react and produce acid. To help your stomach prepare for food, always try to sit down and relax before and after eating, and chew your food thoroughly. Drinking a lot of liquid with meals can dilute the stomach acid you do produce.
Because your stomach acid is so important, ensuring you have enough is a priority for Functional Medicine practitioners. Using a combination of symptom assessment and the results of functional tests, if your stomach acid is found to be low, a range of nutritional, supplement and lifestyle suggestions will be recommended to restore it and improve your digestion.
Are you concerned about your stomach acid levels? Why not book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.
Please enter your details below and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
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