I’m sure most of us have been there. After a heavy meal, or laying down after having dinner, we’ve all had that uncomfortable burning sensation. Especially with the heavier foods in fall and winter. Since it’s Acid Reflux Week, I’ve decided to talk about a few things you can control to help if the reasons for the reflux is low stomach acid. Yep! If you don’t have enough stomach acid to go around, it can cause heart burn, among other things.
Symptoms of Low Stomach Acid
- Stomach bloating
- Nausea when taking supplements
- Upset Stomach
- Post-Adolescent Acne
- Iron and other Mineral Deficiency
- Intestinal Infections
- Undigested Food in Stool
Stomach Acid’s Role in Digestion
Interestingly enough, our stomach acid doesn’t actually digest food! It facilitates it.
- It activates pepsinogen, which then becomes the digestive enzyme pepsin. Stomach acid helps unravel proteins in the stomach, but pepsin begins the chemical breakdown of proteins and starts breaking them down into amino acids. If you don’t have enough stomach acid, your pepsin level will be low too and proteins will not be properly digested and ready for the small intestine.
- Stomach acid (hydrochloric acid, HCI) stimulates the release of pancreatic enzymes and bile to the small intestine which supports the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins A & E.
- HCI also aids in the absorption of vitamin and minerals including folic acid and iron.
Along with that, stomach acid kills bacteria and protects the rest of our system. If you have low stomach acid there is less of a chance it will kill off the bacteria it normally would.
What Causes Low Stomach Acid?
- Poor Diet
We’ll address what you can change in your diet or routine. But soon I want to write about how stress effects our digestion. If it’s something you want to read about let me know!
How to Increase Stomach Acid
- CHEW YOUR FOOD: Chewing your food stimulates your digestive enzymes and stimulates your stomach to “rev up”. Thoroughly chewing your food gives the stomach more time for what it needs to do and doesn’t need to work as hard to break down what the mouth already should have done.
- CUT OUT PROCESSED FOODS: Processed foods, and specifically sugar, causes inflammation in your stomach and can trigger acid reflux symptoms.
- EAT FERMENTED FOODS: Kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles are a few, but they help to naturally improve your stomach acid levels. They have probiotics that help digestion, reduce inflammation, and fight bacteria.
- APPLE CIDER VINEGAR: Raw apple cider vinegar (with mother) not only adds to the acidity, but it also is rich in enzymes that help break down bacteria in food.
- WHOLE FOOD VITAMINS & DIGESTIVE ENZYMES: A whole food vitamin can help restore the vitamins and minerals needed for HCI production, especially B-Vitamins. Taking digestive enzymes can help you digest food until your stomach acid can get back to normal.
- DRINK WARM/HOT DRINKS DURING MEALS: Ice water inhibits the production of stomach acid and slows down digestion. Drink room temperature water, herbal tea, or warm lemon water with your meal instead.
Your acid reflux might not be because of low stomach acid, but for many it is. Low stomach acid can be something you can control and not have to deal with if you change just a few things. It’s important to have a balanced level of stomach acid otherwise the rest of our digestive system suffers and we don’t absorb some of our vital nutrients which can lead to unwanted symptoms.