In my last post, I talked about managing gastric problems due to high amount of hydrochloric acid in your stomach. What if you have low hydrochloric acid? The symptoms are similar; acid reflux, heartburn, burping, bloating and nausea. How do you know which is which?
Answer the following questions to find out:
- Do you feel that the food tend to sit in your stomach for a long time after a meal?
- Do you have bowel movement that feel “incomplete” even when you eat a good amount of fiber?
- Do you tend to belch or have gas after a meal?
- Do you have constipation?
- Do you have to use laxative frequently?
- Do you have bouts of diarrhea?
- Do you have difficulty losing weight?
- Have you been stress over a long period of time?
If you have more than 3 yes to any of these questions, chances are you have low stomach acid.
Function of stomach acid
1) Protein digestion – enzyme for protein digestion function properly in the presence of stomach acid. When the stomach acid is low, protein is not properly digested causing protein malnourished and acidity in the blood.
2) Gastric emptying – after the food is digested in the stomach, the high acid content induces the stomach to release the digested food into the small intestine. Low stomach acid delays the emptying of stomach content giving the feeling of overstuffed.
3) Nutrients absorption – some nutrients can only be absorbed into the body in an acidic environment. They are zinc, calcium, copper, iron, vitamin B12, folic acid and protein. Low stomach acid prevents the nutrients from being absorbed can cause malnutrition.
4) Immune system – acid in the stomach kills harmful bacteria and prevents them from going into the small intestine. Helicobacter pylori, an ulcer causing bacteria thrives in a low stomach acid environment. Harmful bacteria attack the gut lining causing inflammation and affect the immune system.
You will be wondering why do I feel good after taking antacid or acid blocker if my stomach acid is low? Food not properly digested in the stomach is fermented by bacteria and produces it’s own organic acids. This creates a burning sensation and gives you the feeling you have high stomach acid.
How do you increase stomach acid?
1) Eliminate or reduce refined sugar
Sugar is the source of food for bacteria helping the harmful bacteria thrive in the low stomach acid environment.
2) Eat more fermented food and drinks
Fermented foods are probiotic that help to restore healthy bacteria in the stomach. The digestive enzymes in fermented food also help protein breakdown in the presence of low stomach acid environment. Good examples of fermented foods are:
- Natto – traditional Japanese dish of fermented soya bean
- Kimchee – Korean version of sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage
- Kefir – fermented raw milk
- Yoghurt – be careful of the commercially prepared ones, which are laden with sugar to make it taste nice.
3) Drink plenty of water
Water increases the volume of liquid, which helps the stomach to squirt the content through the small opening into the small intestine. This helps the stomach to empty its content faster.
4) Chew your food properly
Take time to chew your food to cut it into smaller size and allow the enzymes in the saliva to digest it before sending it to the stomach.
5) Omega 3
Omega-3 is a good anti-inflammatory agent, which can help to reduce the overall inflammation and heals the stomach.
6) Cleanse and detoxify
Cleanse and detox the digestive system helps to reduce and eliminate the harmful bacteria as well as reduce the toxin load on the body.
If you are taking drugs such as Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, try the above ways to slowly increase your stomach acid. These drugs are designed to treat very limited range of severe problems and they have sides effects.
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