You might be familiar with that feeling your chest is on fire and call it by its misnomer “heartburn”, but what you may not know is that the common culprit isn’t always too much stomach acid. Often indigestion can be caused by low stomach acid, also called hypochlorhydria.
This problem occurs when stomach acid is low, and makes it difficult to digest proteins. You could be eating healthy foods and still be malnourished. When this happens cortisol levels rise, blood glucose (blood sugar) increases and your adrenals become depleted (adrenal fatigue). Low stomach acid can also lead to pathogenic bacteria, candida and viruses by lowering your immunity level.
When all systems are go, your stomach produces hydrochloric acid (HCL) as an aid to digestion. HCL breaks down proteins into essential amino acids and stimulates the pancreas. When your HCL levels are too high or too low, it can cause gastric problems like heartburn, indigestion, constipation and bloating. Without proper HCL food is not completely digested.
HCL activates cells in the stomach to start secreting a protein-digesting enzyme known as pepsinogen, creating pepsin which is the main digestive enzyme. A proper balance is required
to kill bacteria, parasites, viruses that may come with the food, facilitate carbohydrate digestion and digest protein. When there is too much hyper secretions of pepsin, you get things like ulcers. When there is not enough, there is malabsorption.
Here are ways to get the balance right:
- Eliminate junk food. A diet of processed and fast foods destroys the HLC balance. Get rid of every bite of genetically modified (GMO) foods, additives, dyes, artificial flavors and white flour.
- Stop eating refined sugars. Replace with maple syrup, honey, stevia, or better yet, go sugar free altogether. Especially if your doctor has diagnosed you with Candida.
- Stop mixing carbohydrates and proteins in your meals. A “meat and potatoes” person is better served by a meat and non-starchy vegetable meal.
- Get plenty of B vitamins (especially thiamine) and minerals (especially zinc) into your diet. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc.
- Avoid antacids. Eliminating acid from the digestion process is not the solution. It causes more problems that it eliminates.
- Check with your doctor about your prescriptions and over the counter drugs that suppress HCL production and make adjustments.
- Don’t eat when you are upset. Stress eating can stop the production of HCL. Also, eat smaller meals. A full stomach is an overworked stomach.
- Replace table salt with Himalayan Pink Salt.
- Don’t drink ice water with meals. It lowers the production of stomach acid and slows down digestion.
- Mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into a glass of water right before your meals. This helps improve pH balance in your stomach.
You need stomach acid to digest your food. No purple pill is going to get to the root of the issue and fix your HCL levels. Your doctor can diagnose low stomach acid with complete blood counts (CBC) and comprehensive metabolic panels (CMP) and suggest a plan to get the balance right.