7 Ways to Improve Low Stomach Acid
Stomach acid is our first line of defence in protecting our bodies against pathogens. It is fundamental for our overall wellbeing and often neglected.
Stomach acid has 3 critical functions. It helps with;
- breakdown and absorption of protein, key nutrients, especially minerals.
- stimulates bile to be released from the gall bladder to metabolise fat efficiently, and
- creates a much needed and important barrier to invading organisms e.g. bacteria, viruses and parasites.
When HCL (hydrochloric acid) is low, the food in our stomach is not digested efficiently, and the food can linger longer than it is should, this can result in fermentation and the imbalance in acid. Or if you feel nausea after eating meat or discomfort or you have trouble digesting fats - it may be stomach acid is too low.
Low stomach acid is common, even in our children.
Low stomach acid can be common for people who have suffered infections of H.Pylori or who have been on antibiotics and other medications, experience chronic stress or are carrying a toxic load. Low stomach acid can then set the scene for damage to the delicate lining of the digestive tract which can then lead to the formation of leaky gut (a condition where the intestinal lining can become porous allowing larger, undigested food particles and / or toxins to flow freely into the blood stream and that normally aren't allowed through).
As it's our first line of defence, if it's too low, it may leave our digestive systems open for microbial infections e.g. parasites. Read my post on how to cleanse parasites here.
Symptoms that can be associated with low stomach acid;
- Flatulence (gas)
- Chronic fatigue
- Adrenal fatigue
- Dry skin/Dandruff
- Rectal itching
- Hair loss in women
- Iron/B12 Deficiency
- Multiple food allergies and/or sensitivities
- Week, peeling & cracked Fingernails
Some causes of low stomach acid;
- Poor diet
- Mineral deficiencies
- Excess sugar and carbohydrates
- Processed foods
- B vitamin deficiency
- Chronic infections
- Advanced age
- Anti-acid usage
- Heartburn medications
- NSAID (Tylenol, aspirin, ibuprofen) Usage
- Birth control pills
- Chronic stress
- Other digestive problems
- Anti-biotic usage
These symptoms could also relate to other health conditions, stomach acid (HCL) is just one thing to consider and fortunately, there are many natural ways to increase HCL in the stomach - simply.
7 steps to improve low stomach acid.
1. Ginger Pickle
I love referring to the simple power of traditional wisdom and food. This is a recipe I came across from Christa Orrecio at the Whole Journey, with a nod to ayurvedic wisdom. Check it out below in 'Kitchen Medicine'.
2. Ingest Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar has a very low pH i.e. it's very alkalising and can help balance the acidity in the stomach. Make sure it's a good quality. We use the 'Braggs' brand. Use it before meals. As with anything use it in moderation. Just as we can be too acidic, we can also be too alkaline.
3. Enjoy garlic.
Garlic contains a substance called Allium that helps prevent ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori (h. pylori) bacteria. It can also help with other microbial infections.
4. Decrease the amount of acidic type foods.
Foods such as coffee, tea, sugar, alcohol and hot sauces and fried foods can all deplete our levels of HCL and thin the gut lining.
5. Manage Stress!
This is so important as it's so easy to carry stress in todays world - especially for busy Mums. Stress, especially chronic or ongoing stress can leave the body acidic. Meditation, breath work, yoga, massage, enjoying more time outdoors is great for calming the body and managing stress.
6. Chew food.
So often we are racing through life, and we don’t take time to chew our food. Be mindful and take time to really enjoy, savour and chew your food. It needs to be fully chewed before swallowing. And if you have little children around, they are awesome at this. Watch and learn from our littlest teachers.
7. Eat smaller meals especially in the evening.
If we're eating very large meals, we’re not going to allow our body to heal and fully digest and absorb the food, especially in the evening. Try smaller meals if need be and a lighter meal in the evening to allow the body to rest and repair through the night rather than working on digesting.
8. Add in foods high in zinc.
Zinc is a trace mineral (a mineral needed in smaller amounts) that's needed to help in the manufacture of stomach acid. If we are low in zinc, (which is common nowadays) then it could mean our stomach acid isn't at the right levels. Foods high in zinc include; organic beef and lamb, oysters, yoghurt and dairy kefir, cashews, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, spinach, chicken, sesame seeds.
If you have a health condition you haven't been able to get to the bottom of and you haven't yet considered stomach acid, could it be the missing link? Please get in touch for a consult or with your health practitioner, especially if it's autoimmune, thyroid or adrenal related.
'why stomach acid is good for you' Jonathan Wright, MD & Lane Lenard, PhD
Dr Michael Ruscio