Is Low Stomach Acid the Cause of my Acid Reflux?
I was always led to believe that acid reflux was caused by too much stomach acid (HCl) and so taking antacids was the obvious thing to do. Problem was that they didn’t solve the problem, in fact the problem kept on getting worse. It was a complete revelation to me to discover that LOW levels of HCl cause the same symptoms as too much and when I looked into the possible causes of low HCl I identified with so many of them that it became clear to me that I needed to ditch the antacids and find a different way to solve this painful problem. There can be a number of unpleasant symptoms associated with low stomach acid (HCl) including:
Flatulence after meals
Foul smelling flatulence
Undigested food in stools
Heavy feeling in the stomach after meal as if a rock is just sitting there
Weak, peeling, brittle nails
Rosacea (dilated blood vessels on cheeks and nose)
Anaemia (iron or B12)
Helicobacter pylori - thrives in an alkaline environment.
Ageing The natural process of ageing means that nothing is working at it’s peak performance anymore, body systems are a bit slower and this includes the production of stomach acid needed to break down protein food in the stomach. As we age we have to be aware of this and work a little harder to ensure adequate stomach acid. Read 16 ways to increase stomach acid here.
Chronic stress The body only has one stress response regardless of the situation you are in. Being stuck in a traffic jam or being on the receiving end of a perceived snub will produce the same adrenalin rush that fighting off a lion would produce. A whole heap of chemical changes happen in that split second of ‘danger’ and part of that stress response is to shut down digestion because your body is not expecting you to want to eat a meal while you’re fighting that lion. It shuts down the resources to your digestion and directs all those resources to areas that will need them in order to fight i.e. muscles, brain, eyes etc. If we continue in a stressful frame of mind day in and day out, perhaps reliving those hurtful words that were spoken or the frustration of things going wrong then our digestion stays on a go-slow and stomach acid is not produce in adequate amounts.
Stress levels must be brought down by effective stress management in order to give our digestive systems a chance to work properly again.
Impact on nutrients when HCl is low:
Vitamin B12 relies on intrinsic factor to be absorbed and this is produced with HCl secretion
Iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and copper need an acidic environment to be absorbed
Most B vitamins need HCl for absorption
If HCl levels are low then the chyme (the food mass formed in the stomach) entering the small intestines will not stimulate the release of digestive enzymes needed for breaking down and absorbing nutrients.
To get an indication if low HCl is causing your symptoms try this:
Dilute a tbsp ACV with water and consume with each meal. If it relieves symptoms, you need more HCl. If it makes symptoms worse you have too much HCl. If so take Bicarbonate of soda in water to alkalise the acidity.