17 Apr Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You?
My girlfriend and I had just finished a delightful little lunch.
“Oh, my stomach,” my friend complained.
Frowning, she grimaced, grabbing her stomach with her hand.
“Kelly, describe what else you feel right after you eat,” I said, hating to intrude but wanting to help.
“Sure. Typically, directly after I eat I have belching, bloating, gas, acid reflux, and sometimes cramping. I don’t always have a daily bowel movement, and I almost always strain to eliminate. It’s darn right uncomfortable. I am constantly taking antacids,” she confessed.
We chatted a bit more, and I concluded that the issue might be a lack of stomach acid.
The Role of Stomach Acid
When your stomach pH rises (making a more alkaline environment in the abdomen), digestion and nutrient absorption is thrown completely out of whack. Your diet may consist of the most well-balanced food yet, if your stomach acidity is too alkaline, you may truly remain undernourished.
Between meals, your stomach acid should be somewhere in the range of pH1.5 and pH3.5. Proper stomach acidity is necessary for the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus to stay solidly shut. When food enters your stomach acidity should increase. Next, your stomach does a two-step dance with gastrin. This hormone controls the release of HCL increasing acidity and begins muscle contractions which eventually propels pulverized food into your duodenum (small intestine).
The dance continues as the food slurry moves down your duodenum, triggering the release of secretin. The secretin stimulates your pancreas releasing bicarbonate. This raises the pH and simultaneously releases enzymes, digested fats, and any undigested proteins. If the gastric acid secretion is too alkaline, the release of pancreatic enzymes may never occur. The food becomes rancid, fermenting in your gut. This is why you may feel bloated, have gas, constipation, and belch.
When proper stomach acid levels are present, proteins and fats are broken down properly. Amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals will all be absorbed sufficiently. Insufficient acidity ushers in enzyme deficiency. This results in an over-all nutritional lack eventually resulting in disease.
A Simple Test
Drinking a little baking soda in water will create a chemical reaction of carbon dioxide gas within your stomach. The result should be a little harmless burping.
It is best to do this test in the morning before you eat or drink anything.
Directions: Mix 1/4 tsp of baking soda into a 4 oz glass of water. Drink down the solution all at once. Now, time how long it takes for you to get a burp out. Any burping after the 3-minute mark is a sign of sufficient stomach acid. If you go longer than 5 minutes without burping, you most likely have insufficient stomach acid production.
By-all-means this is not a foolproof test, but it can give an indication of what your stomach acid might be like.
Why You Should Not Use Antacids
Alkalinity in the stomach encourages bacterial overgrowths, parasites, viruses, and impaired nutrient absorption. Antacids keep your stomach acid continually alkaline. That spells trouble.
In order to kill these little invaders and digest your food properly, you need your stomach acid to be very acidic, not alkaline. Whether in liquid form or tablets antacids add insult to injury. Stay away from them!
A Few Helpful Tips
1. During the day, consume green smoothies made with dark green veggies, like spinach and kale. It is a good idea to do this daily for a few of your meals. These smoothies are easy on the digestive system and are in a form that can enhance your stomach acid. Good recipes can be found on the web and are nutritious and delicious.
Here is one of my favorite recipes:
2 organic green apples
2 organic cucumbers
4 organic stalks of celery
2 handfuls of organic spinach
1 juice of a fresh organic lemon
1 knob of fresh organic ginger
2. Limit the water (beverages) you drink with your meals until after you are finished eating. Drinking water will dilute your stomach acid. Wait at least 30 minutes to consume water after a meal.
3. Squeeze the juice of a whole lemon or lime into the water you consume. These acidic fruits actually turn alkaline in the body assisting in keeping your stomach acid sufficient.
4. Add ginger to your menu! Drink ginger tea or take ginger supplements. Ginger improves stomach juices enhancing the digestive process. It is part of a group of herbs called carminatives. Often folks who like to cruise will take along ginger supplements to calm down a queasy stomach.
5. Add into your daily menus all sorts of fermented foods. Kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickled foods. These foods have an anti-microbial effect reducing the bacterial load in the stomach such as H Pylori. This assists your body to be able to produce sufficient stomach acid.
6. Taking a betaine HCL supplement can be a lifesaver for you. And note that many people do not have to take this supplement for life. As your stomach acid becomes sufficient you may notice a slight warming sensation using this supplement. That is a notice from your gut that your stomach acid is becoming adequate and use of the supplement may no longer be necessary.
7. Eat a high-quality organic diet. This will bring nutrition and balance back into your body minus the toxins that are so common in conventionally grown and processed food.
A Final Word On Stomach Acid
Stomach acid isn’t there to punish you for consuming a large meal. Acid is your friend. To ponder the reality of how our stomach actually holds this acid is rather miraculous and a topic for another day! Just remember, highly acidic stomach acid is necessary and required for proper digestion.
Sources for Article:
Body Ecology: Low Stomach Acid: The Risks, the Symptoms, and the Solutions
Dr. Jockers: 10 Ways to Improve Stomach Acid Levels
Dr. Mercola: Acid Reflux: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention
Healthline: What is Hypochlorhydria?
PubMed: Nutritional Interventions for Gastroesophageal Reflux, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Hypochlorhydria: A Case Report