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The Importance of Stomach Acid: Why Heartburn is often LOW Stomach Acid
In our world where heartburn and acid reflux medications are advertised every ten seconds, wouldn’t it be strange to find out that most people have low stomach acid? The heartburn products on the shelves are made to neutralize or reduce stomach acid- but in reality we tend to need to create more stomach acid to help digest our food. Let’s learn all about the importance of stomach acid!
Why are we so low in stomach acid?
As we age, our stomach acid levels naturally decline. However, we are noticing that even children have this problem with low stomach acid! A Standard American Lifestyle that is full of processed food, packaged “food-like” items, artificial ingredients and toxic chemicals, it’s not wonder why we are lacking in stomach acid. These items wreak havoc on our digestive system.
Having low stomach acid makes it difficult to digest protein- not being able to digest protein creates an issue with cortisol and blood sugar regulation, which creates stress on the adrenals. This in turn makes our mineral deficiencies worse since we need stomach acid to assimilate nutrients. We also need some minerals to make stomach acid! So it’s easy to get into this cycle of malnourishment.
The Symptoms of Low Stomach Acid:
- Bloating, belching, and flatulence immediately after meals
- Indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation
- Undigested food in stools
- Hair loss
- Food allergies
- Iron deficiency
- Weak, peeling, or cracked fingernails
- Adrenal fatigue
- Dry skin
- All autoimmune diseases
How do we replenish stomach acid?
One of the most popular remedies for increasing stomach acid and aiding in digestion is apple cider vinegar. ACV is one of the easiest and most cost effective healers you could add to your diet. This awesome vinegar helps digest food, assimilate minerals, regulates blood sugar, helps weight loss, detoxes the liver, can kill pathogens and some bacteria (like e.coli), is great for cardiovascular health, and has a role in protecting against cancer. The easiest way to use ACV is to put 1 tsp-1 tbsp in a glass of water and drink this 1-3 times a day. Start slow at first to acclimate your body to it as it is a potent healing tool.
Another great way to help stomach acid is salt water sole. This interesting remedy helps digestion, blood sugar regulation, aids in detox and is a natural antihistamine. How to make salt water sole:
Some other helpful ways to increase stomach acid: fermented foods, lemon juice, and most of all- mineral balancing. Getting an HTMA will show your personal mineral levels and see what could be causing your digestive issues.
Bitter herbs are the BEST support for overall digestive fire. Bitters help to stimulate stomach acid, digestive enzymes, and bile production. They help your body to heal naturally and improve all aspects of digestion. Bitter herbs are so incredible that herbalist David Winston says, “If I could do just one thing for most of my clients, I would give them Bitters” – David Winston, RH(AHG).
Our favorite bitters include: Earthley’s Digest Support, Herbalist and Alchemist Bitter sprays, Mountain Rose Herbs (chai flavor is my favorite), or Herb Pharm’s Better Bitters.
The process of making stomach acid requires several minerals, especially Zinc & Chloride. Digestion is a parasympathetic process so it can be hard to attain that in a hyper-sympathetic body. HTMA can show us the state of your nervous system and determine whether you are in a sympathetic or parasympathetic state. There are also several markers on the HTMA for determining if stomach acid is low as well.
If you are having persistent heartburn or digestive issues, be sure to rule out a hiatal hernia.