Having enough hydrochloric acid is essential for proper digestion. It is now known that many digestive problems which used to be associated with high stomach acid are actually caused by low stomach acid. Problems such as indigestion, reflux, parasites and undigested food passing through can be a result of low stomach acid. And if food isn’t being broken down adequately you cannot absorb all the nutrients from the food you eat. If this continues long term more problems can occur such as deficiencies and gut damage.
How do you know if you have low stomach acid?
The only way to find out for sure is to get a test done by a professional, never diagnose yourself. However symptoms can be very similar to high levels of hydrochloric acid which is why getting a professional diagnosis is essential.
Problems which may be associated with low hydrochloric acid include:
• Food intolerance
• Fullness after eating small amounts
• Undigested food in stools
• Chronic gastrointestinal infections
• Poor immunity
What causes low hydrochloric acid?
One common cause of low stomach acid is eating when stressed, upset, worried or emotional. Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system which stops the production of hydrochloric acid. Another cause may be a diet which is deficient in a variety of vitamins and minerals; or a diet high in processed foods. Then there is the over the counter acid suppressors, if used long term this can cause acid production to slow down and while they may be necessary for certain treatments they can cause digestive problems if they become over used.
Natural ways to increase stomach acid:
There are many treatments to increase stomach acid if you have been diagnose with low production. Some people recommend taking hydrochloric acid supplements, however this can be very dangerous and should only ever be done under the supervision of a medical doctor. Some natural ways to increase stomach acid include:
• Relaxing when eating
• Eat slowly, chew well
• Consume a wholefood diet
• Cut down on junk food
• Include fermented foods in your diet
• Drinking bitter teas such as ginger tea
• Eliminate food sensitivities such as gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts etc.
• Cut out irritating foods and drinks such as coffee, spicy foods, and alcohol.
• Cutting out the nightshades may help (potatoes, tomatoes, capsicum).
• Lemons, pineapple, apple cider vinegar and limes may help.