Acid Reflux, Indigestion or Gastro-intestinal Reflux Disease
The above conditions are often treated with prescribed antacids or proton pump inhibitor medications (PPI’s). The action of PPI’s is to reduce stomach acid. Stomach acid or Hydrochloric Acid (Hcl) is produced by the body to allow protein to be broken down and digested more easily in the stomach.
Hcl also carries out other important functions:
- Stimulates your pancreas and small intestine to produce digestive enzymes and bile. These are needed to break down fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
- Helps to prevent disease by killing invading bacteria and yeasts in foods by sterilising the stomach. Bacteria such as H.Pylori has been linked to an increased risk of ulcers and cancer.
- Assists in absorption of trace minerals, which are essential for normal body function.
- Assists with absorption of B12
Although we hear a lot about excessive stomach acid (hyper-chlorhydria) we do not hear much about too little stomach acid (hypo-chlorhydria or Achlorhydria). The symptoms of low stomach acid are very similar to those of high stomach acid.
Low stomach acid can result in:
- Accelerated ageing because of malabsorption.
- Wind, gas and bloating as foods are fermented instead of being digested, i.e. irritable bowel syndrome.
- A tendency to allergies. The reason for this is that if foods are poorly digested then large molecules get into the lower gut, where if the immune system reacts against them, can switch on allergy.
- Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD]
- Iron deficiency (anemia).
- B12 deficiency.
- A tendency to Candida dysbiosis or bacterial dysbiosis (imbalance in the natural gut flora).
What you can do if you suspect Low Stomach Acid
Mix one quarter of a teaspoon of Baking Soda in eight ounces of cold water. Drink first thing in the morning before eating or drinking. Time how long it is before you burp up to a max of 5 minutes. Burping within 2-3 minutes indicates an adequate amount of stomach acid. Early and repeated burping indicates excessive stomach acid.
Recommended Supplements for Low Stomach Acid
High dose Vitamin C at mealtimes. This mildy acidifies the stomach and may help with those who have a slightly low Hcl level.
Use Solgar Betaine Hydrochloride with Pepsin (natural substance from Beets). Start off with 1 capsule with food and build up to a maximum of 4-5. If a warm feeling is felt then reduce the dose down or stop. To neutralize the acid at any stage take half teaspoon of baking soda in 250mls water. Carry out the home test (above) first to ascertain if you are low in stomach acid.
Solgar Digestive Enzymes are also an option for those who need less Hydrochloric Acid and contain digestive enzymes to help with the break down all foods.
Please note: Hydrochloric acid supplementss should never be used with any anti-inflammatory medications, including Aspirin, Inodicin, Motrin, or Butazolidin.