We’ve been told by the conventional medical world that too much stomach acid is the cause of reflux and heartburn. This simply isn’t correct. Stomach acid is incredibly beneficial to the body and an increase in stomach acid can actually reduce and many times cure issues like acid reflux or heartburn and improve common issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), leaky gut, colitis, and other gastrointestinal problems.
Let me explain. . .
What Does Stomach Acid Do?
Stomach acid (also known as Hydrochloric acid or HCl) is a necessary part of the digestive process. The acid is our first line of defense against pathogens, bacteria, parasites, etc. It also helps us digest our food properly.
When the body is relaxed, HCl is released into the stomach and breaks down fats into fatty acids, carbohydrates into glucose, and proteins into amino acids. This breakdown is very important so the body can then use the nutrients in our food.
When the food in your stomach has been mixed with the correct amount of stomach acid, enzymes, and other digestive secretions, it will reach an acidity between 1.5-3.0 on the ph scale and then move into the small intestine to continue the digestive process.
8 Key Things that Happen When There Isn’t Enough Stomach Acid:
1. The fats, carbs and proteins cannot break down properly for the body to utilize them. The food will then sit, petrify, become rancid and/or ferment.
2. The body can’t absorb or utilize the nutrients in your food such as zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, selenium, etc.
3. Overgrowth of harmful bacteria can occur which can lead to ulcers and cancer.
4. Because the contents of the stomach aren’t acidic enough, the stomach doesn’t want to release the contents of the stomach into the small intestine (see below).
5. When the contents of the stomach reach the small intestine, the gallbladder isn’t signaled to release bile, the pancreas isn’t signaled to release pancreatic enzymes and sodium bicarbonate isn’t released to increase the ph of the digested food.
6. Because sodium bicarbonate isn’t released, the mixture of food can burn the mucosal lining which lead can lead to ulcers.
7. The proteins that weren’t broken down by proper stomach acid now irritate the villi and can lead to leaky gut. A leaky gut allows fats and proteins to pass through the gut directly into the bloodstream which overwhelms the immune system.
8. The undigested food heads to the large intestine and can degenerate and weaken the colon, disrupt the flora, and cause inflammation, IBS and colitis.
If We Need So Much Stomach Acid, Then What Causes Reflux and Heartburn?
When there isn’t enough stomach acid, the pyloric sphincter – the valve that releases the broken-down food into the small intestine – doesn’t want to open. This leads to food sitting in the stomach for much longer than intended. Eventually the food tends to come back up the other way. Ironically, because the food has been bathed in some stomach acid it burns when it comes back up the esophagus.
So, you’re probably asking, “then why do acid-blockers work, or at least take the burn away”? The acid blockers lower the acidity in the stomach, so when the food starts to come back up, it doesn’t burn. This doesn’t mean the problem is fixed. The acid-blocker is simply masking the symptoms of a bigger issue.
4 Ways to Reverse Low Stomach Acid:
- Don’t eat when you’re stressed or on the go and eat slowly. This is the most important piece of the puzzle. When you eat slowly and aren’t stressed, your body will be in the parasympathetic state, which is the body’s “rest, digest and heal” function. The parasympathetic state allows your body to release the correct amount of stomach acid, enzymes, etc. to digest your food.
- Take 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a little bit of water before each meal.
- Take 1 dropper full of digestive bitters before and after each meal.
- Consider taking HCl with Pepsin at each meal. See the directions at the bottom of this article for the dosage. So remember, you need stomach acid! Eat slowly, in a relaxed state and consider some of the remedies I mentioned above – I think you’ll start seeing some great results.
Sara Louise Hodgson