Updated: Jan 22
The Importance of Stomach Acid
Hippocrates stated nearly 2500 years ago, “All disease starts in the gut”
We are only as healthy as the food we can digest. Lack of stomach acid gives harmful bacteria the perfect environment to grow. Stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) and the lack of it will bring about nutrient deficiencies, chronic stress, and digestive issues. (1) When harmful bacteria increase, you don't break down food, and you don't produce vitamins, essential minerals, or macro-nutrients. When good bacteria have dwindled, our immune system grows weak. The damaging bacteria become colonized, causing gas, migraines, candida, parasites, constipation, reflux, indigestion, dry skin, hair loss, and no energy.
“The food we ingest controls insulin properly and hopefully gets distributed to vital organs, muscles, and tissues but must pass through the gut first. If this environment is hostile, even good clean food becomes an invader, and our immune system kicks in. Inflammation is present and becomes constant as your body is always defending against these poor choices or the overabundance of harmful bacteria.”
Our liver is responsible for breaking down estrogen to pass through the GI tract and ultimately leave our bodies. The health of our gut flora also determines excess estrogen or lack of estrogen. Overgrowth of harmful bacteria causes estrogen receptors to bring it (old estrogen) back into the body resulting in estrogen dominance. Conversely, a lack of estrogen could bring about PCOS, endometriosis, infertility, and thyroid issues. (7)
As we age, our microbiome (gut flora) changes. Other factors contributing to low stomach acid are meds, namely acid blockers being one of the biggest offenders. Autoimmune disease also affects the cells that produce acid, and diet, specifically the standard American diet, contributes to deficiencies like B-12 and zinc. (5)
Variety with food is vital, as your microbiome (your overall good gut flora) needs the diversity to tolerate food. Beyond tired and feeling horrible? Food sensitives, leaky gut, autoimmune, hormonal issues, chronic illness, and a fragile immune system are what becomes of your stomach when there is not enough acid.
What causes low stomach acid? To name a few;
prescription (just a week of meds can throw off our gut flora) and anti-acid drugs (PPI's)
eating too quickly
excessive exercise (3)
Gerd, indigestion, and acid reflux happen when there isn't enough stomach acid to break down food; therefore, the food rots and creates an over-acidic environment. The perfect setting for this harmful bacteria to thrive. The rest of your body becomes compromised. Over-the-counter PPIs are only a band-aid. The root cause needs your attention and dedication. (4)
Protein intake (and the conversion of essential amino acids) and its breakdown happen in the stomach. Without proper hydrochloric acid, reflux occurs. Most people have inadequate stomach acid because of stressors, both physical and environmental.
So, how do we do this? How do we get enough stomach acid and digestive enzymes to break down food? How do we build up the lack of vital hydrochloric acid so desperately by most? Eat real food and support the body's microbiome. Think of your microbiome as the army of soldiers defending your precious gut lining and keeping harmony within. It must become a well-oiled machine to work correctly.
eat real food
chew your food
warm lemon water in the morning
celery juice on an empty stomach (one of the best ways to replenish mineral salts supporting hydrochloric acid production) (6)
HCL (Betaine Hydrochloride) therapy (functional medical practitioner)
eliminate or cut down on processed foods
pay attention to sensitivity reactions
no stress (2)
When you achieve a better balance of stomach acid, absorbing real food's proper nutrients is possible. The importance of stomach acid, good gut flora, PH levels, blood sugar, and insulin orchestrate our precious hormones. A physician or functional medical professional and regular blood work to evaluate blood marker levels will help monitor how much better absorption becomes appropriate for balance and harmony.
(7) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23259758/ https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306987712001703