Digestive Health Series Part 2: Stomach Acid

Hello again everyone:

As we continue this series, we will answer several questions: what does stomach acid do for us; what are the signs or symptoms that it may be low; what causes low stomach acid.

What does stomach acid do for us? Adequate stomach acid is essential for multiple functions: digestion of protein; absorption of minerals and especially iron, zinc and magnesium; absorption of vitamins, especially B-12; a first layer of defense against infection as the acid kills pathogens; assists in breaking down food to small particles which lowers the risk of food allergies (also known as loss of oral tolerance). When stomach acid is low, it can cause the lower esophageal sphincter muscle to relax and allow acid to go into the esophagus and cause heartburn and/or reflux. Also, when acid is low, food will literally rot…and this can happen incredibly fast. Proteins will putrefy, carbohydrates will ferment, and fats can go rancid…leading to a very nasty situation as they rise up into the esophagus and cause uncomfortable bloating.

Symptoms such as heartburn, reflux, gas, pain, bloating, loose stools or constipation, digestive discomfort, burping or belching, bad breath, hair loss, intestinal infections, nausea with taking supplements, undigested food in the stool, upset stomach as well as links to skin problems, auto-immune conditions like psoriasis, allergies, anemia, asthma and more.

The above are all signs and symptoms of low acid, and if you were to consult with your primary care physician with those symptoms, you would most likely receive a prescription for an acid blocker. Unfortunately, if you have low stomach acid like most of us, this will only compound the problem as it does nothing for the underlying problems that caused the issue in the first place.

Causes or risk factors:

Here are some of the more common ones: age (sorry); stress; diet; auto-immune family history or personal history or auto-immune disorder(s); a diet low in zinc; gut infection; history of stomach surgery; some medications; food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances, especially gluten issues

Bottom Line: You can see how stomach acid can play a role in many conditions. In the next newsletter, I will go over what you can try at home. See you next week!

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