We've all had that feeling. Whatever you ate is now trying to eat you back. You reach for some pink goo, or a chalky powder tab...but did you ever think of trying vinegar?
Are you crazy woman?
As part of one of my hats that I wear, I get "Wellness Articles" to spread within the community, and I recently got one on Heartburn that frankly, got my panties in a bunch.
"Heartburn and acid regurgitation are common. They happen when food in the stomach backs up into the esophagus (the food pipe that leads from the mouth to the stomach).
This is often referred to as reflux or GERD (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease). It is uncomfortable and over time, it may damage the esophagus lining. It often occurs because the circular muscle that connects the food pipe and stomach is too relaxed and stays open after meals. Other contributors to heartburn include smoking, being overweight, alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, some medicines and stress.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are medicines commonly used to treat reflux. They are acid blockers. They decrease the amount of acid that the stomach makes, which lessens reflux symptoms.
Heartburn can also be reduced without medication by avoiding triggers (such as coffee, alcohol, and spicy foods), avoiding food two to three hours before bedtime, and losing weight.
Ok, yes, this can be true, in some cases. The first response is usually a PPI which will reduce stomach acid. But, here me out. What if you have too little stomach acid to begin with?
It's actually more common than you think.
An under active stomach does not produce enough hydrochloric acid (HCl) and enzymes for the proper digestion of food. Pepsin, the enzyme responsible for the digestion of protein, is only activated in the presence of HCl in the stomach. HCl, secreted by parietal cells in the stomach, converts pepsinogen into pepsin (breakdown of protein) and activates intrinsic factor.
After stomach empties, cells in duodenum lining respond to acid trigger (secretin and cholycystokinin) to release pancreatin and bile. Under-activity therefore decreases secretions through the common bile duct and the pancreatic duct. Result: maldigestion, since low HCl means low pepsin, intrinsic factor, pancreatin and bile, and therefore low protein, fat- soluble nutrients and minerals.
The symptoms of an under active stomach can sometimes be confused with those of an overactive stomach, leading to the use of antacids, which of course aggravate the condition.
Are you following me yet?
Food will digest in the absence of HCl by a fermentation process. When the food empties into the duodenum, it is low acid. This causes low bile and pancreatin, causing the food to stay acidic during the fermentation process. There are acid wastes from this. This is very damaging as it passes through the remainder of the digestive tract. It is these acids that cause the condition of excess acid, but it is not excess HCl.
Because low stomach acid leads to decreased digestion, food can begin to ferment and cause bloating and start pushing through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), causing acid reflux.
What causes low stomach acid?
a diet high in meat (particularly red meat) and dairy products, refined and processed foods, and fast foods
drinking chlorinated water or ice-cold water or carbonated beverages
larger, heavier meals
low salt intake
use of antacids
Coffee consumption and nicotine speeds transit and empties the stomach too quickly.
Microwaving protein foods alters the constituents enough that they cannot be assimilated.
The production of HCl in the stomach naturally decreases with age, so the condition is more common in people over 40. It is very possible, however, to encounter young people, even children, with under active stomachs when their diets contain too much junk food or they are sensitive children living in unhappy home environments and internalizing the turmoil.
Stress is an emotional factor that also contributes to under active stomach.
What are some subsequent effects of low stomach acid?
poor absorption of all minerals including calcium, magnesium, chromium, iodine, iron, manganese, potassium, selenium and zinc. Protein requires sufficient HCl to metabolize. Minerals need to be bathed in the bile triggered by the HCl to be assimilated in the small intestine.
leaky gut, gas and bloating
burning sensation in stomach, heartburn
heavy, tired feeling after eating
stools poorly formed, pale, greasy, floating
undigested food particles in stools (corn doesn't count!)
ridges on fingernails, slow growing nails
acid/bile sterilizes—In their absence, parasites can take hold.
An under active stomach will affect the proper functioning of the colon, leading to constipation.
Allergies are also linked with under active stomach. It is not uncommon to experience effective relief of minor allergies by stimulating the production of digestive enzymes.
The entire endocrine system can be affected by an under active stomach, as HCl is integral to protein digestion and the product of this digestion is a major component of all hormones.
Low HCl will also affect all biochemical reactions as amino acids are the building blocks of ALL enzymes.
Low HCl will also affect the immune system as antibodies are protein based, as are the hemoglobin cells that carry oxygen to the tissues.
So, if you're on a PPI (especially long term), you can see how by reducing stomach acid that is already low, you're creating a perfect shit storm in your body - you are unable to do the simplest act of digestion!
I have to stress, this DOES NOT REPLACE WHAT YOUR DOCTOR TELLS YOU, but it can arm you with some information to bring to your next appointment.
How can you test to see if low stomach acid is your problem?
First way, next time you have symptoms, swallow a tablespoon of vinegar. If this alleviates or partially alleviates the symptoms, you are suffering from low acid and a dysfunctional marriage between liver and stomach. Attention to the liver is needed in addition to HCl help. If symptoms are aggravated, then too much acid is present. A glass of milk or 8 oz. of water mixed with 4 tsps. of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) will neutralize the problem.
Second, by an experiment we call the Burp Test.
8 oz. glass of water (250mL)
250 mL measuring cup
On waking, on an empty stomach, take teaspoon baking soda and mix with 250 mL water in a glass. Drink entire glass. Time how long it takes you to burp.
Measure on 3-4 separate days.
<15 seconds: lax LES
1-3 minutes: Sufficient stomach acid production
3-5 minutes: Inconclusive
>5 minutes: Insufficient stomach acid production
Ok, so it seems I have low stomach acid. Now what?
Some simple things really...
Don't eat until you are stuffed, eat until you are no longer hungry. Try avoiding red meat, dairy products, convenience food and alcohol; this will ease the digestion process. Also avoid caffeine around food - it promotes the dumping of food into the intestines prematurely.
Drinking too much with meals, especially ice-cold or carbonated drinks, will shut down the digestion process. Small sips of room temperature water taken during the meal is ideal.
The state of mind of the person at mealtime will affect digestion. Eating when rushed or upset should be avoided.
CHEW YOUR FOOD.
We are the only species that continues to do the things that make us feel like shit - and just take a pill so we can continue with the destructive behavior. Finding out why you feel like you do may not be the quick and easy way out, but trust me, it's worth it.
If you're tired of feeling like crap, and are ready to listen to what your body is trying to tell you through it's symptoms, book a free consult call.
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