Why do we need stomach acid?

What is stomach acid?

Optimal stomach acid is needed to break down and absorb the nutrients from the food we eat. Stomach acid is secreted by the cells in the stomach wall. We need stomach acid top break down proteins and enhance nutrient absorption. It is also needed for activation of pancreatic juices. Gastric acid plays role as a defender against ingested microbes and pathogens. There are factors that can increase or decrease our gastric juices. Protein, fat, caffeine, milk, chewing gum can increase it for example. Ageing, some drugs such as antacids, autoimmune gastritis, chronic stress, H. Pylori infection and vitamin deficiencies can decrease it.

Signs of low stomach acid

  • bloating, belching and flatulence
  • feeling of fullness after meal
  • constipation
  • diarrhoea
  • iron deficiency
  • nausea after taking supplements
  • smelly stools

If you are regularly experiencing one or more of those symptoms, it isn’t normal! Left untreated, low stomach acid can lead to inability of the stomach to break down the food properly. This can cause condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth SIBO. This is a health condition, where bacteria proliferate in the small intestine and cause symptoms.

Reduced gastric acid could also lead compromised levels of the vitamin B12, which is very important vitamin for the entire body.

How to test stomach acid levels?

There is one very cheap test to do at home, if you wanted to find out your stomach acid levels. This is called “burp test”. You put 1/2 tea spoon of bicarbonate soda in 100ml first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Drink it and if you burp in the first or second minute, it means your gastric acid levels are good. This is a good indicator of where we are at. I do often ask my clients to take the test so we know how much support is needed. Of course, everything is individual. Depending on the symptoms, we prioritise and work on the specific part of the body, supporting entire organism.

Nutrients to optimise stomach acid

Apple cider vinegar before each meal is great for this purpose. Bitter herbs and foods can help to activate stomach acids. Zn and B6 are very important nutrients for production of gastric juices. I would also recommend some betaine hydrochloride and pepsin supplements in some cases. Eating own and light meals is also highly recommended.

As I always say, please check with your health professional before you start any diet or program, or give me a quick call/message. I would be more than happy to help.