One of the most critical gastric juices to ensure optimal gut health is Stomach Acid. Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is produced by parietal cells in the lining of the stomach (pepsin from goblet cells). It is required to denature proteins & isolate/prepare nutrients for absorption.
However, many people have suboptimal stomach acid due to various reasons: age, poor eating hygiene, sympathetic nervous system state, hypothyroid state, hypoadrenal state, SIBO or other dysbiosis (antibiotics), chronic use of NSAIDs, H Pylori infection, autoimmune antibodies, and, also, acid-suppressing medication (ie. PPIs,H2 receptor blockers,antihistamines). Taking too many mineral supplements with a meal can create an overly alkaline environment, insufficient for optimal digestion. Excessive bicarbonate intake (e.g. baking soda) can also naturally restrain HCl production .
Low stomach acid can cause: slowed gastric emptying (promoting GERD, bloating, etc.) and downstream digestion. Poor protein digestion and absorption (and thus, potentially, sensitivities/allergies. Nutrient deficiencies, especially B12, Minerals (Ca, Fe, Zn, Mg), Folate . Furthermore, Hypochlorhydria is a key contributor to downstream dis-ease dynamics e.g. Ulcers, Osteoporosis, Low energy, Indigestion, Depression, Anemia, Weak immune system, Dysbiosis, Food Sensitivity, Allergy, Auto-immune disease, Cardiovascular inflammation, Arthritis, Cognitive impairment.
How do you know if you have suboptimal stomach acid? Look for the signs!:
• Frequent daily belching
• Upper GI bloating, belching, and/or an early sense of satiety during or right after meals
• Feeling nauseated after taking supplements with food (except zinc which may promote nausea on its own or except when limited to excessive calcium/magnesium at once)
• Clearly seeing undigested food in stools
• Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or SIBO or frequent gut infection or microbial imbalance (e.g. candida, parasite)
• Feeling particularly fatigued after meals (especially if meal was otherwise consumed slowly)
• Insufficient levels of Vitamin B12 despite eating a carnivorous diet
• Hair or nails that break frequently or are thin.
• Chronic allergy or urticaria
• Multiple mineral deficiencies despite a whole foods diet (e.g. iron, zinc, magnesium, chromium, copper)
• Rosacea, Osteoporosis or advanced osteopenia
• Multiple food allergies or sensitivities
• Chronic asthma, especially if wheezing is also involved
• Chronic indigestion or GERD
If you have any of these symptoms, your doctor and/or health coach will be able to assess whether you need supplementation and lifestyle changes to help you restore optimal levels.
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