By Anni Dahms
Owner of the retail chain
ANNI’s VITAL SHOP.
Nurse- & Health
specialist, Biopath and Nutritional Adviser.
Your stomach is aching. Maybe you think that you have high stomach (gastric) acid, so you take some medication for it. Perhaps it could be the complete opposite, that you have low gastric acid.
The reason behind your thinking that you could have high gastric acid, and the reason for you starting to take medicine for it, could be because when eating your food, you eat it so quickly that there’s not enough time to produce sufficient stomach acid. The flap between the oesophagus and the stomach is not shutting properly either. This is because it first closes in response to there being a sufficient amount of gastric acid in the stomach. In this way, a little bit of stomach acid can escape into the oesophagus and give you a burning sensation, which can then be confused with too much stomach acid.
The stomach has many tasks throughout our digestive process. I.a. it produces around 3 litres of gastric fluids per day.
Stomach acids important role
There are many types of cells, responsible for the production of various enzymes and other chemicals. Some cells called parietal cells produce hydrochloric acid (HCL). The hydrochloric acid necessary for the beginning of a good degradation of the food before it moves on to the small intestine, where food is absorbed. Hydrochloric acid is a disinfectant and kills the bacteria responsible for accelerating the fermentation and putrefaction. Furthermore, the HCL is responsible for destroying fungi, parasites and other harmful microorganisms.
The parietal cells also form intrinsic factor, which is necessary in order to absorb B12. If you have low gastric acid pay attention to whether you could have a B12 deficiency.
Reasons for low gastric acid
There’s a tendency to produce less stomach acid as we age.
In everyday stressful life it is easier to reduces gastric acid secretion, because we swallow food without chewing properly and get too much fast food as well as overeating sugary foods. Low gastric acid is unfortunate because you don’t absorb your food properly.
Low stomach acid can be hereditary.
If you suffer from back problems, it can also play a role in gastric acid deficiency. Long term wise, low gastric acid can also contribute to osteoporosis because the minerals are dependent on stomach acid.
Some medicines can also contribute to the gradual fall of stomach acid, e.g. antibiotics, anti-fungal agents and amphetamine.
The late A. Vogel, wrote in his book “The little doctor” that stomach cancer is often caused by lack of hydrochloric acid.
Symptoms of low gastric acid
• You can sense whether you have low gastric acid when e.g. you start avoiding steaks and choose lighter foods such as bread and salad instead.
• Another sign of deficient stomach acid could be if you feel comfortable with sour foods, e.g. apple juice, lemons, etc. but feel discomfort with milk and beer.
• If you belong to those who produce insufficient acid salt, then you may feel these symptoms after eating. You may well feel tired, burp a lot and feel heavy, bloated and uncomfortable, perhaps with smelly flatulence after you’ve eaten, especially if the meal contained protein. The symptoms tend to come about 15 minutes after eating.
• You often have bad breath and continue to taste what you have eaten. This is because it sits much too long in the stomach.
• Hair loss and jagged nails are also commonly seen symptoms.
• You may feel nausea when taking supplements.
• Both diarrhoea and constipation can be symptoms.
• You are more prone to infections.
• Other symptoms linked with low gastric acid can be candida, asthma, various types of allergies, psoriasis, acne and other skin problems, sleeping badly, anxiety and vitamin deficiency – especially vitamin B’s, calcium and magnesium, zinc, copper and manganese.
Minimise your alcohol intake, foods containing sugar and food/drink containing caffeine. Instead, drink herbal tea, the more bitter the better.
Avoid meals with melted cheese, as it’s very difficult to digest. Likewise, it may be beneficial to avoid other dairy products as these reduce stomach acid production.
Be careful with too much fried food. Wait until you are finished your meal before drinking. Without realising it, many use their beverage to wash their food down with.
Make it a habit to eat attentively, eat slowly and chew your food properly, preferably in a tranquil setting. Speak as little as possible while eating. You could listen to some relaxing music. Make sure nothing is missing before getting seated at the table. Having to get up and fetch this and that during the meal can be stressful. Finish your meal in a calm manner too. You will be surprised with the big, beneficial effect it has on your stomach acid production. Eating under stressful circumstances has negative affects, both for digestion and absorption of the food. This contributes to a bad intestinal flora and this can become a bad circle.
Before eating your regular meal, eat a bit of papaya, pineapple or kiwi. Eat this about 20 minutes before your actual meal. They are filled with enzymes that are good for your digestive system.
Try drinking a little lemon juice in a glass of water, it strengthens your stomach acid. Cranberry juice and black currant juice are also good.
For a bit of luxury, have a glass of white wine while you enjoy preparing your food. White wine increases stomach acid production. You may also like to grab a little bitter snaps. Bitter vegetables stimulate your digestion, e.g. celery and artichoke. When making a salad, use plenty of the bitter salad leaves rucola.
Ginger is also good for your digestion. Apple cider vinegar is good at improving digestive juices. Take two teaspoonfuls in a glass of water daily, and sweeten it with a little honey.
Molkosan 1-2 teaspoons in a glass of water. This works amazingly at regulating both high and low stomach acid.
Another good idea is to drink a cup of peppermint tea, as it aids digestion.
• Some people experience an improvement when they separate consummation of carbohydrates and protein.
• Eat small meals frequently instead of heavy large meals.
• A daily walk of 30 minutes aids your digestion.
• It may be a very good idea to pay a visit to the chiropractor or crania sacral therapist. They can check to see if your spine is balanced or if it requires correction.
• Deficient stomach acid is often associated with low self-esteems, inferiority complexes, and where it is forbidden to be angry. When anger is shut off and swallowed, the stomach acid production will also close down.
• Many, most often women around my age have excelled in the “nice club”. I can remember back to when I was a child. The biggest compliment was when my mother told me that Mrs this or that had said that I was an obedient, polite and quiet child.
• Now, I don’t mean that we should turn on fight-mode and shout all our hidden anger out. However, it can be a good idea to be aware of being too nice, and to practice being able to be yourself. We should dare to say our opinion or to say no, when we feel it is right. It may be a good idea with a few psychotherapist sessions.
• Zone therapy and acupuncture can help to correct imbalances.
• It can also do wonders to seek out a good nutritional therapist. He/she can help you go deeper into the cause as well as helping with dietary adaptation.
• If you suffer from recurrent abdominal pain then go to a good doctor, instead of trying to fix the problem by trial and error with e.g. different antacid agents. It’s not just a matter of reflux and discomfort. If the condition of too little stomach acid is not treated properly, it can eventually cause many serious problems.
• If you have low gastric acid, it can help to take a capsule of betaine hydrochloride with main meals.
• There are digestive enzymes containing betaine hydrochloride available.
• Take 10-20 drops of peppermint before meals. If you feel bloated after your meal, you can also take 10-20 drops after the meal.
• Probiotics are healthy stomach/intestinal bacteria that help with regulating your digestion.
• Niacin (Vitamin B3) promotes the production of gastric acid.
• Rose hip powder is beneficial for many things. In addition to helping with joint pain, it is also excellent with low gastric acid problems.
• You can stimulate gastric acid production with various spices. These can be taken as capsules, e.g. ginger, chilli, cayenne.