You’re just not hungry in the morning, you get sick often and can’t seem to get better, you have an aversion to red meat or seafood, and maybe you get heartburn or bloated from time to time. All common, but not normal.
The digestive complaints like gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea are like the direct arrows pointing to what needs to be fixed. It’s your body’s obvious way of telling you that something is off. We think of these issues going right back to the gut and digestive health, so we know that we need to work on our gut and digestion. Other symptoms, on the other hand, are also linked to digestion but not so obvious. The following list below all have one thing in common – they could be a result of not having enough stomach acid. You will see things like heartburn and acid reflux actually mean have suppressed levels of stomach acid, rather than the conventional misinformation of too much stomach acid. This is why acid reflux medicines are actually making the issue worse, even though they provide a temporary “solution”.
As yourself if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Belching, bloating or gas within one hour of eating
- Food allergies
- Chronic fatigue
- Heartburn or acid reflux
- Bad breath
- Loss of taste for meat
- Sweat with strong odor
- Stomach upset by taking vitamins
- Sense of excess fullness after meals
- Feeling like skipping breakfast or not eating
- Fingernails chip, peel or break easily
- Anemia unresponsive to iron
- Stomach pains or cramps
- Diarrhea shortly after meals
- Undigested food in stool
- Skin issues of any kind
- Autoimmune disease
These are complaints that I come across with my clients often, mentioned casually and brushed off with no thought as to why it’s happening in the first place.
“Oh yeah I’m just not really hungry in the morning” or “Yeah my doctor said I’m low in iron or B12″….
Which brings me back the connection between all of these common yet not normal symptoms.
These are all symptoms indicating that you are suffering from low stomach acid. Think of digestion as a north to south process – starting in the brain, then mouth, then stomach – which is why it’s important to think about your food and really chew your food to produce an acidic environment to break down the food properly.
Proper levels of stomach acid is essential for so many reasons.
- It helps break down proteins. Proteins break down into amino acids, and amino acids are essential to make neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters, like serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, are the things that make us happy, sleepy, excited, and feeling good. This also demonstrates the connection between what we eat and our mood. Amino acids also build mucles, so the simple more protein stronger muscles thing is real.
- It chelates minerals, and increases absorption of vitamins. For example, B12 is typically bound to animal proteins and requires stomach acid and pepsin to separate the vitamin molecule from the protein, in order to be absorbed.
- It kills pathogenic bacteria & parasites. Think of it as your first line of defense for incoming toxins. People with an alkaline stomach acid may be susceptible to bacterial infections, or more simply just an imbalance of bacteria.
- Proper acidity from stomach acid sends off our food at the proper pH to trigger the rest of our digestion, involving the gallbladder, pancreas, & small intestine (hormones, enzymes, etc) and more.
Further more, low stomach acid can lead to other chronic issues that build up over time. There’s a reason things get worse with age, stress, etc. And just as it comes on gradually, it also takes time to get it better again. What all can low stomach acid (and malabsorption in general) lead to?
- Poor protein digestion
- Food sitting in the stomach too long (proteins putrefying, fats rancidifying, carbs fermenting)
- Bloating, gas, and IBS symptoms
- H. Pylori infection
- Lack of mineral chelation
- B vitamin deficiency
- Higher susceptibility to food poisoning & parasites
- Gut dysbiosis
- Pancreatic and gallbladder dysfunction
- Leaky gut
So, if you have any of these symptoms, try to figure out if low stomach acid and poor digestion could be the culprit. The very first hting you can start doing (going back to treating digestion as a north to south process) is sit, breath, and think about the food you are about to eat. From there, when you sit and start to eat, really chew your food and break it all down. It can be the healthiest food (whatever that means) but if you’re only taking 3 bites, swallowing, or completely distracted in conversation or the TV, it won’t break down properly.
Other resources and references:
- The Real Cause of Acid Reflux + What to Do About It – Dr Will Cole
- Heartburn and GERD – Integrative Brain and Body
- Why Stomach Acid is Good for You by John Wright
- Interview with Dr. Michael Ruscio on reflux
If you want to talk further about your digestive issues or any of these other common complaints, you can schedule a free 20 minute consultation with me here. Or, come over to my Private group Real Health & Nutriiton for Women so we can connect more there!