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The stomach acid paradox...

Updated: May 9, 2022

I have explained this so many times to clients and friends in the past week that I just have to write it down as a reference now. If you have burning after or in-between meals or acid reflux, DON'T take acid blockers, it's the worst you can do!!!!!

Stay away from acid blockers they make everything worse

Let me explain: what happens when you're eating: your stomach will produce acid to digest and break down the food you are consuming. Once the acid level is acidic enough (1.5-3pH), your pancreas get's a signal that it's time to prepare for the mix of food coming and will release bicarbonate to neutralize the acidic mass coming down. This is how the pyloric sphincter opens to let the food mass down to the pancreas, where it gets further broken down etc.

Now, if you're constantly eating on the run, while standing up, reading emails while eating and/or just being stressed in general, your stomach will not produce sufficient acid. There are other causes like zinc or Vitamin B12 deficiency that will impair stomach acid production.

Acid reflux, burping, gas, burning sensation, sense of excess fullness are all signs of too low stomach acid

So what happens if your stomach is not producing enough acid, your food will sit in your stomach and start to ferment and putrefy. This is creating gas and will cause you to burp, feel uneasy, too full. Eventually, the acidic mass will be pushed up, as it cannot go down (remember: pyloric sphincter won't open) and once it touches your esophagus wall, it will burn you! The mass is still acidic, even if the problem here is that you're not having enough stomach acid, but your esophagus wall is not made to support these kind of acid levels. Imagine pouring caustic soda over your hands, that's also not an enjoyable experience!

Now you're getting the picture: if you are taking an acid blocker, it will definitely make you feel better as it will immediately get rid of the acid in your stomach. But your digestion problem will remain and even get worse as now that you're taking anti-acids, you will not be able to manage without them anymore, because your digestion will actually get worse and worse. You will not be able to eat much anymore, but most importantly, you will start lacking a lot of nutrients and feel tired all the time. The lack of nutrients will not only affect your overall mood and form, but imbalance your hormones as well.

But that's not all: our stomach acid is also one of the most important lines of defense to kill off bacteria and parasites that we're ingesting with our food. These guys will actually start a party and proliferate. This is how you will get pathogen (the bad bacteria) overgrowth that will cause you a whole lot of other digestive distress and pain.

There's one very specific bacteria that approximately 70% of the population are struggling with: Helicobacter Pylori, or H. Pylori for short. H. Pylori is a bacterium that lives in everyone’s stomach. While it’s a normal and natural part of the stomach environment, when it proliferates it can cause a whole host of symptoms and further problems: from something as mild as low-grade heartburn or nausea to much more serious issues such as gastric ulcers and even cancer. H. Pylori thrives in an alkaline environment and damages our acid-producing parietal cells that line the stomach, essentially creating a cozy little home for itself. When the cells that secrete hydrochloric acid aren’t able to produce the required acid, the pH in the stomach increases and H. Pylori can proliferate further. So you see it's a vicious cycle: when you have long-term stress and your stomach acid is low, h.pylori can proliferate and then it will damage your acid-producing cells and further lower your stomach acid production.

And there's even more: your stomach acid is essential for breaking down the protein you consume into amino acids (and those we need for hormone production and muscle building amongst others), but it's also essential for absorbing your minerals like calcium, zinc, magnesium for instance. This is why it's especially important for women to watch out for this, as women have a higher risk of osteoporosis and are also usually not lifting much weight (which is essential for calcium production and hence bone health). Also, women tend to be more stressed and when being stressed, the body is using up lots of magnesium and then your stomach acid is depleted too, so you'll be deficient in magnesium and are getting high blood pressure, chocolate cravings .... ok but that's another topic)

So stay away from the acid blockers and fix the root cause of your problem!

Signs for too low stomach acid:

  • burning sensation after or in-between meals

  • burping

  • sense of excess fullness

  • gas

  • cramping or stomach pain

  • undigested food in stool

  • chipping or soft fingernails

  • rosacea

  • fatigue

How to fix it? Honestly, if you are suffering from any of these symptoms, I would highly recommend you seek out a professional (like me or someone else you trust ;-)) to help you, as this is something you cannot trial & error at home. You can book a free strategy session with me here.

Here are some safe remedies I can recommend though:

  • sit down when you eat and chew thoroughly

  • if you have burning: start first with a cure of Aloe vera gel or juice to calm down the inflammation : take 1 TBSP before each meal

  • apple cider vinegar will stimulate the production of gastric juices. Take 1 TBSP before each meal (straight or in water). Don't do this if you already have severe burning !

  • supplement with zinc if you suspect being deficient

I hope I could enlighten you with this, please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions !


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