Stomach Acid - Do you have enough?

Having strong acid in your stomach is critical for in turn for optimal health. But what does it actually do for us?

Stomach acid helps to:

  1. Break down protein for absorption in the small intestine

  2. Kill off harmful bacteria and other pathogens in our food from entering our body

  3. Activate certain nutrients for absorption, especially B12

  4. Trigger other key digestive processes to help break down our food to absorbable nutrients

With the increase in stress, decrease in certain nutrients in our diets and the common use of antacids, many are suffering from low stomach acid. From the list above, it is easy to see that this can explain the rise in mood issues, imbalances in the microbiome, nutrient deficiencies and digestive complaints such as bloating, nausea etc.

Getting our stomach acid levels at peak levels is really important.

When looking to optimise stomach acid levels, best to consider:

  1. Looking at the dietary intake of chloride - such as foods like seaweed, celery, olives and tomatoes - as we need chloride to make stomach acid

  2. Starting with some digestive bitters to provide gentle stimulation of the digestion system - especially for those that have an already sensitive gut

  3. Apple cider vinegar or hydrochloric acid supplements with main meals.

Apple cider vinegar and hydrochloric acid supplements may be best avoided by those suffering from reflux or GORD, those with a stomach ulcer, those taking antacids or proton pump inhibitors or H2 blockers such as Nexium or those with sensitive digestive systems. Digestive bitters are a gentler approach without exacerbating these other issues. Warning, they are named quite appropriately, they are really bitter. Really bitter!!

The use of bitters is a temporary measure - the real work, and therefore sustainable benefit, is to understand why you are not producing enough stomach acid. Always good to find the root cause of an issue whilst you use temporary measures to help you feel better sooner and longer!

Sara Knight