The gut is where the wellness movement is at right now. I’ve talked extensively about my gut health obsession here, here and here. So today, a gut health post with a focus on stomach acid. And why you need to boost it, especially if you suffer from autoimmune disease. This is the new direction in this realm, people. And I unofficially dedicate this post to my mate Rick.
A lot of us suffer from low stomach acid. (It’s almost a certainty if you have autoimmune disease.) Conventionally, if you suffer from heartburn or acid reflux these symptoms are usually treated with drugs that suppress production of stomach acid. But if your system is already depleted…well, you can see how things start to get tricky.
I’ve called on my e-mate Katie, high priestess of Wellness Mama, to share why you may actually need more stomach acid rather than less… and how to go about getting it (you can read her post in full on her blog).
Signs you have low stomach acid
Stomach acid or hydrochloric acid (HCL) is important for digestion and nutrient assimilation. Having too little stomach acid can cause just as many problems (if not more) than having too much.
Symptoms like constipation, diarrhoea, undigested food in stool, acid reflux, gas, bloating, indigestion, belching, skin problems or acne, and chronic nutrient deficiencies can be a sign of low stomach acid.
In more extreme cases, symptoms like hair loss, brittle nails, dry skin, adrenal fatigue and even autoimmune disease can occur.
Why we should boost our stomach acid
1. Stomach acid is essential for absorption of nutrients B12, magnesium, calcium, iron, folate and zinc.
2. It’s essential for proper digestion of food. It helps break down all the foods we eat. Undigested food in the gut can lead to leaky gut syndrome, which in turn, can lead to autoimmune disease.
3. It works as a barrier against pathogens. An acidic environment in the digestive system is crucial for immune system function.
4. It stimulates the pancreas and intestines. Which produces the bile and enzymes needed to break down our food.
5. It’s needed to break protein into vital amino acids. These are essential for hormone support, neurotransmitters and healthy skin, hair and nails.
6. It provides the adrenals with the nutrients they need to function properly. [Crucial if you have AI. – Sarah] Nutrient deficiencies and undigested food in the body can raise cortisol levels and deplete the adrenals.
7. It maintains the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. [Again, crucial if you have AI. – Sarah]
Here’s how to boost stomach acid, naturally
1. Eat mindfully. Don’t eat when you’re feeling stressed or upset, as stress can lower HCL levels. Calm down and focus on your meal. [It’s a different approach, but if you’d like to read more I’ve written about mindful eating before. – Sarah]
2. Consume a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in water about 30 minutes before meals. The ACV will kick in and do the job of the missing acid.
3. Consume high quality animal proteins and vegetables. A nutrient-dense diet is necessary for the production of stomach acid.
4. Avoid processed, sugary and deep fried foods. A nutrient-poor diet can deplete stomach acid.
5. Use a high quality salt to taste. [I’ll be sharing more on why good salt is crucial in the next few weeks. – Sarah]
6. Chew your food well. This will make it easier to digest.
7. Save your drink for after you’ve eaten. Don’t drink with meals. Especially cold water.
8. Add 1/4 cup of homemade or unpasteurized sauerkraut to each meal to stimulate stomach acid production. [Feel free to make my homemade sauerkraut. – Sarah]
9. Drink ginger tea or chew a piece of ginger between meals to stimulate stomach acid production.
10. Allow a few hours for digestion between dinner and sleep.
11. If you’re taking antibiotics or prescription drugs, make sure you support your digestive system. (Take probiotics to replenish the bugs in your gut, for example.)
Do you suffer from symptoms of low stomach acid? What are your best tips and tricks?