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  • Writer's pictureAmie Butler

Stomach acid and good digestion

Stomach acid is an important mechanism which helps to digest the food we eat.

The secretion of your stomach acid is regulated by the hormonal and nervous system1. Chemical digestion takes place in the stomach where food mixes with gastric juices (Hydrocholic Acid), water and enzymes which help to break down and unravel the structure of proteins in your food1,2.

Low Stomach Acid Hypochlorhydria

Low stomach acid can cause poor digestion which can lead to malnourishment and nutrient and mineral deficiencies1,2. It can also contribute to inflammation of the gut, microbial overgrowth and can elevate our stress hormones.

Symptoms include:

Bloating/Belching/Flatulence after meals

A sense of fullness/ Nausea after eating/Indigestion/ Diarrhoea or constipation/ Food allergies/Rosacea/dry skin/ Weak, cracked or peeling nails/Iron deficiency/Undigested food in the stool/Candida infections/Iron deficiency/B12 deficiency

What can cause low stomach acid?

Poor Diet (High intake of refined and processed foods)/ Not chewing food properly/Protein Pump Inhibitors/H Pylori Infection/Aging/Stress/Overuse of antibiotics/Alcohol/fizzy drinks

How Nutritional therapy can help?

  • Fermented foods/drinks (saucerkraut, kombucha)

  • Digestive bitters such as watercress, kale chicory, dandelion, radishes

  • Swedish bitters

  • Drink a mixture of raw apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Start the day with a cup of warm water, add the juice of a lemon and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. If the apple cider vinegar makes you feel nauseous, start with a couple of teaspoons and increase gradually. The apple cider needs to be raw and unpasteurised. This mixture, despite being acidic, alkalises the body while acidifying the stomach.

  • Avoid alcohol

  • Chew thoroughly

  • Avoid drinking water 20 minutes before or after eating

  • Reduce the intake of processed or refined foods.

  • Increase your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables 2/3 portions every meal time.

  • Eat mindfully, do not eat when stressed.

  • Drink ginger tea or a small piece of ginger between meals to stimulate stomach acid.

A fun test to try at home to determine stomach acid levels is to take ¼ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in ¼ cup of water and drink it on an empty stomach. As the stomach acid reacts with the bicarb gases are released and you should burb within a few minutes. If there is little or no reaction you may have low stomach acid2.

This test is not an accurate assessment of low stomach acid but may help to determine if you have stomach acid insufficiency.

1.Greiber, G. (2018). CHRONIC DIGESTIVE DISORDERS. Leicester: TROUBADOR Publishing.

2.. Beirne, A. and Nicolle, L. (2010). Biochemical imbalances in disease. London: Singing Dragon.


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