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Stomach acid deficiency and its connection with heartburn and other conditions

When we have heartburn, we usually hear about drugs to neutralise stomach acid, but do we really have so much of it? It turns out that most people, contrary to popular belief, may have low levels of it in the stomach, what is associated with indigestion or heartburn.

There are many reasons why its proper level is very important, so it's worth taking a look at the role of hydrochloric acid:

- The acid in the stomach has a very low pH of 1.5-3, in such an acidic environment a few bacteria and other microbes can survive, therefore it protects us from getting to further parts of the digestive system and our body, it is our first line of defence!

- Hydrochloric acid helps break down food proteins into individual amino acids, helping them to be absorbed in the digestive process.

- It also signals the pancreas and liver to produce the appropriate digestive enzymes and bile needed for the further digestion of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

- It also helps in the absorption of iron, magnesium and calcium by releasing these ions from food and influences the absorption of vitamin B12 further in the digestive system. Research confirms that gastric acid deficiency can lower the mood (low vitamin B12), anemia (low vitamin B12, iron) or osteoporosis (calcium).

Low hydrochloric acid and heartburn. It would seem that only a very high level of acid causes a sudden attack of unpleasant heartburn and then we reach for appropriate remedies: proton pump inhibitors or stomach acid neutralisers. It turns out, however, that most often we have a too low level of acid, which means that food in the stomach is not digested properly and stays in it for too long, causing hydrochloric acid to pass to the upper part of the stomach and then to the oesophagus. Taking these drugs additionally lowers the level of the acid, unfortunately worsening the situation and leading to hypochlorhydria, and thus problems with digesting food, as well as deficiencies of vitamins and minerals described above.

What symptoms may we have?

- acid reflux / heartburn

- flatulence and overproduction of 'gases'

- 'bouncing'

- food allergies

- difficulty digesting meat and fatty foods

- no feeling of hunger after waking up

- overgrowth of bacteria and fungi in the intestines

- undigested food debris in the stool

Home test for low levels of hydrochloric acid

It is worth doing it more than once. Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in 150 ml of water and drink it immediately after waking up, count the time when the first 'bounce' appears. If:

<40 seconds - we have a high level of hydrochloric acid

40-180 seconds - suitable

> 180 seconds it is probably too low

This test is only illustrative and is not intended for diagnosis, but it is worth doing.

What can we do to increase hydrochloric acid levels and support our digestion from today?

1. fermented food- pickled cucumbers, pickled borscht, sauerkraut and probiotics - help our body increase the production of stomach acid

2. zinc - is a natural coenzyme for the production of stomach acid

3. Adequate long chewing of food signals the stomach to produce stomach acid cider vinegar (1 tablespoon) dissolved in half a glass of water consumed before a meal also helps digestion and improves gastric acid pH

5.Do not drink a lot of fluids with a meal, if you need to drink, choose warm foods, because cold ones weaken the production of stomach acid

6. Eat bitter-tasting foods, olive oil, arugula, dandelion leaves, and herbs: cumin, ginger, milk thistle, hops, and burdock which stimulate the production of digestive juices.

7. Adequate HCl supplementation under the supervision of a specialist, which helps restore the normal production of hydrochloric acid to normal, while with appropriate therapy supporting the health of the stomach and intestines.

8. Drink cabbage juice or celery juice on the empty stomach - they both have healing properties for the stomach lining and help stomach cells to heal and work better producing stomach acid.

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