Food Freedom Friday Edition 170 - Your Missing Link

Are you missing a vital supplement to your nutritional protocol?

Have you ever wondered why some people rave about how much improvement they've noticed from their herbs or other supplements while you sit and wait for changes that never come? 

One possibility is that you have a lack of stomach acid. Stomach acid is needed for the proper absorption of nutrients - proteins, vitamins and minerals and indirectly of fats as well. 

What's so great about stomach acid?

Hydrochloric acid or stomach acid is essential to digestion, to gallbladder function  and to optimal health.  Optimal stomach acid levels are vital for keeping the rest of the digestive process (everything that happens in the stomach and beyond) working at their best levels:

HCl helps to digest protein by activating the protein-digesting enzyme pepsin. And even if you take supplemental pepsin, it needs an acid environment created by HCl in order to work properly. So if you're living on antacids or acid-blockers, your protein is not being fully digested.  And if you can't break down your protein, the vitamins and minerals attached to the protein molecule are not available for your body to use.

Stomach acid then helps to break down vitamins and minerals from the food into absorbable particles. This is especially so for calcium and iron which cannot be utilized without HCl.

HCl helps to activate other digestive juices and enzymes including bile and pancreatic enzymes which aid in digestion of fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

Stomach acid is second in the line of defense after saliva for protecting against foreign invaders such as worms and parasites and other little nasties that can cause food poisoning.

But what if I have too much acid?  Doesn't too much stomach acid cause my heartburn?

It is somewhat unusual to have too much acid but common to have a deficiency. Heartburn is more often caused by putrefying food resulting from lack of digestive acid and enzymes allowing the food to rot. This causes an acid, but a different acid than HCl. They can feel the same. For example, if you experience digestive discomfort just after a meal, later on you could wake in the night with a feeling of too much acid. This overproduction of acid later on can be associated with low stomach acid as well as too much. Try supplemental Betaine HCl for a few days and watch to see if these symptoms subside.  They should gradually decrease.   

If you have an ulcer or gastritis you should not take supplemental stomach acid support until the inflammation has been healed. Try taking either mastic gum or a combination of zinc and L-carnitine, which supports the healing of the intestinal/stomach lining but does not compromise optimal digestion like antacids do.   

If you are afraid to try supplemental acid or have reservations at all, try taking 1-2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar in 1/8 - ¼ cup of water immediately after a meal.  If it doesn't bother you, the Betaine Hcl probably won't either but you want to be comfortable with your decision to before you jump in. 

Look over the list of signs of deficiency on the website and the list of associated conditions. 

Signs of Deficient Stomach Acid

  • Gas, bloating and burping shortly after a meal could be lack of HCl

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

  • Feeling of fullness or food not digesting

  • Heartburn and/or gastric reflux (sometimes too much HCl but most often not enough)

  • Bad breath

  • Foul smelling stools

  • Loose stools in the early morning

  • Food allergies

  • Dialated blood vessels on the cheeks and nose - Rosacea

  • Pernicious anemia or iron deficiency

  • Anal Itching

  • Nausea especially after taking vitamins and minerals

  • Weak or cracked nails

  • Parasites - or at least increased susceptibility to parasitic infections

  • Chronic yeast infections

  • Acne in adults - especially if you have other symptoms from the list

  • Asthma

And mull it over.  For example, if you have anemia and are finding that supplemental iron is not making a difference, you should be taking HCl in order to absorb it.  If you have a low functioning thyroid, you'll see that hypothyroidism  contributes to low contractability of the gallbladder which can contribute to biliary dyskinesia, cholestasis and gallstone formation.

 Gas, bloating and burping shortly after a meal, besides lack of bile, could be lack of HCl. And stomach acid in any case, is one of the prompts that signals the gallbladder to contract, so indirectly it relates to bile excretion and contributes to fat digestion. So if you're living on proton pump inhibitors or antacids, it's affecting your gallbladder emptying. HCl contributes to gallbladder function. Constipation or diarrhea, feeling of fullness or not digesting food can be attributed to a deficiency of HCl as well. Do you see the similarity and connection of deficient stomach acid with gallbladder diseases? Hydrochloric acid is a key player.

There are many other fascinating and unusual symptoms like weak or cracked nails, anal itching, chronic yeast infections, and loss of brain function such as inability to handle stress.

Risk Factors and Causes of Low Stomach Acid

  • Allergies

  • Anemia

  • Adrenal fatigue

  • Alcohol

  • Atrophic gastritis

  • Heartburn

  • Gerd

  • IBS

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Hives

  • Candida and other Yeast

  • Bacterial Dysbiosis or infections in the Gut

  • Adult acne

  • Eczema

  • Alchohol consumption

  • H. plylori infection

  • Stress even in children

  • Age. HCl production decreases wtih age

  • Diseases Associated with Low HCl

  • Asthma

  • Diabetes

  • Osteoporosis

  • Arthritis

  • Hepatitis

  • Eczema

  • Acne rosacea

  • Dry Skin

  • Psoriasis

  • Parasites

  • Gallbladder disease

  • Herpes

  • Hives

  • Hypothyroid

  • Hyperthyroid

  • Thyrotoxicosis

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • Lupus erythematosus

  • Myasthenia gravis

  • Pernicious anemia

  • Celiac disease

  • Sjogren 's Syndrome

Interestingly, even though you might experience indigestion or some form of digestive discomfort just after a meal with low stomach acid, later on you could experience a feeling of too much acidity and wake in the night from this as well. This overproduction of acid later on can still be associated with low stomach acid. Try supplemental HCl for a few days and watch to see if these symptoms subside. They should gradually decrease.

How to Increase Your Own HCl

  • Bitter greens like kale, collards, beet greens, arugula, etc. may help to encourage the release of your own stomach acid. Lemon, olive oil and ginger help as well. Try adding some ginger to The Beet Recipe, but only if you are in maintenance mode with your gallbladder and no longer in pain. Spicy ginger could upset the balance if you haven't been pain-free for at least a couple of months.

  • Zinc and Thiamine B1 are necessary components in the manufacturing of stomach acid. Beet greens contain both. So does Nutritional Yeast. Food sources of zinc include collard, chard, pumpkins seeds, figs and wild salmon. Thiamine B1 is found in brown rice, spinach and peas.

Does this sound like you but you feel lost or overwhlemed when it comes to what to do? I can help - contact me and lets chat.


Michal Ofer