The stomach is probably the most misunderstood organ in the body. If you’ve ever experienced heartburn you’re probably thinking the stomach is just too acidic and causing the discomfort. The truth is heartburn is not caused by stomach acid but rather from mal-digested foods that backflow into the esophagus. It’s a combo of food along with some stomach juices and the esophagus wasn’t meant for the acidic substance so it burns – consequently heartburn.
The stomach is all about the acid. The normal pH of stomach acid is from 1.5-3.0 and when there’s not enough acid in the stomach, carbohydrates ferment (and not in a good way), proteins will putrefy, and fats will rancidify. Sounds awesome, right?
The use of antacids and acid blockers raise the pH (acidic value) of the contents of the stomach to neutral and guess what, your digestion was just messed up. Now you have opportunist organisms like bacteria, yeast, viruses, parasites, etc. to feed on the mal-digested foods that will continue to head south where additional dysfunction can occur.
If you don’t believe me here is a small experiment you can try at home. A fellow practitioner did this experience at an elementary school to educate the kids about the importance of healthy digestion and the kids were totally fascinated with the result of grossness.
- Make 1 extra portion at dinner, meat, potatoes, veggies, desert
- Throw it in the blender
- Add ½ cup of water.
- Spit in it (yes, I said spit in it)
- Blend it up
- Find someplace warm to set it (98.6 degrees)
- See how long it takes to get disgusting.
The outcome from this experiment is what happens to the food in your stomach if you’re not producing enough stomach acid.
Digestion is a north to south process. Dysfunction begins in the brain. As a culture, we’re stressing our sympathetic nervous system. To digest our food, our parasympathetic nervous system needs to be in a chilled-out state, meaning slowing down, taking time to enjoy our food, chewing well and just RELAX while you eat.
If you don’t take time to properly chew your food (~30 seconds) the brain doesn’t get the message to trigger the proper digestive process. The production of saliva isn’t triggered. A quick minute on saliva…. saliva is a complex mixture of electrolytes, hormones, and enzymes. Salivary amylase (an enzyme, that converts starch and glycogen into simple sugars) begins the chemical breakdown of starches. If this enzyme isn’t secreted, the breakdown of carbohydrates doesn’t begin. The pancreatic enzyme amylase cannot complete the breakdown of starch in the small intestine leaving undigested starch entering the colon.
And guess what? All this feeds candida creating general dysfunction further down the digestive tract.
So, what happens if you don’t produce enough stomach acid? Our first line of defense against yeast, bacteria, virus, parasites is gone. When stomach pH is correct pepsin digests these microorganisms…essentially, they become food. When the pH is not correct, an environment is created in which these organisms thrive and raise havoc on the GI tract.
How do you correct low stomach acid? I’m glad you asked. Drinking lemon water when you wake up will kick start the production of stomach acid. Also, taking a high quality HCI (hydrochloric acid) supplement with meals with the caveat it needs to be taken properly to be effective and to avoid discomfort. I suggest reading Why Stomach Acid is Good for You – Natural Relief from Indigestion, Reflux & GERD by Johnathan V. Write, M.D. and Lane Lenard, Ph.D.
Proper digestion is the pathway to amazing health. All illness can be traced back to dysfunction in our digestion. As I mentioned digestion is a north to south process and it all starts in the brain with the sight and smell to start the salivary glands producing the enzymes for when the food hits our tongue. We all know where digestion ends up. There is so much that happens in between that effect our other foundations or health pillars. Those being blood sugar regulation, mineral balance, fatty acids balance and hydration. All these foundations or pillars of health sit on a properly prepared, nutrient dense diet.
I’d love to hear from you to see where you are in your stomach acid journey. You can comment below or shoot me an email at Pat@PutOldOnHold.com
Pat Garner holds certifications in Professional, Addiction & Recovery Coaching, is a Sedona Method Facilitator and a Certified Canfield Success Principles Trainer. Most recently, a number of her articles on addiction and wellness have been featured by the World Coaching Institute. She has earned the reputation as a dedicated leader and advocate of change.
During her own journey from addiction fifteen years ago, Pat discovered the world of holistic health and wellness that led to her adopt and promote a ketogenic lifestyle that has become an integral part of her mission to awaken people to their infinite potential so they can achieve lasting personal success in all areas of life. Pat invites reader comments and questions. Pat@PutOldonHoldJournal.com