You know that our stomachs contain acid that allows us to digest food. One of these digestive acids is hydrochloric acid. What you may not know is that when hydrochloric acid is low you don’t absorb nutrients as well and you can’t breakdown proteins effectively. Proper acid balance in our stomachs keeps the bad microorganisms at bay. Hypochlorhydria is a conditions in which the production of hydrochloric acid in the digestive juices of the stomach are low.
Some things that contribute to hypochlorhydria include:
- Repeated use of medications that affect gastric acid levels, including antacids, 0ver long periods of time
- Chronic and or frequent helicobacter pylori (H-pylori) infection
- People with pernicious anemia or certain autoimmune diseases
- Prior gastric bypass surgery
Hypochlorydia has been found to increase with age. Read on to find out if your stomach acid is off and what you may do about it. Some of the symptoms of hypochlorhydria include: diarrhea, constipation, bloating, weight loss, weight gain that shows up as distention of the abdomen, abdominal discomfort, acid reflux. Inability to absorb certain nutrients may also bring on symptoms that are less obviously associated with hypochlorydia including, weak limbs, poor memory, moodiness, numbness and tingling in the in the fingers or limbs.
Answer the following questions to determine if the acid balance in your stomach is off.
- I have or had iron deficiency anemia.
- My hair is brittle, fine and weak.
- My fingernails are brittle, weak or they contain ridges or they peel.
- I have or have a history of constipation and or diarrhea.
- I have bad breath a lot.
- I feel bloated, gassy and I belch after I eat.
- I have a big appetite even though I may not really be hungry.
- I feel full for a long time after I eat.
- When I eat my food feels like its just sitting in my stomach or I feel uncomfortable after I eat.
- I feel like I’m aging even though I take care of myself by eating well and exercising.
- My skin tends to be dry , flaky or thin.
- I have a vitiligo, autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, adrenal fatigue, bacteria overgrowth, candida yeast infection, food allergies
- I have a had or have of one or more of the following conditions: acne, eczema, rosacea, broken capillaries around nose or on cheeks, psoriasis, vitiligo, autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, adrenal fatigue, bacteria overgrowth, candida yeast infection, food allergies
If you answered yes to the majority of these or at least two relating to digestion, you could very well have deficient stomach acids. Some studies have shown (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8568113) that drug treatment for hypochlohydria may change the stomach ph but not malabsorption. Therefore a nutritional approach is called for. You should schedule an appointment with your practitioner for further evaluation and a treatment plan, however in the mean time you find relief from:
- Taking a good probiotic
- Drinking ginger tea
- Chewing your food more
- Taking a good multivitamin
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Eat a whole foods balanced diet