Are you one of those, who are feeling frequently symptoms like acid reflux, heartburn, burping, gas, bloating, or nausea after eating? Are blaming your stomach acid (HCL or hydrochloric acid) for these and taking antacid or acid suppressor to get relief from them? If you are then you are not only one? If you are suppressing such symptoms by taking acid blocker or antacid without addressing root cause of them you may in serious danger in the future. Remember acid reflux, heartburn, bloating, gas are only symptoms not the root cause. And treating symptoms without addressing root cause does not make you heal. If you are having those symptoms frequently, you very likely to have serious stomach issue. And here is our explanation about “Weak stomach acid and the relationship with heartburn, acid reflux, ulcer, what is the link?”
Are you one of them who think stomach acid is the culprit of above symptoms. Have you ever thought why our creator designed such high acid level in our stomach? What will happen to your body, when we go against our creator? Is high stomach acid really your enemy? Is high acid environment in your stomach actually cause you acidity or heartburn whatever is called? My answer is no, stomach acid is your friend not enemy. Then what goes wrong with your stomach, what causes you acidity, heartburn, peptic ulcer, stomach cancer whatever it would be? I have decided to bring this issue step by step in details along with information about the remedies? You will see the actually what happens.
Weak stomach acid and the relationship with heartburn, acid reflux, ulcer, what is the link?
If you have the above symptoms, have you ever tested stomach acid?
Here I am not talking about testing of acid level of esophagus (also called as oesophagus) which seats above the stomach. Testing higher acid level in esophagus and then taking acid neutralizer? Remember stomach is designed to take acid load not esophagus. A small acid goes to a wrong place can create many problems. And you start feeling above symptoms. When this situation becomes chronic it is called Gastroesophageal reflux disease or in short GERD. Why this happens? Does lowering the stomach acid level can cure you?
If you have weak stomach acid level i.e. high stomach ph value usually then you have a disease called Hypochlorhydria.
|Less than 3||Normal|
|3 to 5||Hypochlorhydria|
|Greater than 5||Achlorhydria|
Low ph indicates strong stomach acid and in the opposite way higher ph indicates weak acid level.
What causes GERD?
There is a gate called lower esophageal sphincter shortly LES in between upper portion of the stomach and lower part of the esophagus. LES opens when foods comes from esophagus to stomach and then closed in normal. It works in such a way that there is no reflux of stomach acid to esophagus in normal condition. When even a small amount of stomach acid or HCL reflux to esophagus through LES of lower esophageal sphincter, you will feel gas, acidity, bloating or heartburn. And thus stomach acid creates inflammation user lower part esophagus and damages inner lining of the esophagus. Yes stomach acid. And this can lead to a serious condition. And if you are always trying to neutralize your stomach acid with antacid or acid suppressor without addressing the root cause of reflux, will it give you a solution?
Some people believe that mechanical problem or muscle weakness of LES causes acid reflux. Holding upright after eating up to 2-3 hrs helps to avoid such symptoms.
Malnutrition and age related muscular degeneration can causes early aging, muscle weakness and other chronic disease. You can also read most common causes of chronic diseases and prevention.
There is other picture of GERD which relates with weak stomach acid.
What will happen if you have Hypochlorhydria or weak stomach acid?
Low stomach acid and abnormal stomach function can cause with vitamin B12 and folic acid malabsorption as well as iron deficiency anemia. Such condition also relate asthma and many other common chronic diseases as well as nutrition deficiency. All those are not possible to enter in a single article. We will show you how it happens one by one in our coming articles. Here our subject is acid reflux, gas, heartburn and stomach acid.
Science behind it
Weak stomach acid or high ph of stomach acid acid can create serious health problem including impairing digestion of protein and certain other nutrient including vitamins and minerals.
As per updated by Dr. Banoo H and Nusrat N, RAMA Univ. J. Med Science-Hydrochloric acid (HCL) secretion assists protein digestion by activating pepsinogen to pepsin, protects the stomach from orally-ingested pathogens, prevents bacterial or fungal overgrowth of the small intestine. Apart from these HCL also encourages the flow of bile and pancreatic enzymes, and facilitates the absorption of a variety of nutrients. Low stomach acid causes indigestion. And further using over-the-counter antacids can neutralize stomach acid and actually make our digestion worse. And thus such condition leads to malnutrition and mineral deficiencies.(1)
A University of Manchester study published in Cambridge Journal confirmed that hypochlorhydria or low stomach acid may predispose to malabsorption of nutrients or bacterial overgrowth further along the GI tract and common indigestion symptoms associated with aging.(2)
Additionally researcher found strong correlation of low stomach acid with increased infection caused by Helicobacter pylori. (3)Helicobacter Pylori can sustain even in high acidic environment and can cause chronic bacterial infection in stomach. Which can further causes gastritis, stomach ulcer, cancer and more. We will show you what helicobacter pylori can do to your body and how to eradicate it naturally in our coming article.
You can also read how weak stomach acid can cause iron deficiency anemia.
Over growth of bacteria
Your GI tract from mouth to anus is the body’s exposure to outside world. What you ingest comes through GI tract, body processes and absorbs necessary nutrients and excretes the rest in normal condition. Your stomach acid is body’s one first line defense to outside environments. It kills ingested bacteria, germs and other pathogen as well as protects your body in normal. It also kills harmful bacteria in your stomach as well as attached with ingested foods except helicobacter pylori. Know more about how helicobacter pylori cause infection in stomach as well as causing ulcer and in long term cancer. Good bacteria or microbata helps human body in many ways but bacteria is suppose to stay in colon not in stomach.
Low stomach acid can lead to over growth of bacteria including harmful in small intestine as well as lower part of stomach i.e. in duodenum. Undigested food inside your GI tract can cause fermentation of foods. Which can also creates hospitable environment to unwanted bacteria and other pathgens in stomach in combination of weak stomach acid.
Overgrowth of bacteria can lead to a toxic environment. They can steal nutrients from foods as well as such pathogens creates inflammation inside your stomach. And some bacteria release gas like carbon dioxide, hydrogen and in some cases methane which is one common symptom. When there is lots of gas it tends to open the valve between esophagus and stomach called lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and push the putrefying food mass from acidic environment to esophagus. And as we mentioned earlier esophagus is not designed to take load of acid, you will experience burning symptoms and inflammation in your esophagus. If these symptoms become chronic, acid environment damages inner lining of esophagus.
This section we have further extended with how weak stomach acid can lead to impair secretion of pancreatic enzyme. And further lead to malabsorption of nutrients including carbohydrate and protein fermentation as well as bacterial overgrowth.
Acid neutralizer, Antacid, proton pump inhibitor and other acid blocker
“Treating gastroesophageal reflux disease with profound acid inhibition will never be ideal because acid secretion is not the primary underlying defect”- Drs. Kenneth McColl and Derek Gillen of the Division of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow. Published in the medical journal, Gastroenterology, June, 2009.(4)
If you are continuously taking antacid or other acid suppressor then you are impairing your digestive system and making your body vulnerable to many diseases in near future or long terms. That we will discuss later. Physician may prescribe acid suppressor under certain condition. But many people are using those antacids or acid suppressors as over the counter drug and unknowingly killing their own health. Marketer of such antacid will tell you about temporary relief of acidity/heartburn but they will not tell you that it can impair your digestion and making you prone to some common diseases in near future.
Human body is designed to have an alkaline body and strong acidic stomach.
Take home message
As per Jonathan V. Wright, MD, Author of “Why Stomach Acid is Good for You” and founder of Tahoma Clinic, states “Since 1976, I’ve checked literally thousands of individuals complaining of “heartburn” and indigestion for stomach acid production using a commercially available, extremely precise, research-verified procedure. Overacidity is almost never found, especially in those over age 35. The usual findings are underacidity (from “just a little under” to no acid at all) or normal acidity, in which case the indigestion symptoms are caused by something else. The majority have underacidity (as might be expected in a no-longer-young stomach) and I advise them to take capsules containing hydrochloric acid and pepsin with each meal. The supplemental hydrochloric acid and pepsin not only relieve the symptoms but actually improve digestion.”(5)
I hope the above information will shed some light in between the common belief and Weak stomach acid and the relationship with heartburn, acid reflux, ulcer, what is the link. You can restore your stomach acid easily by supplementing with Betaine HCL Pepsin if you are tested low stomach acid. Low stomach acid can be checked with heidelberg test. Betaine HCL restores stomach acid as well as kills bacteria and other pathogens. And pepsin the enzyme aids digestion of protein as weak or low HCL impairs protein digestion. Betaine HCL Pepsin is usually safe and can be taken with the early part of the meal.
One thing I wish to mention that individual with stomach infection or having ulcer, strong HCL secretion due to HCL supplementation may make it worse. So it is safer curing infections or ulcer or relevant complications of stomach in first stage, then individual may go to restore HCL with Betaine HCL Pepsin if tested low. It is always safer to test with a very small quantity to see response of the body. One food or supplement giving a very good result to one may not give the same result to an another. So, always listen to your own body. Remember one size doesn’t fit all. You should apply under guidance of proper knowledgeable physician.
You can also read 6 hidden causes of acid reflux and heartburn, natural remedies
Other factor you should consider:
Avoid gluten and other foods which is allergic to you
Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine cause inflammation inside the stomach. You should better avoid such things.
Avoid food that is hard to digest
Put your nutrition to optimum level
Be upright up to 2-3 hrs after eating food
One tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar or lemon juice with one glass of water may also help.
Taking small amount of bitter food 10-15 min. before meal help to stimulate digestive juice.
People may have varying experience to the same food depending upon health condition, allergic reaction to a particular food. So, it is safer to test with a small dose.
And hold, stomach issue does not end here. Weak stomach is not only the single cause of acidity, heartburn, ulcer, stomach cancer or some other related chronic diseases. We will discuss all covering causes and related factors along with natural remedies in our coming articles.
Disclaimer: Information provided here are generalized information for informational and entertainment purpose only, not intended to provide one to one health consultation or replace practice of a qualified practitioner. Different people may have different health condition and may have different reaction to the same food. Hence it has been advised to consult with health care provider before application of any of above information
Source & references: 1.“Implications of Low Stomach Acid: An Update”, Dr. Banoo H1 and Nusrat N2, RAMA Univ. J. Med Sci 2016; 2(2): 16- 26 2.Ageing and the gut,Edward Britton and John T. McLaughlin Cambridge University Press, Volume 72, Issue 1,February 2013 , pp. 173-177 3.Assessment of gastric acidity of Japanese subjects over the last 15 years,Morihara M1, Aoyagi N, Kaniwa N, Kojima S, Ogata H,Biol Pharm Bull. 2001 Mar;24(3):313-5. 4.Evidence That Proton-Pump Inhibitor Therapy Induces the Symptoms it Is Used to Treat,Drs. Kenneth McColl and Derek Gillen of the Division of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow. Published in the medical journal, Gastroenterology, June, 2009 5.Jonathan Wright, MD, The Digestive Theory of Aging, Part I, http://www.tahoma-clinic.com/aging.shtml