Did You Know Low Stomach Acid – Hypochlorhydria May Be Causing Your Health Problem?
If you’re suffering from bloating, gas, indigestion, and frequently even heartburn, you may have insufficient stomach acid. Officially called hydrochloric acid, this compound is essential to digest protein into the building blocks of muscles, tissues, and even your genetic material—amino acids. Stomach acid also helps ensure the proper absorption of other critical nutrients, including: niacin, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin C, beta carotene, magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium.
As we age, hydrochloric acid tends to become depleted. Additionally, it is reduced by eating complex meals (that’s most meals), excessive eating, and high protein intake. And if you have a sluggish thyroid gland you may be prone to insufficient hydrochloric acid.
Not only can hypochlorhydria (as it is officially called) result in nutritional deficiencies it can cause fatigue, insufficient pancreatic digestive enzymes, and food allergies. But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some of the symptoms associated with low stomach acid. Don’t forget to check out my article 12 Ways to Supercharge Your Digestion to discover ways to restore stomach acid and other digestion tips.
Some symptoms and conditions associated with low stomach acid:
Dilated capillaries in the cheeks and nose (in non-alcoholics)
Distention after eating
Fingernails that are weak, peeling, and cracked
Hair loss in women
Multiple food allergies
Nausea after taking supplements
Sore or burning tongue
Vitiligo (skin disorder involving white patches)
At-Home Test for Low Stomach Acid
Testing your HCl levels is easy. The following is an excerpt from Dr. Joseph Debe and I couldn’t say it better.
For this test you will need some baking soda. The purpose of this test is to give us a rough indication as to whether your stomach is producing adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid.
Hydrochloric acid is important for digestion and absorption of many nutrients. When hydrochloric acid is lacking, (a condition termed hypochlorhydria) malnutrition results. At the same time, one can develop multiple food sensitivities as abnormally large, inadequately digested food particles are absorbed, triggering an immune response. Also, because hydrochloric acid kills many bacteria, yeasts, and parasites, its insufficiency is associated with greater incidence of dysbiosis. (gastrointestinal infection) Hypochlorhydria is linked to not only gastrointestinal symptoms (including belching, gas, indigestion, poor appetite, prolonged fullness after meals, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea), but also to autoimmune diseases and degenerative diseases of all kinds. It is a major contributor to chronic unwellness that is under-appreciated. Although hypochlohydria can occur at any age, older individuals are especially effected. Some estimates suggest half of individuals over age 65 have inadequate stomach acid.
To perform this test: mix one quarter teaspoon of baking soda in eight ounces of cold water, first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything except water. Drink the baking soda solution. Time how long it takes to belch. Time up to five minutes. If you have not belched within five minutes stop timing anyway.
If your stomach is producing adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid you should probably belch within two to three minutes. Early and repeated belching may be due to excessive stomach acid. Belching results from the acid and baking soda reacting to form carbon dioxide gas. The Heidelberg or Gastrocap tests can be employed for confirmation of the results of this test.