Stomach acid - a topic you think wouldn't be too interesting, but let me tell you - I think a lack in stomach acid is at the root of most peoples' digestive ailments. Yes, I said a lack of stomach acid, not too much!
In conventional medicine, we are told that we all have too much stomach acid, and that we need to suppress it by taking medication that will lower our stomach acid and fix our problems. There's just one problem - this is the exact opposite of what we are supposed to do!
In order to digest food properly, we need adequate levels of stomach acid. If we don't have enough, food isn't broken down properly, which can lead to a host of issues. Usually, the food stays in our stomach longer than necessary and begins to ferment. The gas that rises is acidic (because there is some level of acidity in our stomach even if we don't have enough stomach acid) and that acidic gas interacts with our esophagus, which we feel as heartburn or indigestion. So, we take acid-reducing pills to try and fix the problem. However, this "fix" is just treating the symptoms, not the root cause!
Not enough stomach acid can also interfere with the body's ability to break down food properly and assimilate the nutrients from those foods as well. When you see undigested food in your stool, this is a sign of low stomach acid. Overtime, chronically not absorbing enough nutrients from the foods you are eating leads to nutrient deficiencies.
Other symptoms of low stomach acid include feeling full quickly, bloating, and belching after meals. Basically, if you have trouble with digestion, low stomach acid might be the problem!
Why is our stomach acid low? Besides our overuse of acid-lowering medications, stress, hurried eating, gut infections, too much exercise, and a diet rich in crappy processed foods all have an effect on our stomach acid. Stress is the most important of these factors, however. Stress also harms our gut lining, reduces our ability to digest food in general, and keeps our body from properly absorbing nutrients. Basically, if you are stressed out and eating while you are stressed regularly, your stomach acid and digestive system are probably taking a hit!
If you think that low stomach acid might be at the root cause of your digestive aliments, you have a couple of options.
First, you can add apple cider vinegar and/or lemon juice to your water or take the two as a shot in the mornings (through a straw preferably) to help slowly increase your stomach acid levels. I do this about four times per week.
The other method is to take stomach acid in pill form, otherwise known as Betaine HCl, with each meal that contains protein. I also do this with every meal daily! I had stopped taking it for a while, but recently added it back in and noticed a huge difference almost immediately! NOW Foods brand is my favorite. However, do NOT take Betaine HCl if take NSAIDs (anti-inflammatories) on a regular basis, as NSAIDs harm your gut lining and make an environment in the gut that doesn't pair well with HCl.
It's funny how in conventional medicine the focus is on treating the symptoms. But when you take a step back and get to the root cause of the problem, you might find that there is a simple solution, like in the case of low stomach acid.