Hypochlorhydria, or low stomach acid, is a commonly overlooked problem that is linked to other diseases like stomach cancer, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. It's a problem that needs to be investigated as it can also lead and contribute to various skin conditions such as Acne, Eczema, Rosacea, Urticaria and Dermatitis. It you are having symptoms such as acid reflux, heartburn, burping, gas, bloating, or nausea, after eating then it's very likely that you have a potential stomach acid issue.
People who are diagnosed with gastrointestinal issues, especially Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Celliac Disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) are at a higher risk of having stomach acid problems. If you've made several diet and lifestyle changes and you're still not seeing the results you want, low stomach acid might be holding you back.
Frequently Asked Questions
- 1Why is appropriate levels of stomach acid required?
- 2Why is proper stomach acid vital for perfect digestion?
- 3What are typical signs that you may be suffering from low stomach acid?
- 4What other skin conditions can become more apparent when the body has low stomach acid levels?
- 5How do we test for Low Stomach Acid at Health Renewal?
- 6Why does one need stomach acid ?
- 7Why do we test all our patients at Skin, Body & Health Renewal for Low stomach acid with Betaine HCl?
- 8What are the health ramifications of low stomach acid?
- 9What health problems can acid blocking drugs cause if they are taken indefinitely?
- 10Why should treatment of Dysbiosis be an important part of the treatment of above mentioned conditions?
- 11How would one recognize the symptoms of Dysbiosis?
- 12What dreaded diseases can nutrient malabsorption of Vit B12 deficiency result in?
- 13Why is Vit B 12 deficiency a silent killer and a hidden epidemic?
- 14Which diseases mimic the signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?
- 15What contra indications are there for the HCl challenge?
- 16How does one do the HCL and Pepsin challenge?
- 17What can one expect?
- 18How does one manage low stomach acid to prevent chronic disease down the line?
1) Proper levels of stomach acid is needed to allow the body to adequately absorb various nutrients, which include: iron, copper, zinc, calcium, vitamin B12, folic acid & proteins.
2) Stomach acid forms a crucial part of the immune system. When the body has optimum levels of stomach acid it acts as a barrier to quickly kill bacteria and bugs that enter the body. It also prevents bacteria in the intestines from migrating up and colonizing the stomach.
The above two factors are crucial as proper nutrient absorption and functioning immune system are vital to total health.
After ingesting food, the downstream process from the stomach is controlled chiefly by pH changes. When the food (chyme) in your stomach reaches a pH of about 2-4, the valve at the bottom of the stomach (pyloric sphincter) starts to slowly release the stomach contents into the duodenum. From here, the pH raises up and down as it travels through the intestines and out the other end.
If the pH is wrong from the beginning (i.e. too low), all processes going forward from the small intestine to the large intestine will likely be compromised. Chewing your food is the first crucial step to perfect digestion and stomach acid is the next most important.
Low stomach acid can cause diarrhea just as fast as it can cause constipation so don’t think that it’s only confined to one or the other. If you have any digestive problems at all, this is one problem you must rule out or you may never unlock total health.
People diagnosed with gastrointestinal issues, especially inflammatory bowel diseases, Celiac Disease or IBS, are at a higher risk of having low stomach acid. If you’ve made several diet and lifestyle changes and you’re still not seeing the results you want, low stomach acid might be holding you back. Many people have low stomach acid because they are taking acid blocking drugs for longer than the maximum of 6 weeks.
1) You don't feel good when you eat meat. When eating meat leaves you feeling bad, sluggish or even nauseous, it can mean that your body does not have the ability to digest these proteins. More stomach acid is required to be able to sufficiently break down the protein structure and absorb the nutrients in the food.
2) You experience frequent acid reflux after eating. Insufficient stomach acid leads to a host of conditions that encourage the increase in intra-abdominal pressure (IAP). As IAP increases it pushes against the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When this happens the LES opens (because of the increased pressure) and even a microscopic amount of acid touching the inside of your esophagus it can produce large amounts of pain and burning. This is because the esophagus is not protected like the stomach from high acid levels.
3) You Burp, Fart, or get bloated after eating.
You are likely suffering from low stomach acid levels when you experience the following symptoms after eating:
- Several burps shortly after finishing eating, or burps later that taste and smell bad
- Gas for 1-2 hours
- Becoming bloated, which can last for a few hours
- Have a heavy feeling in your stomach, like you food is just sitting there.
Whilst topical products might assist in improving these conditions a holistic approach needs to be followed to ensure the body is coping from the inside too and reduce flareups and further complications.
If the patient presents with symptoms of Low Stomach Acid the Integrative Doctor will do a simple bicarbonate of soda test. The test works by drinking bicarbonate of soda, mixed with water, and thus creating a chemical reaction in your stomach between the bicarbonate of soda and hydrochloric acid. The results is carbon dioxide, which leads to burping.
In theory, if your stomach is producing adequate amounts of stomach acid you’ll likely belch within two to three minutes. Early and repeated belching may be due to excessive stomach acid (but don’t confuse these burps with small little burps from swallowing air when drinking the solution). Any belching after 3 minutes indicates a low acid level.
Because the time frames can vary person-to-person, as well as how they drink the solution, this test is only a good indicator that you might want to do more testing to determine your stomach acid. This test serves only as a guideline and further investigation might be needed when the results are considered with the patient's other medical history and information.
Appropriate stomach acid levels are crucial for our immune system & for adequate absorption of nutrients, both of which support total health. Adequate stomach acid is necessary to:
- absorb essential minerals and vitamins such as Zn, Mg, Ca, Fe, Folate and the B vitamins
- to digest the protein that we eat
- to stimulate the pancreas to secrete additional digestive enzymes for digestion
- to kill all the bacteria, fungi and parasites that we eat to prevent bacterial overgrowth (dysbiosis)
- 70 % of disease starts in the gut
- The gut is responsible for 70 % of one's IMMUNITY
- It's no coincidence that HIPPOCRATES stated 2000 years ago that "Death begins in the gut"
- The above could be caused by reduced (HYPOCHLORHYDRIA) or no stomach acid ACHLORHYDRIA
- Malabsorption of vitamins and minerals can lead to memory loss / Alzheimer's etc
DYSBIOSIS: Low stomach acid causes pathological bacteria, yeasts and parasites to populate our bowel which produce lipopolysaccahrides LPS which are toxic to the intestinal wall which can result in Leaky gut.
LEAKY GUT: If undigested protein gets into the gut instead of broken down compartments of protein called amino acids, this will affect the single layer gut wall of the intestines which will become permeable (leaky gut) and will allow lipopolysaccahrides LPS toxins and protein to enter our system. The liver cannot cope with the detoxification and the immune system becomes activated which results in immune DYSREGULATION.
IMMUNE DYSREGULATION: This will activate our immune system down the line with diseases such as thyroid (Hashimotos, Graves), Lupus, Rheumatoid, Psoriasis, etc. The incidence of cancers such as breast and colon also increases due to immune dysfunction.
SKIN CONDITIONS such as acne, melasma, rosacea, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, keratosis pilaris are all associated with low stomach acid and it's ramifications cations above inflammation from LPS being deposited in the skin.
ALZHEIMERS & BRIAN ATROPHY: deficiency of the B Vitamins is associated with Alzheimers and Parkinson's. Low Vitamin B 12 especially, is associated with progressive brain atrophy with rates of brain volume loss (517 % greater than those of higher levels of B 12). The results of the Framingham Offspring Study indicate that B12 deficiency may be more common than was previously believed. Deficiency is most significantly linked to improper absorption rather than low consumption, as many who consume high amounts of B12 may still experience deficiency
- Bacterial overgrowth (dysbiosis) - see explanation above
- Impaired nutrient absorption of Zn, Mg, Ca, Fe, Folate and the B vitamins especially B12
- Decreased resistance to infection (altered immunity)
- Increased risk of cancer and other diseases (altered immunity)
The majority of people living in our modern day world have some form of gut dysbiosis/ abnormal microbiota which will lead to chronic health problems.
Treating dysbiosis can help remove these unhealthy bacteria and yeast in the body which cause chronic internal inflammation, toxins and disease if they are not cleared out properly.
Removing these toxins from your body will help the lymph, gut, liver and kidneys perform their functions better.
Metabolic byproducts of the bad bacteria of dysbiosis are toxic and can create a wide variety of symptoms: Digestive complaints are the most common and include flatulence,
- abdominal distension
- intestinal pain & inflammation,
- constipation (not having a bowel motion at least once per day) and/ or diarrhea.
In fact, intestinal dysbiosis should be considered as a possible cause, or at least a contributing factor in patients who have cellulite, weight gain, chronic candidiasis, asthma, bronchitis, allergies, food allergies, unexplained fatigue, arthritis or neuropsychiatric symptoms such as depression, anxiety, autoimmune disorders, breast & colon cancer.
- cognitive decline
- memory loss (collectively referred to as “ageing”)
This is due to lack of knowledge regarding enzymes, digestion and absorption of Vitamins especially B12. Adequate stomach acid is essential for absorption of Vit B12 so next time you or someone you know is “having a senior moment”, remember: it might not be “just aging”. It could be B12 deficiency!
- Alzheimer’s, dementia, cognitive decline and memory loss (collectively referred to as “ageing”)
- Multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurological disorders
- Mental illness (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis)
- Cardiovascular disease
- Learning or developmental disorders in kids / Autism spectrum disorder
- Autoimmune disease and immune dysregulation which may lead to cancer
- Male and female infertility
- HCL should never be taken and this test should not be performed) by anyone who is also using any kind of anti-inflammatory medication such as corticosteroids (e.g. Prednisone) aspirin, Indocid, Voltaren, Celebrex, Ibuprofen (e.g. Myprodol, Advil, etc.) or other NSAIDS.
- Patients who have a history of an ulcer in the last 12 months or are on PPIs such as Nexiam, Topzole, Pantoloc or H 1 receptor blockers such as Zantac and Tagamet SHOULD NOT do the Betaine HCl test. These patients should be referred to our experienced Health Renewal FUNCTIONAL doctors for slow withdrawal of these antacid medications together with the initiation of gastric mucosa and gut mucosal repairing (the 4 R's of Gut Restoration) and functional medical evaluation.
- HCL should ALWAYS be taken WITH Betaine and pepsin
- To minimize side effects, take 2 x 325 mg tablets of Solgar Betaine HCL with pepsin OR
- 1x Metagest 650 mg tablet in the middle of a meal which contains PROTEIN (meat, fish, chicken)
If you have NO mild burning sensation after the meal with Betaine HCl supplementation, you may have low stomach acid and this must be sorted out by supplementing with Betaine HCl when eating protein meals. If you are unsure how to go about this, make an appointment with one of our experienced Health Renewal functional doctors who will start you on the 4 Rs of gut restoration
If you DO have a mild burning sensation after HCl supplementation, you may have adequate stomach acid. However, if you have ANY gut symptoms (IBS, GERD, constipation) its best you see one of our HR functional doctors to sort this out.
Supplemental HCl with Betaine should be initiated as soon as one has done the Betaine HCl challenge and there is no burning sensation. A consultation with our Health Renewal doctors will address this problem by implementing the 4 R gut restoration programme. In addition a thorough evaluation and assessment of your overall health will be ascertained. The 4 R gut restoration -http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6172/How-to-Heal-Yo...