By Dr. Erin Stefanacci
Back in 2018, we shared in a blog about low stomach acid. Low stomach acid scientifically known as hypochlorhydria, is extremely prevalent in developed nations, including the U.S. Some practitioners believe that 90% of Americas have low stomach acid! Therefore, it is likely impacting at least one person you know.
When someone has low stomach acid, bacteria is able to grow in the stomach, both good and bad. Ultimately, the bad bacteria build-up can lead to some tricky health problems such as H.pylori and SIBO.
To learn more about how low stomach acid can affect your overall health, be sure the read the previous blog. Here we are going to prioritize how we holistically address this common health concern.
If you suspect you have low stomach acid, test yourself with a simple DIY HERE.
Now, how you address your low stomach acid depends on a couple of things. Most importantly, if you are on proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs reduce gastric acid (also referred to as hydrochloric acid) by inhibiting the parietal cells from producing it. Common PPIs you may know by name are Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium. People on PPIs may have low stomach acid before even taking these medications and end up with nearly zero acid after use. So, if you are on PPIs, the healing approach has to start by coming off of them.
If you are on PPIs:
PPIs are only intended to be used for 14 days, yet many people take them long term. Coming off of them needs to be an intentional and gradual process. A ‘flare up’ may happen from your body reacting to the new acid that is naturally returning. This may seem like a negative symptom, but it is temporary and necessary to restore your stomach to its optimal pH.
The cells in your stomach after taking PPIs may already be angry and stimulating acid on a terrain that hasn’t been acidic for months or years is likely to be painful. Your body will adapt to the new terrain in time. Once you are off the PPIs, we can move on to bringing stomach pH to a healthy level.
If you are not on PPIs:
You can have low stomach acid and not be on PPIs. If this is you, or if you are weaned off PPIs, here are some ways to restore your stomach acid levels:
1. Mix ½ teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar in 2 oz water and take in the middle of larger meals. Start with one meal and if needed, increase to three meals gradually.
2. Chew more! Digestion starts in your mouth, not in your stomach. Some people who eat quickly will have indigestion because your stomach has to work harder to digest your food. When your stomach has to work harder, this results in less stomach acid. Also, chewing stimulates acid production. So, slow down and savor each and every bite. Your stomach will thank you!
3. Eat fermented foods! Sauerkraut is a great addition to your diet, regardless if you have low stomach acid or not. Why? Because it contains probiotics! Probiotics are good bacteria that help your gut fight off bad bacteria and other potential toxins. Why is sauerkraut better than taking a probiotic supplement? Because it is made through a fermentation process during which microorganisms digest the vegetables’ natural sugars and convert them into carbon dioxide and organic acids, allowing your body to stimulate stomach acid naturally and ultimately creating a happy environment in your belly. The sauerkraut options available to us now are endless and flavorful. If you are local to Asheville, our two favorite brands are Serotonin Ferments and Fermenti.
Take Action Now
If you have low stomach acid, NOW is the time to fix it! Outside of the discomfort, pain, and other symptoms you may be experiencing, there are many other deficiencies your body can experience by this one vital piece of health being out of balance. Some of these deficiencies can hide until they develop into something bigger.
If you suspect you have low stomach acid or have been using PPIs over an extended period of time, schedule your FREE 15-minute health strategy session to learn how together, you and Dr. Stefanacci can restore and optimize your health today!
**Reminder: This is an educational article that does not constitute medical advice. It is always recommended to speak with your healthcare provider before implementing any of the above recommendations, especially if you have pre-existing conditions or are taking medications.