Apr 03 2017

LCKL 068 – Ask Naturopath Jen – Digestion – Acid Reflux and Hypochlorydia (Repeat Episode 014)

As part of the Digestion Series I have re-recorded Episode #14 of the Podcast on Acid Reflux and Hypochlorydia.

  • All About Stomach Acid;
  • Causes of Low Stomach Acid;
  • Signs and Symptoms of Hypochlorydia;
  • Conditions Caused by or Aggravated By Low Stomach Acid;
  • Testing For Low Stomach Acid;
  • How to increase your Stomach Acid Naturally; and
  • One Research Article regarding Stomach Acid.
All About Stomach AcidCauses of Low Stomach AcidSigns and Symptoms of HypochlorydiaConditions Caused or Aggravated By Low Stomach AcidTesting For Low Stomach AcidHow To Increase Your Stomach Acid NaturallyResearch Article
  • It is produced by the cells in the lining of the stomach which increases acid production when needed.
  • Other cells in the stomach will produce bicarbonate which helps to buffer the fluid, stopping the stomach from becoming too acidic.
  • These cells will also produce mucus which forms a viscous physical barrier to prevent gastric acid from damaging the stomach.
  • A typical adult stomach will secrete 1.5 Liters of Gastric Acid Per Day.
  • Gastric Acid Secretion happens in 3 stages:
    • Cephalic Phase – 30% is stimulated by anticipation of eating and smell or taste of food. At this point the vagus nerve will perform a few different functions:
      • Activates parietal cells to release acids;
      • Activates ECL cells to release histamine;
      • Releases Gastrin Releasing Peptide onto G Cells; and
      • Inhibits Somatostatin release from D Cells.
  • Gastric Phase – 50%-60% of stomach acid is secreted in this stage. It is stimulated by distention of the stomach and by amino acids present in foods.
  • Intestinal Phase – Remaining 10% is secreted when chyme enters the small intestine and is stimulated by small intestine distension and by amino acids. The duodenal cells will release entero-oxyntin which will act on parietal cells without affecting gastrin.
  • The stomach acid is incredibly important for a number of reasons:
    • Digestion of protein. This acid activates digestive enzymes which help to break down the long chains of amino acids.
  • Sufficient Stomach Emptying – Failure to do so results in GERD;
  • Sterilise the stomach and kill bacteria and yeast that may be ingested;
  • Absorption of certain micronutrients, especially calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, boron etc.
  • On a blood test the most obvious sign of hypochlorydia is a chloride score of less than 100.
  1. Bacteria H Pylori
  2. Low Protein Diet
  3. Deficiencies in Chloride, Sodium and Zinc – Athletes in particular lose a lot of chloride and sodium through
  4. Administration of Bicarbonates, Acid Blocking Drugs and
  5. Ageing
  6. Alcohol Consumption
  7. Adrenal Fatigue
  8. Chronic Stress
  9. Bacterial Infection
  10. Hypothyroidism – Seems to lower the level of stomach acid in many thyroid patients lowering either the amount of parietal cells or else lowering their ability to produce the gastric
  1. You have lost your taste for meat. You will often feel like you are meant to be a vegetarian. I know my daughter went through this stage and it was partially this that made me realise she may be low in stomach Most often you will be low in hydrochloric acid and with a little HCL support you will regain your appetite for and your ability to digest this protein.
  2. You have a history of a vegetarian or vegan If you do not eat a lot of protein, your body will naturally lower its production of HCL to accommodate for it. HCL is not required if protein is not eaten and as vegetarians and/or vegans generally don’t consume much protein they are often low in HCL.
  3. You experience belching or gas an hour or so after a meal.
  4. You experience bloating or cramps within an hour after a meal. Fermentation caused from hypchlorydia can create gas and gas can create pressure. This pressure can create bloating and discomfort.
  5. You get heartburn or acid reflux. Most think that reflux is caused from too much stomach acid but it is most often caused from too little stomach acid. I will explain how this happens:
    1. Your esophagus has a pH of about 7 – Very neutral.
    2. Your stomach should have a pH of about 1.5-3 – Very acidic. Your body requires this for optimal digestion. Your stomach prepares for this acidic environment by secreting mucus that protects the lining so that you don’t digest yourself.
    3. Unfortunately the esophagus doesn’t have this protective lining.
    4. If you are not secreting enough HCL, the pyloric valve will not open, the contents of your stomach will start to create gas and it will create pressure. This gas must be released.
    5. If this gas goes up and leads to belching, the valve that connects the esophagus to the stomach will open and allow the gas to travel up. Unfortunately sometimes along with the gas, the stomach acid will also splash up and go into the esophagus.
    6. This will cause the intense burning caused by reflux.
  6. You have really bad breath as you are not digesting properly.
  7. You have smelly sweat. The improperly digested protein resulting from hypochlorydia is a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast to produce toxins.
  8. You will not be hungry for If you are not digesting you may still have the meal from the night before sitting in your belly first thing in the morning.
  9. You are hungry all the time, even when you are full.
  10. You get sleepy after meals.If you are not digesting properly, more energy resources will be diverted
  11. You have undigested food in your stools.
  12. Your fingernails chip, peel or break easily. This is a clear indication of deficiencies in protein, minerals and often essential fatty acids.
  13. You have anemia but it doesn’t respond to iron supplementation. Without sufficient HCL, you will not be able to absorb iron, even with supplementation.
  14. High Fat foods cause nausea or stomach upsets.
  15. Nausea/Reflux after Supplementation.
  1. Asthma – Study done in the 1980’s showed that 80% of children with asthma also have hypochlorydia.
  1. Acne – When stomach acid is low it can cause bacteria to accumulate on your skin.
  2. Chronic Fatigue
  3. Adrenal Fatigue
  4. Allergies
  5. B12 Deficiency
  6. Ageing – Lowers DHEA levels
  7. Increases Cortisol levels
  1. Osteoporosis and Bone Fractures – Excessive use of PPI’s.
  2. Lactose Intolerance and Gluten Intolerance – Many patients have actually discovered that these intolerances are activated by low levels of stomach acid. Once the stomach acid is corrected they are less sensitive to lactose and gluten.
  1. Mouth Ulcers.
  1. Heidelberg Stomach Acid Test – Best test for stomach acid problems.
    1. Fast for 8-12 hours. Do not consume any acid suppressing drugs for at least 4 days beforehand.
    2. Swalllow a small pill given by the doctor.
    3. Drink a solution of sodium bicarbonate.
    4. The test will record the pH in your stomach for as long as is needed.
  1. Baking Soda Stomach Acid Test
    1. Mix 1/4 tsp of baking soda in 4-6oz of water first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
    2. Drink the baking soda solution.
    3. Time how long it takes you to burp.
    4. If you have not burped within five minutes, stop timing.
    5. If your body is producing sufficient stomach acid you will burp within 2-3 minutes.
    6. Any burping after 3 minutes it indicates hypochlorydia.
    7. Do it at least 3 times.
    8. Not accurate enough to rule out low stomach acid.
  2. Betaine HCL Challenge Test
    1. Buy betaine HCL with pepsin;
    2. Eat a high protein meal of at least 6 oz of meat;
    3. In the middle of the meal, take 1 betaine HCL pill;
    4. Finish your meal and pay attention to your body.
    5. If you feel nothing then it is likely you have low stomach acid. If you start to feel something then it is likely you don’t have low stomach acid.
    6. This needs to be repeated at least 2 times and if you get 2 positive tests then start taking Betaine HCL to get your stomach acid levels where they need to be.
  • Reduce mineral depleting sugar and sweeteners
  • Add fermented foods and drinks
  • Eliminate Processed Foods
  • Ingest Apple Cider Vinegar – Consume about 1 tbsp in a little bit of water right before your meals.
  • If you have yeast be careful with consuming vinegar.
  • Take high doses of ascorbic acid at mealtimes.
  • Take Digestive Enzymes – These help you fully break down the nutrients you ingest.
  • Add HCL with Pepsin to your diet – Only take this if you are eating protein in your meal. If you are not having protein in that meal you do not want to take it. Start off with 1 capsule and gradually add it with each meal until you feel a warm feeling in your stomach.
  • Consume Manuka Honey – Although not great in large quantities, a teaspoon a day has been shown to help with digestive health, stomach ulcers and stomach acid.
  • Chew Your Food Thoroughly.
  • Eat Smaller Meals.
  • Try Fasting.
  • Try Swedish Bitters as they have been known to help raise the bodies hydrochloric acid levels. It is also useful for candida too.
  • Restore your iodine levels as that is known to improve stomach acid production.
  • Eradicate H Pylori.
  • Get your Hypothyroidism under control.

Rafsanjani FN et al, “Effects of Thyroid Hormones on basal and stimulated gastric acid secretion due to histamine, carbachol and pentagastrin in rats”, Saudi Medical Journal, 2003.

  1. The purpose of this study was to determine how thyroid hormones affects gastric acid secretion.
  1. This study was carried out in Iran in the year 2000.
  2. 2 groups of 8 rats of both sexes were formed.
  3. One group was made hypothyroid by adding methimazole for 20 days.
  4. One group was made hyperthyroid by adding thyroxin for 35 days.
  5. The rats were given a general anesthesia – it is all very ethical.
  6. I will not go into the procedure as it is very technical.
  7. However, after it was done what they found was that acid secretion decreased in hypothyroid rats and increased in hyperthyroid rats.
  8. They found that as it did not exert its effects by changing the cholinergic, gastrin or histamine receptors it was most likely due to the number or size of secretory cells in the body.
DisclaimerTranscript PDFResources

Please note that this information is not intended for medical purposes or to replace the advice of your medical practitioner. It is for informational purposes only to help guide you on your journey towards optimal wellness.


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