Let’s talk about stomach acid! Contrary to popular belief, stomach acid is often NOT the cause of heartburn and indigestion. Rather, many people suffer from LOW stomach acid, a condition called achlorhydria. As a result, they cannot digest foods properly, which often leads to NON-ACID reflux, or a feeling of “phlegm” in their throats. Not having enough stomach acid is also a common cause of bloating or burping after eating.
Stomach acid is vital for:
1) Digesting proteins in your diet
2) Destroying pathogens like bacteria or yeast
3) A healthy bacterial balance in your microbiome
4) Preventing Dysbiosis, or Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
5) Preventing an overgrowth of Candida or Small Intestine Fungal Overgrowth (SIFO)
What are some clues that you might have low stomach acid?
1) Feeling like you can’t digest meat, or it just sits in your stomach
2) Undigested food particles in your stool
3) Burping or belching after eating
4) Bloating, or recurrent SIBO/ SIFO
5) Brittle hair and nails
The most definitive way to figure out if you could benefit from supplemental stomach acid, is to try a capsule of Betaine and Pepsin after a meal. Betaine is hydrochloric acid and Pepsin is the enzyme that digests proteins. If you don’t feel anything, this means you DID NOT make enough stomach acid, and you NEEDED the supplemental Betaine and Pepsin. On the other hand, if you feel burning, then it means you are making enough stomach acid, and you don’t need any additional supplementation. The burning usually subsides within a few minutes, or you can quickly neutralize it by drinking a glass of water with 1/4 tsp of baking soda.
Over the years, I have seen remarkable improvements in patients suffering from bloating, chronic SIBO, and Candida after adding Betaine and Pepsin to their regimen.
The better you breakdown your food, the more nutrients you can absorb!
Better Digestion = Better Health!
Rajsree Nambudripad, MD