Why Stomach Acid is Important?

HCL (hydrochloric acid) is produced by parietal cells in the stomach. Parietal cells is the epithelial lining of stomach and is also responsible for secretion of intrinsic factor. 

Role of HCL:

  • It kills the bacteria or any pathogens ingested along with food; it acts like a food steriliser by maintaining the stomach pH acidic at levels of 1.5-3

  • It breakdowns the food especially protein into smaller particles for further absorption in small intestine. It do so by converting inactive pepsinogen to active pepsin which is also secreted in stomach

  • It helps in absorption of various vitamins and minerals like B12, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron

Signs and symptoms of Low Stomach Acid

  • Bloating /Gas/Belching immediately after food

  • Iron deficiency or anaemia not treatable by iron supplements

  • Undigested food in stool

  • You don’t feel like eating your breakfast

  • Vegetarian diet

  • Strong sweat odour

  • Bad breath

Acid production

Diseases or Conditions associated with Low Stomach Acid 

  • Skin issues like eczema, rosacea, dermatitis

  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)

  • Autoimmune Disorders

  • Increased risk of bacterial or parasitic infections

  • Heart burn or acid reflux – Low stomach acid actually lead to acid reflux or acidity because the HCL signals the oesophageal sphincter to close once food is inside but due to lack of HCL that sphincter is not close properly and the food containing acid is pushed back in oesophagus causing acid reflux or heart burn

  • Candida or yeast infections

  • Protein Maldigestion or Malabsorption

Causes of Low Stomach Acid

  • Stress – when you are under stress or eating under stress, the HCL secretion is completely inhibited. Intense or chronic stress over secretes the HCL causing peptic ulcers while low grade stress inhibit HCL production

  • Eating highly processed food like refined flour and sugar

  • Ice cold water before or with meals – Constrict the stomach and shut the HCL production

  • Zinc and B12 deficiency – Both are needed for HCL production

  • Age – HCL production diminish with age

  • Long term use of Antacids – Antacids block the absorption of vitamins and minerals like B12, folic acid, calcium, iron, Vit.D

  • Vegan diet – Lacks zinc and B12 which predisposes you to be HCL deficient

Ways to increase HCL production

  • Relaxing before or during meals – Don’t eat food on bed or while watching TV. Eat food with TV off and sit on ground with legs folded (like you see the mediation pose). This posture in itself activates parasympathetic system which is relaxing system in our body and helps us to calm down. Its important that you at least eat one meal daily with your family members

  • Food Combination – Avoid eating protein with starches or carbohydrates as carbohydrate require less HCL so busy send signals not to produce enough HCL. Its best to combine proteins with some vegetables low in starch. Marinate your meats before preparation so its easily digestible. Eat your fruits alone.

  • Chew food properly as chewing sends signal for optimal HCL production

  • You can drink ginger boiled water or 100ml of freshly squeezed cabbage juice 10-15 mins prior to meals

  • Apple cider vinegar is also good way to stimulate HCL production

  • Betaine Hydrochloride caps you can have at start of meals but take with proper solid meals

You can try what works for you, I personally take 2 caps of Betaine hydrochloride with meals containing protein.  


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