A clock tower, with its myriad gears, pulleys, levers, ropes, twisters and turners, can’t approach the human body’s complexity.
After all, the end of all that effort only tells time. A body? A body speaks, thinks, jumps, drives, sleeps, touches, keeps us safe.
But just like a clock tower, if one seemingly minor mechanism stops operating just the way it should, any number of things can go wrong. And each of those seemingly minor pieces gets taken for granted every time you glance at the clock to check the time.
We know how important the digestive tract is. And we’re slowly understanding how each piece of that very involved system can have ripple effects throughout every level of bodily task.
Problems like nutrient deficiency, autoimmune disorder, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronically low energy, and leaky gut may all look like disparate issues to treat individually – but in fact, they may all be related to an incredibly common cause: low stomach acid.
Because of our Western lifestyles, so many Americans are criminally low on stomach acid.
The irony is that without adequate hydrochloric acid, we can’t make ATP, or the compound that gives us energy. But in order to maintain the right stomach acid levels, we need an enormous amount of ATP.
See the problem?
How You’ll Know
Without the right amount of stomach acid, we can’t properly break down our food.
If we can’t properly break down our food, we can’t digest and absorb the nutrients in it, our gut lining is weakened, and those undigested macromolecules can slip through the permeated intestines.
Thus, you get inflammation, cramping from food sitting in your stomach, all of the side effects of a lack of nutrients, acid reflux, and more.
Before you set out to fix your stomach acid issue, make sure that’s what it is – specific tests should be able to indicate what’s wrong.
For example, an amino acid or enzyme test will let you know that you are low on an amino acid called histidine, which helps you produce gastric acid.
A urine test should be able to tell you how well your mitochondria are creating ATP, and if you’re B-vitamin deficient – all signs of low gastric acid.
But overall, if eating is a painful enterprise… you should know something’s up. More than likely, you’re not getting the benefit of complete digestion.
Try these solutions…
Chew Your Food
It can’t be overstated – we don’t chew enough. Eating should be a mindful process built with gratitude and deliberation. So often, we’re just shoving food into our mouths, chomping a few times, and swallowing in order to hurry on to the next bite. Before we know it, we’ve scarfed down a meal.
That leads to larger macromolecules that make the stomach work extra hard to break them down, using up more of your already limited supply of gastric acid.
Chew slowly, between 30-40 times per bite of food.
If you’ve been suffering from acid reflux, your doctor may have prescribed you antacids – or maybe you went out and got yourself some over-the-counter stuff!
Antacids neutralize stomach acid. Not great if you’re already running low.
Instead, maybe try a magnesium supplement to help operate the esophageal sphincter and produce more stomach acid.
Take It Easy
Definitely a tall order, but studies have shown that stress can decrease stomach acid production.
When you’re stressed, your body sends blood to your brain and muscles, preparing you to make a fight-or-flight decision. That means it diverts resources away from your digestive system.
Lower blood flow? Lower gastric acid getting produced.
Try to make meal time a peaceful occasion, as much as you can! Even if it’s the only space you can build peace during your day.
Make Room for Bitters
Bitters like dark chocolate, coffee, mustard greens, and more can actually help your gastric acid production.
Because so many bitters contain alkaloids and terpenes, which your body rightfully interprets as poisonous, the flavor of bitters alone can alert the digestive system it needs to be prepared to break this food down completely.
Thus, it produces more gastric acid.
Drink More Apple Cider Vinegar
Since the vinegar itself is so acidic, its mere presence in the gut can help not only encourage the production of more acid, but also break down the food that’s in there waiting to be digested.
Over all, you’re looking at a lifestyle change.
But in the short term, there are certainly some things you can do to help encourage your gut to make more stomach acid, including taking digestive enzymes, losing body fat, and even sitting up straight after eating.
Building good habits supports complete internal health. And since good health begins in the gut, it’s imperative you make sure you’re giving your gut what it needs to break down your food so that you can avoid leaky gut and get the most out of the nutrients you’re giving it!