- Janelle Hunt
Low stomach acid is very common in those with eating disorders or disordered eating due to the root cause being undereating, inconsistent eating, not consuming adequate nutrients, and stress. It is often a missed diagnosis which can have a major impact on health, as it affects your ability to digest food and absorb essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals. The most common complaint I hear is “food is sitting like a brick in my stomach.” In this blog, I’ll discuss why we need stomach acid, how to spot the symptoms of low stomach acid and ways to improve it.
Why Do We Need Stomach Acid Hypochlorhydria is a condition in which the stomach does not produce enough hydrochloric acid (HCl) to adequately break down food or assist with nutrient absorption. Stomach acid releases pepsin, which aids in protein digestion, and it helps in the release of enzymes to further break down food. It is essential for mineral digestion such as zinc, magnesium, and sodium.
Symptoms of Low Stomach Acidity Common symptoms include:
Ridges in nails
Food in stool
Nausea or upset stomach
Broken capillaries in cheeks and nose
Prolonged fullness or feeling of a brick in your chest
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
Burning in stomach
Gas after eating
Nutrient deficiencies (iron, B12)
Hair loss/weak nails
Poor immune function and wound healing
How To Improve Stomach Acidity There are several treatments available for those suffering from hypochlorhydria including:
Monitor alcohol intake – excessive amounts can decrease stomach acid.
Check zinc status and increase zinc rich foods if needed – nuts, seeds, animal protein, beans, and yogurt.
Increase magnesium rich food – nuts, leafy greens, avocados, legumes.
Treat H. Pylori if needed.
Check thyroid status – a balanced thyroid is responsible for gastric secretions. Often just eating more and eliminating restriction will heal the thyroid.
Manage stress. We can only rest and digest if we manage our stress. Cortisol is released when we’re stressed, causing decreased stomach acid.
Conclusion Low stomach acid can have a major impact on digestion and overall health. Proper treatment can help you feel much better and help your body heal from an eating disorder. It's important to understand symptoms to familiarize yourself with possible treatments if necessary. While there are many at-home remedies available online it's best to consult with your healthcare provider before attempting any self-diagnosis methods as improper treatment can further aggravate existing conditions if not done correctly.