In prior articles, I have outlined the path that our food takes when we eat a bite. Starting with chewing, and then swallowing to send the food down the esophagus into the stomach, where it meets with stomach acid to aid in the next stages of digestion.
We aren’t aware of the intricate process that our food goes through once we swallow a bite. You may have heard the phrase “you are what you eat,” yet I would say that is not a complete statement. Simply eating doesn’t make the food become a part of you. It must be broken down into its constituent components – proteins into amino acids, carbohydrates into starches and glucose, and fats into fatty acids – in order for your body to absorb them.
The digestion of carbohydrates begins with the chewing process when amylase enzymes in your saliva are mixed with your food. The hydrochloric acid in your stomach completes the digestion of the carbohydrates and begins to break down proteins, which were hopefully chewed well in the mouth. If there is insufficient acid in your stomach, proteins will not be properly broken down and may pass into the small intestine in a form that is difficult to digest completely.
Lest you think I’ve forgotten one … fats are primarily digested in the small intestine with the help of digestive enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the gallbladder.
But back to the stomach … when you don’t have enough stomach acid, your body will be hindered in absorbing minerals, vitamin B12, folate and proteins. And your body will lack a crucial part of its immune system because strong stomach acid is needed to kill bacteria and other bugs that enter with your food.
What are the signs of low stomach acid? There are many including belching after a meal, feeling full soon after you start eating, feeling bloated after a meal, or having acid reflux or heartburn after eating.
Yes, you read that correctly. Acid reflux has been clearly demonstrated to be caused primarily by too little acid rather than too much. If you have been taking acid-blocking medications, you definitely have too little stomach acid and are not digesting your food well, which has the potential of leading to anemia and other conditions related to malabsorption.
But there’s good news! You can support your digestion by supplementing your supply of stomach acid. This can be done with raw apple cider vinegar or Betaine with Pepsin capsules.
Have you recognized that you may have symptoms of low stomach acid? I’d like to invite you to contact me for a consultation where we can talk about how we can improve your digestion and thereby your overall wellness. Can you imagine how much better you could feel?