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Could Your Heartburn Actually be Caused by Too Little (Not Too Much) Stomach Acid?

Common “knowledge” is that heartburn and GERD are caused from having too much stomach acid. However, today I want to challenge you to see the flaws in that theory and consider that it may be from having too LITTLE stomach acid.

Stomach Acid & Your Age

It is statistically a fact that the incidence of heartburn and GERD increases with age, while stomach acid levels generally decline with age. How does this make sense? If heartburn was caused by too much stomach acid, wouldn’t your chances of having heartburn go down as you age? In fact, according to Jonathan Wright, MD of the Tahoma Clinic in Washington State, when stomach acid is measured in people suffering from heartburn and GERD it is almost always low, not high.

What Happens When You Have Low Stomach Acid?

When you have low levels of stomach acid (Hypochlorhydria), food will sit in your stomach longer than it should and not digest properly. When this happens, the partially digested food along with stomach acid is forced back up into your esophageal sphincter, creating the burning sensation.

If that’s true, then why does taking antacids help the pain?

low-stomach-acidThe symptoms of heartburn and GERD are actually caused by stomach acid, but only because it is backing up into your esophagus. Any amount of acid in the esophagus is going to cause problems. So, when you take antacids it will give you relief from the acid that has backed up.

Also, throwing antacids at the symptoms does not treat underlying causes of the problem and in fact it makes things worse. Americans spend more than $13 billion on acid stopping drugs each year. This expense might be justified if antacid drugs were actually curing heartburn and GERD, but just the opposite is true. Not only do these drugs fail to treat GERD, they will make the underlying condition (not enough stomach acid) worse. This virtually necessitates the lifelong use of these medications for anyone who takes them (what most drug manufacturing companies want).

Curing a condition means eliminating its cause, but this of course is not the case with antacids. As soon as the patient stops taking them, the symptoms return. And often they’re worse than they were before the patient started the drug. This is due to the fact that antacids actually reduced acid levels to even lower levels…this was the problem to begin with!

Serious Health Risks Beyond Heartburn!

There are also some serious dangers associated with Hypochlorhydria. Especially if you are taking antacids and further reducing stomach acid to extreme low levels. Without proper stomach acid your body can not digest foods properly and absorb all the nutrients and trace elements from the food.

Here are Some of the Major Consequences From This:

  • Substantial increase in one’s risk of Osteoporosis.
  • Malabsorption of B12. It is a konw fact that proton pump inhibitors can reduce your absorption of B12 to less than 1%.
  • Increase susceptibility to gut infections and food poisoning.
  • Increased liklihood of Candida Yeast overgrowth.
  • Increased risk of stomach cancer.

Common Symptoms of Low Stomach Acid (Hypochlorhydria):

  • Extreme fullness after meals
  • Belching
  • Heartburn/burning sensation
  • Gas, flatulence after meals
  • Indigestion
  • Burning
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Aging due to malabsorption
  • Food allergies/sensitivities
  • Anemia
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Food allergies/sensitivities
  • Skin probles
  • Weak nails

If Low Stomach Acid is The Problem, Then How is it Treated?

By taking a high quality digestive enzyme, you will help the body to break down the food you eat and prevent it from backing up into the esophagus. There are a variety of digestive enzymes on the market, including single enzyme and multiple enzyme. Most people are going to benefit most from a multi-enzyme product, so you’ll want to see a number of enzymes listed, including proteases (which break down proteins), lipases (which break down fats), and carbohydrases (such as amylase, which break down carbohydrates).

You should also stay away from foods you are sensitive to, which can cause inflammation in your gut and make your symptoms worse. You can find out what those foods are by doing a simple

Some Other Things Thant Can Help:

  • Chew your food fully. This will help your stomach to more easily digest your food.
  • Eat sitting down and while in a relaxed state. The mere sight, smell, or thought of food triggers reflexes in the brain that result in increased stomach acid secretion, so you want to give eating your full attention.
  • To temporarily increase the acidity of the stomach, drink a small amount of fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar added to room temperature water about 15-20 minutes prior to eating.

You Don’t Need to Suffer with Heartburn Any More!

I hope this information has been beneficial for you and has challenged you to rethink the way you approach treating your heartburn and GERD symptoms. Do you suffer from the symptoms of low stomach acid? Do you plan on making a change? Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments below.

Dr. Shel

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