Stomach acid doesn’t sound too appealing, but surprisingly, without it, digestion can greatly suffer. Many things contribute to digestion, such as everything from when and how relaxed you are when you eat, how much sleep you get, possible food reactions, along with the efficiency of your small intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas and large intestine. Boy, that’s a lot of work! But each part of digestion is needed for nourishing all your organs, along with your endocrine and nervous system health (which also affect digestion on their own).
The Deal With Stomach Acid
Stomach acid is naturally found in the body on purpose, and in the right amounts, it can help break down your food efficiently, due to the body naturally containing hydrochloric acid (HCL). Digestive enzymes also help improve stomach acid utilization and overall digestion, which is one reason they have become so popular today. Both HCL and enzymes decrease with age since we produce less, and when we abuse our digestive system by making poor food choices, along with taking in chemicals, and not managing our stress, these natural enzymes and HCL also decrease or become less efficient. When we eat more often than our bodies need or overconsume high doses of fats and proteins, acid production is weakened, which is usually when problems arise. Decreased HCL production may lead to poor digestion, with symptoms such as gas, bloating, and general discomfort.
How to Improve Digestion With Betaine HCL
We’re starting to learn just how deficient some people are in natural HCL levels and it’s a common experience among people that eat healthy diets. Since animal foods are so acidic, they naturally cause more stomach acid, but they aren’t the answer to improving stomach acids due to the negative consequences they come with. Too much of them can actually decrease stomach acid levels, so why confuse our bodies more than necessary?
Luckily, there are things you can do to improve your hydrochloric (HCL) stomach acid levels without giving up a healthy diet. When your body produces enough stomach acid, you should have less pain, gas, and overall digestive problems. A quality digestive enzyme supplement with HCL added (also called Betaine HCL on the label) is a great idea to consider or a standard Betaine HCL supplement, available everywhere now.
If you want to take a supplement, they have been shown to improve digestion and the uptake of nutrients to cause less pain and overall a better digestive experience. Keep in mind that inadequate HCl levels can cause iron deficiency anemia (due to the poor absorption during digestion) and even osteoporosis due to the decreased amount of calcium absorption. Allergies and the poor food breakdown, and even leaky gut syndrome are also associated with low HCL. Diabetics also have lower secretions, as do those ezcema, psoriasis, dental disease, and candida yeast overgrowth. Chronic low stomach acid levels can even cause a rise in bacteria, yeasts, and parasites.
Foods That Help Increase HCL
Foods in the diet also help the body produce more HCL naturally over time, though may not be as quick acting as a supplement. These foods are: lemons, limes, apple cider vinegar, along with papaya, pineapple, and a high-quality salt. Though a low-sodium diet is healthy for many, some people can actually take in too little salt, which can decrease HCL levels naturally, hence the name hydro-chloric( with chloric meaning salt). A great idea to improve your stomach acid levels naturally would be to try making a HCL-producing meal, such as a large salad with some apple cider vinegar lemon dressing, and a sprinkle of high-mineral sea salt (such as pink Himilayan or true salt), and perhaps some miso (also high in quality salt that provides beneficial bacteria).
Too Much of A Good Thing?
Keep in mind that too much supplementation of HCL is not necessary forever. If you take HCL and experience heartburn, this is likely a sign your body produces enough on its own, and if you experience heartburn without taking a supplement, your body may be producing too much. If this is the case, adding more alkaline fruits and vegetables can help improve this quickly. Digestion is extremely important to your overall health, so always keep in mind of how it affects you and be willing to make changes as needed.
Lead Image Source: avry/Flickr