HCL. Do you make enough? 

Hydrochloric acid (HCL) or stomach acid is an important component not only to digestion but to your overall health. HCL is one of the most important fluids in the human body. 

When most people think of stomach acid they think of acid reflux and indigestion; however, someone can have low stomach acid and be asymptomatic. 

The common medical solution to acid reflux is medication that reduces stomach acid like prilosec, nexium and antacids. While reducing stomach acid gives temporary relief, it can actually cause more harm in the long run.

An acidic environment in the stomach is not only important for killing germs on food but digesting food as well, especially protein. When the stomach doesn’t make enough HCL to produce the enzymes that digest proteins, you end up with undigested proteins going into the small intestine. This puts additional stress on the pancreas to produce more enzymes to make up for the work the stomach didn’t do. Moreover, low stomach acidity weakens the immune system. 

Aside from medications, HCL is reduced by stress, sickness and aging. Additionally, drinking water with meals, overeating and eating too often can also reduce HCL. One of my biggest concerns about low stomach acid is poor nutrient absorption which leads to mineral deficiencies and other issues. So keeping your stomach acidic is paramount. 

Here are some symptoms of low HCL that are commonly missed:

loss of taste for meat

lower intestinal gas a few hours after eating

burning stomach sensations

foul smelling gas

indigestion 1/2-1 hour after eating

irritable bowel

gas after eating

stomach bloating after eating

bad breath

difficulty digesting fruits and vegetables

undigested food in stool

acid/spicy food upset stomach 

If you think you are low on HCL one of the simplest things to do is to drink 2 Tbsps of apple cider vinegar (with the mother) in 2 ounces of water right before meals. If you don’t like the taste of vinegar there are supplements at the office you can use to support digestion instead. 

If these simple steps don’t improve digestion call the office for a more comprehensive approach 517 721 1904.

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