Have you ever heard someone say that they eat healthy and can't tell a difference in their energy level and health? No matter how healthy you eat, if you have low stomach acid, your body won't absorb the nutrients from the foods you eat. Stomach acid (hydrochloric acid, HCI) plays a much bigger role in our health than most people may realize. The stomach acid activates pepsin, the enzyme that breaks down protein, converting it to essential amino acids and nutrients. This stimulates the pancreas to make the bile and digestive enzymes needed to further break down the protein as well as carbohydrates and fats. HCI also kills pathogenic bacteria present in food, thus helping prevent illness and disease. When the body cannot break down the food properly and absorb nutrients, it will start to rob your tissues, joints and bones of protein and nutrients it needs, thus creating arthritis and other health issues.
One of the best ways to know if you're low on stomach acid is to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. If it makes you feel a little woozy or nauseas you most likely have low stomach acid. Another test is to mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it first thing in the morning. If after 15 minutes you haven't belched, then you are most likely low on stomach acid.
Now, too much stomach acid creates acid reflux. So what you want to do is neutralize the stomach acid so that it can properly digest and absorb nutrients.
Our stomach acid decreases with age. But there are natural ways to neutralize stomach acid.
Here are 7 key ways to naturally neutralize stomach acid for digestion:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar Drinking 1 tablespoon of ACV in a glass of water 15-30 minutes before eating a meal will increase the stomach acid and activate pepsin.
2. Ginger Tea or Ginger Root Ginger neutralizes digestive juices.
3. Water Staying hydrated helps flush out toxic build up that blocks absorption. (Try not to drink water or any liquid 15 minutes before eating to 30 minutes after your meal as to not dilute stomach acid, so it can do it's job)
4. Fermented foods are loaded with digestive enzymes, probiotics and organic acids. Eating fermented vegetables with high protein meals is a great way to make sure you are properly breaking down and absorbing the protein.
5. Natural Iodine Therapy Iodine deficiency can lead to low stomach acid, as the stomach cells use iodine to produce hydrochloric acid.
6. Lemons or Lemon Water Lemons are alkaline-forming, like Apple Cider Vinegar, and help neutralize acidity in the stomach. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into a glass of water and drink it 10 minutes before your eat to help with digestion.
7. Aloe Vera Juice Aloe vera juice helps digestion by normalizing stomach acid and restoring pH balance. It also flushes yeast, toxins and parasites from the gut, creating an alkaline environment.
These simple adjustments could improve your digestion, allowing for your body to absorb the nutrients from your food and, thus, providing you with more energy throughout the day.
1. Champagne ET. Low gastric hydrochloric acid secretion and mineral bioavailability. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1989;249:173-84. PMID: 2543192
2. Stomach Acid Imbalance: Overview, Symptoms, Causes, Natural Treatments and Medicine
Kelly is a registered nutritionist, fitness trainer, author, blogger and mother.