You know that feeling all too well. After an indulgent dinner, or a takeaway pizza, you begin to experience heartburn or indigestion. Most people reach for Gaviscon tablets or antacids to relieve the symptoms of heartburn, which are commonly believed to be caused by over acidity in the stomach.
Can low stomach acidity cause heartburn?
Reaching for these quick fix remedies may be doing more harm than good. More than half of the population suffers from low stomach acidity, which is left untreated. This is because the signs and symptoms of low stomach acid are very similar to high stomach acidity.
Symptoms of low stomach acidity
If you have low stomach acidity, you may experience some or all the following symptoms:
- Bloating, belching, and wind soon after meals
- Heartburn (often thought to be caused by too much stomach acid)
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Undigested food in stools
- Skin problems, including acne
- Food allergies
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Weak, peeling, or cracked fingernails
How to prevent low stomach acidity
If you are experiencing the symptoms of low stomach acid, don’t fret! Here are some simple things you can do at home to help your body maximize its digestive processes and increase stomach acid.
- Reduce the amount of water you drink with meals. Drink small amounts of water during meals and larger amounts between meals.
- Chew food thoroughly to help stimulate the digestive processes in your stomach to produce stomach acid. Thorough chewing also coats your food in salivary digestive enzymes.
- Drink a small amount of apple cider vinegar in a small glass of water 30 minutes before a meal. However, if you feel a warming sensation in your stomach, then discontinue.
- Remember that your body does its best digestive work when you “rest & digest”. Your autonomic nervous system has two limbs: “fight or flight” (the sympathetic nervous system) or “rest and digest” (the parasympathetic nervous system). When you are stressed, you operate in the sympathetic nervous system and your body directs blood towards vital organs and away from digestive processes. Stress really can cause indigestion! While you often cannot control the stress factors in your life, you can take a few deep breaths before you eat and try to relax.
- There are supplements, such as betaine HCL, which work to increase stomach acid. However, you should always work with your doctor or a qualified healthcare practitioner when using betaine HCL.
If you think you are suffering from heartburn caused by low stomach acid, try these natural remedies for heartburn. If, however, your symptoms persist, consult a doctor for further advice.
Written by Melanie Mack
About the author
Melanie Mack is a health and fitness enthusiast who has been passionate about holistic wellness for over 12 years. After dealing with the uninspiring approach of western medicine, Melanie decided to change careers and work towards truly healing people through functional and integrative medicine. With a core belief that you can heal the body through food and lifestyle changes, Melanie’s approach is “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates. Melanie is currently studying to become a Nutritional Therapist and Naturopath at the Natural Healthcare College & College of Naturopathic Medicine, both out of London. She looks forward to opening her own practice in Mallorca in January of 2018. Melanie currently lives in Mallorca with her husband and 2 dogs.