Are my acid blocking medications making my digestion worse?
Many people experience heartburn after eating a meal. Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a common illness that affects 25 to 35% of the US population. Surprisingly, the underlying cause of heartburn can be caused by too little stomach acid rather than too much. Stomach acid is necessary for proper protein digestion and the absorption of vitamin B12 and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. This is one reason we often see nutritional deficiencies in those who take acid blocking medications for prolonged periods of time. These nutritional deficiencies may result in low energy, slow metabolism, mental fog, fatigue, and an increased susceptibility to chronic illness. In the long run, these nutritional deficiencies can lead to chronic conditions such as anemia and osteoporosis. The appropriate amount of stomach acid is crucial for optimal health.
To improve our digestive function, we need to start with our brain. When we see and smell food our brain sends signals to our salivary glands and stomach to release our digestive juices and prepare for a meal. Our body needs to be in a rested and relaxed state to be able to release digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid to properly digest food. Eating on the run, in the car, or when we are stressed-out are just some of the ways we impede our digestive process. In addition to digesting our food, stomach acid is also a primary defense against food poisoning, H. pylori, parasites, and other infections. Poor digestion can not only lead to malnutrition but also cause an imbalance in the microbiome, trigger food sensitivities or allergies, and may lead to many symptoms of irritable bowel.
Some of the most common symptoms of low stomach acid and poor digestion include:
- Bloating, belching, burning, and flatulence immediately after meals
- A sense of fullness after eating
- Indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation
- Undigested food in stool
- Abdominal distention and bloating
To improve your digestion and feel better, consider the following lifestyle changes:
- Spend more time with preparing and cooking your food. Digestion begins when you see and smell your food, well before the first bite.
- Chew your food thoroughly. The smaller the food particles, the better the digestive process.
- Relax while eating.
- Eat in community. Eating with others slows the eating process and increases the enjoyment of food.
- Bitter Herbs (including gentian, artichoke leaf, endive, dandelion leaf, wild lettuce, milk thistle, chicory): stimulates saliva, hydrochloric acid, pancreatic enzymes, and bile production when taken before meals
- Hydrochloric Acid/Betaine HCl: starts the digestive process and protects against food pathogens
- Pancreatic Enzymes (protease, amylase, lipase): helps to digest starch, protein, and fat
- Plant Protease Enzymes (papain, bromelain): supports digestion of wheat gluten and may reduce GI inflammation
- Bile Stimulators (ox bile, extracts of artichoke (Cynara) leaf, dandelion root, barberry, milk thistle, peppermint): aids in the digestion of fat and helps the body to excrete waste
Digest Best: Digest Best (naturologie.com)
HCL + Betaine: HCL + Betaine (naturologie.com)
All digestive enzymes: Health Concern - Digestive Health - Digestive Enzymes - Page 1 - Naturologie