March 2, 2015

308 Excess Stomach Acid [2 March 2015]

Last week I wrote that heartburn or indigestion is more often caused by low stomach acid than by excess acid. This time let’s look at what to do if you are producing too much stomach acid.

First, to explain a paradox I touched on last week. How can having low stomach acid produce heartburn symptoms that are relieved by taking an antacid? Steve Wright explains it this way: low stomach acid leads to bacterial overgrowth and maldigested carbohydrates, which increase intra-abdominal pressure, pushing on the stomach and forcing the stomach juices up into the esophagus. Even weak acid will irritate the unprotected lining of the esophagus, causing heartburn.

Before treating yourself for excess acid, be sure that that is the problem. The Heidelberg Test is more accurate than the betaine challenge test described last week, but is expensive and your doctor may be reluctant to order it. It involves swallowing a pH meter which measures the pH of your stomach as you drink a solution of sodium bicarbonate.

Once you have determined that your problem is excess acid, are taking ant-acids or proton pump inhibitors the answer? Not necessarily so. Remember that sufficient stomach acid is still required for proper digestion and protection from food borne pathogens. There are other more natural ways to prevent heartburn.

• Avoid becoming overstressed (easier said than done!)
• Don’t lie down for 2 hours following a meal
• Eat smaller meals, chew thoroughly, and drink a glass of water with meals
• Avoid spicy foods, carbonated drinks, coffee & alcohol
• Replace processed foods with whole foods, especially vegetables
• Include sufficient protein in every meal
• Supplement with probiotics and fermented foods to ensure healthy gut flora
• Take alkalizing supplements or eat a high alkaline diet (a subject for a future column) to lower systemic pH without compromising digestion
• For occasional severe pain use ant-acids or 1 tsp baking soda in a glass of water

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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