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Finding Your Root Cause: Do you have low stomach acid?

Many people with autoimmune disease suffer from digestive issues and poor gut function, leading to a range of symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhoea, burping, bad breath and acid reflux.

A potential root cause of this is low stomach acid, medically known as hypochloridia. This means individuals are unable to produce enough stomach acid in order to digest their food properly, extract and absorb nutrients, stimulate digestive enzyme release and prevent an imbalance of microorganisms in the small and large intestines. This can lead to IBS, leaky gut syndrome, food intolerances, SIBO, malnutrition and an overgrowth of Candida.

However, there are also other far-reaching symptoms across the body that are a result of hypochloridia. These can include: hair loss, low white blood cell count, adrenal insufficiency, headaches, nausea after eating, fatigue, ulcers, reduced liver function, weight gain, brittle nails and a risk of gallstones. The medical conditions that can arise as a result of hypochloridia are: acne, eczema, allergies, diabetes, asthma, anemia, hypothyroidism and of course autoimmune disease.

It might be alarming that such a small aspect of our bodily function plays such a fundamental role in our health but it also makes sense and shows that the smallest changes can have a huge impact. Without good digestion and absorption of nutrients our entire function will become impaired and disease will follow.

Not having enough stomach acid can be caused by increasing age, H.pylori infection, deficiencies in zinc, chronic stress, a high sugar diet or long-term use of antacid medication. The undigested food will pass through your body, leaving nutrients unabsorbed and your gut bacteria with the job of breaking it down. Incomplete digestion will cause foods to come out whole in your stools too, one marker of knowing whether you have it or not. If you haven’t eaten meat in a long time this can also lower your levels, as protein consumption stimulates production.

For those that suffer with heartburn or GERD and are taking acid blocking or proton-pump inhibiting drugs, it may be that you actually have too little stomach acid and not too much. The symptoms of having too much can be the same as having too little, which is pretty perplexing, I know. It’s worth seeing a practitioner to find out because these drugs will affect all proton pumps in the body, which can lead to extreme fatigue.

If you have suffered from a number of the symptoms and medical conditions above it’s easy to see how much of an impact low stomach acid can have on autoimmune disease and resolving it can improve many areas of your health. All of our practitioners are qualified to help someone with hypochloridia and can suggest multiple ways in which to deal with it from herbs and supplements to increasing consumption of everyday foods.

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