You probably heard that you are what you eat but even more important, what you actually absorb. If the food is not broken down properly, vitamins and minerals can’t be absorbed and used by our body. I like to think about food not only as a fuel, but my daily nourishment.
Role in digestion
Stomach acid is one of the main factors that plays key role in digestive health and nutrient absorption, especially vitamin B12 and iron (from plant sources). Stomach acid also helps to eliminate pathogens like bacteria and viruses, protecting you from infections.
As you know, digestive enzymes are required to break down food. Stomach acid stimulates secretion of pancreatic juices and activates pepsin. You need both for appropriate digestion, especially protein and fats which are the toughest one to digest. If the food is not broken down, it will stay and ferment in your gut. Moreover, undigested protein creates polyamines that are linked to ageing, diseases and colon cancer.
What can decrease stomach acid production?
Stomach acid is secreted by stomach cells and its production is dependent on appropriate levels of vitamin B6 and zinc. Stress, age, h.pylori, infections, acid-reducing drugs and histamine blocker, food intolerances, processed food, high sugar intake and autoimmune conditions impair stomach acid production.
Low stomach acid symptoms:
Low stomach acid apart from poor nutrient absorption may result in bloating, excess gas, heartburn, acid reflux and constipation.
How to increase stomach acid naturally?
My favourite and fairly easy way to increase stomach acid is having raw apple cider vinegar before meals. Chewing food properly stimulates stomach acid secretion, I’m not saying you have to chew each bite of the food 32 times but slow, mindful eating and not swallowing the whole chunks definitely helps. Bitter foods like ginger, leafy greens: rocket or parsley i.e and apricot seed before meals are also good alternatives to apple cider vinegar.