Do you know that the digestive tract may be the single most important body component determining health and disease? Can you also believe that poor digestion and specifically low stomach acid production may be an important factor in aging you?
I was a little bit surprised when I heard this for the first time, but when I read more it all made sense to me. Digestion, assimilation and absorption of food are very important to ensure that your body gets enough of the essential micro- and macro-nutrients. Poor digestion contributes to poor assimilation and absorption and can lead to many chronic health problems and early aging.
As an Oakville-based holistic nutritionist, I believe that poor digestion is at the root of most chronic health issues and that a strong digestive system is key for optimum health and longevity. Therefore optimizing the digestive system function is usually a priority in my clients’ holistic nutrition plan.
The health of the digestive system is highly dependent on the production of optimal amounts of stomach acid “hydrochloric acid” or HCL. HCL is produced by the parietal cells of the stomach and is a key factor for digestion of proteins and fats, the absorption of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium zinc as well as vitamin B12. Since HCL production is the stimulus to pancreatic secretions containing the majority of enzymes that actively breakdown foods, low levels can compromise the whole digestive process.
What are the causes of low stomach acid?
When we eat more frequently than required, over consume proteins and fats or eat too much junk food, the stomach acid secretion begins to decrease. Stress can also be a factor that stimulates acid secretion. Long term chronic stress can also contribute to decreased stomach acid. One reason that stress can cause rapid aging is that it diminishes HCL production and weakens digestion. As we age our HCL production and digestive enzymes also decrease.
What are the symptoms of low HCL production by the stomach?
-Decreased HCL production may lead to poor digestion with symptoms such as bloating, gas and discomfort after rich meals.
-Low HCL production can be also associated by many other health problems such as iron deficiency anemia, osteoporosis, diabetes, eczema, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis and periodontal disease.
-It was found that more than half the people with gall stones show decreased HCL secretion compared with gall stone-free patients.
-Poor breakdown of foods can also predispose to gut inflammation and leaky gut syndrome which predispose to general allergies and food allergies.
-With low stomach acid there can be an increase in bacteria, yeast and parasites growing in the intestines. This can contribute to lowered immunity and toxicity in the body.
Low stomach acid is a condition that can be determined by your natural health practitioner. Dealing with this issue may be a key factor in improving your health and reversing nutrient deficiencies and chronic health issues. Fortunately it can be corrected in most people by eating a balanced diet, reducing daily stress and specific nutrient supplementation. Herbs such as rosemary, ginger and cumin can also be helpful for such condition.
Optimum HCL production is vital for long lasting health and longevity. Correcting low stomach acid levels may also reverse many nutrient deficiencies and ensure a healthy digestive tract.
If you need more help with your nutrition and health call us at 416 876 4634 to book an appointment or sign up for a FREE Clarity Session with Oakville holistic nutritionist Dr Maha Nasr to discuss your health concerns and see how we can help you.
Staying Healthy With Nutrition, Elson M. Haas, MD with Buck Levin, PhD, RD