Ever wondered why some people get affected by stomach bugs more than others? It might be exposure to the germs that cause us to get ill, or it could be down to the ability of the body to fight off infection.
Our stomach acid is one of the first lines of defence against pathogenic microbes that we take into the body with our food.
There are four simple tips below you can start today to get better stomach acid.
A large number of people take medication to inhibit stomach acid for indigestion, or heartburn, known as acid reflux. Medication such as Omeprazole, or Ranitidine are Proton Pump Inhibitors which block stomach acid to reduce symptoms of heartburn. These drugs also help prevent or reduce damage to the oesophagus in chronic reflux, which can lead to Barratt’s Oesophagus or cancer in severe cases.
It’s vital to stop damage to the oesophagus, but when we reduce stomach acid this has an impact on other systems in the body. If we can’t digest our food properly, or get enough nutrients out of our diet there is a knock on impact on other body processes.
Role of stomach acid
- Digests proteins – Stomach acid activates an enzyme which starts the digestion of proteins called pepsin. If it doesn’t get digested properly it can leave you feeling heavy and full, as well as fermenting in the intestines.
- Helps digestion – the acid activates secretin which turns on other digestive enzymes. Enzymes are like small chisels that break apart food into smaller molecules.
- Activates digestive hormones like cholecystokinin which helps with fat digestion by stimulating bile
- Kills bacteria on our food – Our gut microbes and our immune system have to work extra hard to keep us safe if there are more pathogenic microbes entering into the body.
How do you know if you have low stomach acid?
You may get symptoms like heartburn, nausea, feeling like your food sits in your stomach for a long time.
Also, IBS type symptoms like constipation, diarrhoea, and bloating are linked to low stomach acid.
If you frequently see undigested food in stools or have bad breath it’s worth considering how strong your digestive power is. Digestive enzymes and the stomach acid work together to break down our food.
Tips to improve your stomach acid
- Eat slowly, chewing your food properly at every meal. Take your time over every mouthful
- Reduce stress – when we’re stressed we don’t make as much stomach acid
- Take digestive enzymes to help breakdown protein, fats and carbohydrates
- Eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits to get all the necessary nutrients
Let me know if you want any help with your digestion – I see nutrition clients for 1:1 nutrition coaching or join my online programmes.
Hi I'm Anna Mapson, registered Nutritionist (mBANT, CNHC). I help people with IBS, gut health and digestive issues.
I can help you to:
- understand your digestion better, so you recognise your triggers
- eat a well balanced diet, with tasty meals that are simple to prepare
- develop healthy, sustainable habits for life
“Anna is amazing! I feel totally transformed"
To find more about 1:1 nutrition consultations or my group membership see my IBS Diet support page