There are so many products on the market to reduce stomach acid...after all, heartburn hurts and is uncomfortable and we should do whatever we can to control too much stomach acid. Or should we?
We should not.
Don't get me wrong, for acute issues like major reflux and heartburn, antacids can be helpful, because acid can erode our esophageal lining. However, these anti-acids should not be used for long periods of time. (or in my opinion, really ever) Having reflux does not mean your body is telling you to go out and purchase medication. Meds won't solve the underlying problem.
Reflux and heartburn are sending ONE message. You have a problem with digestion, specifically within your stomach, and you need to figure out what is going on in there!
As functional medicine practitioners know, our stomachs NEED to be highly acidic. Like battery acid acidic. After all, the stomach is where most of our initial digestion takes place. Without proper stomach acid, foods won't get broken down properly, thus blocking absorption of many important nutrients, especially B12. We need B12 to unlock and utilize energy within our cells. If you have low B12 it can be a sign of low stomach acid.
*** (Many of us Hashimamas have low stomach acid and, thus, low B12)
Additionally, when food is not properly broken down in the stomach, food can sit there, undigested, putting pressure on and weakening the 'flap", or the sphincter, between the stomach and esophagus. This creates reflux. It's not TOO MUCH acid that causes reflux and heartburn, it's TOO LITTLE.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
Keep our stomachs happily acidic by ADDING acid. How? Here are a few methods. You can do ALL of these, not all at once, but throughout the day and week to help build up your acid level or to maintain the good level you already have.
1. Drink warm lemon water upon waking. This helps get the juices churning. Though lemons are alkaline as a whole, which helps to reduce inflammation, they help promote acid within our stomach.
2. Don't drink liquids 30 minutes prior to, during, or 30 minutes after eating. I know, seems strange, huh? I still have a hard time remembering when I am out to eat and water is served. But this is important. The more you drink, the more diluted your stomach acid becomes. So hold off as much as you can. If you must have a drink, take small sips, and as few as possible. Yes we need water, but try not to time your intake around meals. Trust me, you can get used to this!
3. Drink Apple Cider Vinegar. Upon waking or throughout the day, just a capful to two teaspoons in a 16 oz. glass of water. It has the same properties as lemon for the stomach.
4. Take Betaine HCL. Hydrochloric Acid, that's the full name for stomach acid. And it comes in capsules. Take it before meals, or with, depending on directions, and help your stomach out. (Talk to your practitioner or coach for dosages.)
5. Eat in a relaxed state. Mindfulness is a key component to proper digestion. If you have to eat on the run, then wait. Seriously. When we are stressed, we send our body the message "Wait! You have to do this, this and this first! Pay attention to this! Put digestion on the back burner!".
Just find ten minutes, 20 would be great, to stop, breathe and eat. Allow yourself to chew and taste and enjoy your food. Allow your parasympathetic state to take over. The state that tells your body, "Ok, go forth with digestion. Create the stomach acid, release the enzymes, mobilize the waste, absorb, absorb! And do it well!"
6. Last, but really first...Eat good food. Real food. Whole foods. Foods that your body recognizes and digests easily. Foods that provide the enzymes and nutritional support you need. Everything comes down to this. Your body was made perfectly. Just give it the love and support it needs to function and it will serve you well!
Churn and Burn Baby! Just keep the digestive burn, where it belongs, within the stomach!