You probably know that your skin would get burned if you poured stomach acid on it, yet we need stomach acid to maintain a healthy digestive system. In fact, low stomach acid levels can hinder nutrient absorption and cause digestive problems.
Stomach acid helps break down proteins and minerals so that they’re easily absorbed into the body. It also kills harmful bacteria and parasites in the food we eat.
Surprisingly, you have a higher risk of low stomach acid than you may know. It’s estimated that 22 percent of the US population suffers from low stomach acid, also known as hypochlorhydria.
More surprising is the fact that low stomach acid causes more digestive problems than too much stomach acid, especially in adults, according to research.
LOW STOMACH ACID SYMPTOMS
Low stomach acid is not something you want to ignore. So let’s look into the common signs of low stomach acid.
Most people with stomach issues assume they have too much stomach acid, but sometimes it’s the opposite. As I mentioned earlier, food is not broken down properly when stomach acid levels are low. This, in turn, increases gas production, which may feel like heartburn.
It’s important to know what’s triggering your heartburn feeling before taking antacids. They may end up being harmful, if it’s caused by low stomach acid.
2. Trouble Digesting Meat
People with low stomach acid levels struggle to digest meat and other protein foods. It’s for this reason that you may feel tired, dizzy or nauseous after eating meat.
3. Gas and Bloating After Eating
This is usually a sign that your digestive system is not functioning properly. It could also indicate an excessive growth of bacteria.
4. Food Allergies and Intolerances
If you’re allergic or intolerant to different foods, it may have something to do with your stomach acid levels. While researchers can’t explain how stomach acid affects allergies and food sensitivities, they say there’s a strong link.
Get your stomach acid levels tested if you have any food intolerances or allergies.
5. Nutritional Deficiencies
Does your diet have all essential nutrients but tests show you’re nutrient deficient? Low stomach acid levels may be hindering the absorption of nutrients into your body.
6. Skin Problems Such as Acne
A healthy gut helps keep your skin healthy. Unfortunately, low stomach acid leads to excessive bacteria growth, which can cause skin issues. This explains why 40 percent of people with acne have low stomach acid, according to research.
7. Leaky Gut Syndrome
If you’re a health enthusiast, you’ve noticed that leaky gut syndrome is getting a lot of attention lately. Well, you’re prone to this condition when stomach acid levels are low, because your body will accumulate bacteria and toxins.
8. Undigested Food in Stools
There’s a very high chance you have low stomach acid if you can see undigested food in your stool. This can lead to low energy, since you’re not getting enough of the nutrients from the food you eat.
9. Hair Loss in Women
Most times, we lose hair due to a deficiency in B vitamins. You should also look out for other signs of B vitamin deficiency, such as brittle nails.
10. Diarrhea or Constipation
Again, this has to do with the overgrowth of bad bacteria. When your stomach has lots of bad bacteria and low amounts of friendly bacteria, you’re likely to suffer constipation, diarrhea and bloating.
WHAT CAUSES LOW STOMACH ACID?
- High-stress levels: Stress tends to reduce the production of stomach acid.
- Aging: The stomach produces less stomach acid as we grow older.
- Stomach surgery: Your stomach may start producing less acid after a stomach surgery.
- Medication: Taking antacids and other meds for digestive problems can lead to low stomach acid levels.
- High sugar intake: A diet that’s high in sugar can lower your stomach acid levels.