Here our Digestion expert Ali Cullen explains how too little stomach acid could be contributing to acid reflux, even though too much acid is instead often considered to be the main culprit. How can you determine exactly what the underlying problem is and how you can manage the problem going forward? Here we outline a range of home and herbal remedies.
Alison Cullen Nutritional Practitioner, BA (Hons), DN, DNT (Distinction) @AVogelUK Ask Ali
Stomach acid is extremely important for supporting the normal functions of the stomach. Our stomach acid is vital for not only digesting and breaking down the food we eat, but also in facilitating the absorption of the macro and micronutrients from the foods we eat. In addition, it has another important role too – it helps keep bad bacteria at bay.
The overgrowth of bad bacteria in the stomach, and/or the improper breakdown of the food we eat, can result in excess gas being produced. This then changes the pressure in the tummy which can contribute to the improper functioning of the lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS).
We don’t necessarily need to have excess acid to cause heartburn, it really all comes down to the functioning of this sphincter. The acidic contents of your stomach could end up in the wrong place– your oesophagus – if it isn’t doing its job properly.
There are some simple steps you can take at home to try and keep acid reflux as a result of low stomach acid under control:
Think about your eating habits. If you stomach acid is already low then you may need to take some extra steps to really support your digestion. Chewing your food properly is vital – that’s up to 20 times per mouthful in order to allow the enzymes in your mouth to start the breakdown process, this will put your stomach in better stead. Avoid eating on the run, and make time to sit at a table to eat and enjoy your food at your leisure which will also help to assist with that chewing process!
Bitter foods are good. The taste of bitter foods naturally helps to stimulate your digestive juices. Try incorporating bitter herbs in your diet or we discuss below how tinctures can also be used instead
There are some natural remedies which could be useful in instances of acid reflux as a result of low stomach acid:
Bitter herbs. Bitter herbs, such as those found in our Digestisan help stimulate and support your digestive juices whilst also helping to relieve uncomfortable symptoms including indigestion or flatulence
Silicol gel.Silicol gel creates a protective barrier throughout the digestive tract which can help relieve uncomfortable symptoms associated with heartburn or acid reflux
In some cases acid-reducing drugs may be prescribed to help with symptoms of acid reflux. Although they may help to reduce some of the symptoms, it is important to keep a track of your symptoms over time and report back to your doctor if you feel any medication you are on isn’t working.
Want to improve your digestion? Get involved as our Digestion Advisor Ali Cullen takes you through her 5 step plan to improve your digestion and get problem symptoms, from bloating to acid reflux, under control.