Heartburn, indigestion, reflux, GERD…we have all experienced it sometime in our life! That burning ache that makes life and eating a drag. The makers of Mylanta and Gaviscon will have you believe that it’s because of a shortage of antacids, however hopefully this reality doesn’t sit right with you.
The truth is (drumroll please)…that the majority of heartburn is caused by LOW stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) levels (or in other terms a high PH – we know, it’s confusing). This is called hypochlorhydria. In an ideal world, our stomach acid would be sitting at a balmy 1.5-2.2pH. To put this in context, our blood sits at 7.35-7.45pH, and optimal drinking water should be between 7-9pH.
When your stomach acid is too alkaline (not acidic enough – therefore >2.2pH) then it will not be able to breakdown the proteins in your food properly. This may not seem like much of a big deal, however it is!
It means that it will tax your digestive system with trying to process undigested food. This food will not be broken down enough for your body to absorb crucial vitamins and minerals for optimal health. Also it will damage the gut lining and ferment as it passes through your intestines (yes we are talking about farts and poo). You are also at increased risk of food poisoning and other infections, such as helicobacter pylori.
This most likely will result in:
- Abdominal cramping
- Joint pain
- Skin conditions
- Food reactions
- Week, peeling and cracked fingernails
- Iron deficiency
- Parasites and dysbiosis (abnormal gut flora)
- Yeast infections
So why does it get too alkaline?
We can answer this question however you probably already know…
A poor diet full of refined carbohydrates and sugar, medication, alcohol, stress, just to name a few.
So what can we do to help reduce our stomach acid pH?
Thankfully there are many easy things you can do to maintain an optimal stomach acid level. These include:
- A glass of room temperature water with fresh lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar – only use a tablespoon per glass) on an empty stomach in the morning (and even a few minutes before meals)
- Celery juice (organic cold pressed is best and ideally 450mls on an empty stomach first thing in the morning – 20 minutes after your lemon water)
- Chew your food well (while sitting down at a table)
- Eliminate processed foods from your diet
- Eat fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, kiefer etc.)
- Eat ginger
- Digestive enzymes (this is a last resort when all conservative measures have failed and it is best to see your integrative health professional before starting any supplements)
So there you have it. Some easy ways to eliminate your pesky heartburn forever!
Let us know how you go and give us a shout out if you need some help.
Yours in optimal stomach acid,
Dr A and Dr J