We’re learning a lot about digestion this week in my course and it’s been really interesting, to say the least. On our required reading list was “Why Stomach Acid is Good For You,” which I decided to summarize … my attention span is really getting the best of me… regardless, it proved to be extremely beneficial in explaining a lot of the mix-ups and misinformation placed on us surrounding indigestion and stomach acid…
That the root cause of indigestion is NOT excess stomach acid but rather, it’s actually too little stomach acid.
Antacids. With their sole purpose being the elimination of stomach acid.
If the root cause of indigestion is having too little stomach acid; and antacids (which are taken for those experiencing indigestion/heartburn) eliminate/cool down stomach acid … aren’t we just perpetuating the issue? *insert thinking emoticon*
Back up the truck … let me quickly, succinctly go over the digestive process for a clearer understanding of what really happens….
- You eat food, which begins a chemical and mechanical breakdown in the mouth. AKA: chewing and salivary enzymes released
- The big breakdown of that food starts in your stomach. What happens? Stomach acid is released by protein triggers. The acid’s main purpose is to start movin’ and groovin’ the breakdown in order for the food to move to the next phase: small intestine.
*Now, this is where the potential for issue can arise.
If your acid is too low, there ain’t no moving nothing efficiently. So then, your food sits. Just chillin’ in your stomach. The food that’s just hanging out starts to change – proteins putrefy (aka: spoil), carbs begin to ferment.
(side note: fermentation produces growth – growth can produce gas – gas produces bloat)
So as these foods are changing (for the worse), your body’s feeling these side effects – bloat, discomfort and the gas that escapes back up to the esophagus (aka “heart burn”).
Now that the initial process has been so articulately described for you, where does this leave those antacids that are supposed to be helping?
Well, they’re not really.
Slap a band-aid on it. Cuz’ that’s what they’re doing. They are doing absolutely nothing to promote stomach acid (they’re doing the very opposite!) The band-aid is applied to “calm” the symptoms you’re experiencing, which allows us temporary relief (don’t confuse relief with healing) and thus, allows us to continue eating as before
And the cycle is repeated; and our body’s go through the entire, stressful process again. Causing strain, food build-up, discomfort and a myriad of other health concerns
Mind blown, right? Mine was.
So what promotes a healthy stomach and gut from those suffering from indigestion and heart burn?
To save you the extremely candid banter as narrated above, check out Chris Kresser’s article on indigestion and acid-reflux here.