I’m sure almost everyone has experienced heartburn once or more in their lives. Heartburn occurs when hydrochloric acid , which is used by the stomach to digest food, backs up into the esophagus. It can be very painful, as even a small amount of this digestive fluid in the esophagus can cause discomfort.
It’s a common misconception that heartburn is caused by too much stomach acid. It is believed that most cases of heartburn actually stem from too little hydrochloric acid, not too much. Traditional medical treatment calls for acid-lowering drugs, such as Pepcid AC or Zantac. These may produce temporary relief, however, tend to lead to rebound heartburn. Furthermore, because a person who suffers from heartburn is often deficient in hydrochloric acid, these treatments are doing nothing to address the underlying problem.
Hydrochloric acid (HCl) serves two primary functions. It creates an acidic environment essential for the breakdown of nutrients and it also helps protect the digestive tract from infection. HCl triggers the release of enzymes such as pepsin which are essential for the digestion of protein. There are numerous minerals that appear to be hydrochloric acid-dependent, chiefly: magnesium, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum, selenium and zinc.
When stomach acid levels are low, undigested food may become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Studies have shown that too little HCl can actually lead to inflammation in the stomach and digestive tract. HCl therefore, is very important. In fact, scientists have found that the overproduction of HCl occurs as the stomach’s initial response to bacterial colonization. Inflammation was found to be the main trigger for stomach acid production.
Low hydrochloric acid can be more damaging than just producing heartburn. Hydrochloric acid is essential for the breakdown of proteins. It also stimulates enzymes needed to digest carbohydrates and fats. HCl is also needed to help absorb many minerals and vitamins.
Many health problems may also be linked to low stomach acid, including chronic hives, fatigue, eczema, anemia, allergies, cracked fingernails, depression and bad breath due to inefficient digestion. It has been found that one in every three Americans over the age of 60 have low hydrochloric acid.
It may be common to experience heartburn after a heavy meal. Pregnant women, people with diabetes or hiatal hernia and the elderly are especially susceptible to heartburn. People who smoke, drink, are overweight or are under stress are more susceptible to heartburn as well. Those who eat processed foods, hydrogenated fats, large amounts of chocolate or acidic foods, are at an increased risk for heartburn. Furthermore, coffee, tea and alcohol can lead to heartburn, as well as eating too fast without adequate chewing.
What to do if you suffer from heartburn:
• Eat 6 small meals a day
• Sip 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar mixed with 3 ounces of water prior to eating a meal
• Avoid other liquids while eating a meal, as drinking with a meal dilutes hydrochloric acid
• Drink 2 ounces of pure aloe vera juice 3 times a day
• Drink raw coconut water throughout the day
• Include fresh papaya and pineapple in your diet, as they contain essential digestive enzymes.
• Avoid tobacco, caffeine, carbonated beverages, fried foods, processed foods, sugar, spicy foods, and tomatoes
• Chew thoroughly
• Include raw vegetables in the diet
• Take a B-50 complex, which is needed for proper digestion
• Take high quality probiotics
• Take digestive enzymes after eating meals, such as Enzymedica brand enzymes
• Take turmeric and ginger root capsules
• Drink chamomile tea throughout the day
• Drink marshmallow tea
• Take mastic gum
• Take Calcium and magnesium before bed
• Take liquid trace minerals
• Drink fresh squeezed cabbage and celery juice daily
• Take deglycyrrhizinated licorice root (DGL)
• Try to manage stress!