TRUTH: YOUR ACID REFLUX, BLOATING AND SH*TTY DIGESTIVE ISSUES ARE PROBABLY DUE TO NOT HAVING ENOUGH STOMACH ACID.
Yes, I know this is contrary to everything you have ever believed about how your body is supposed to work, (pop another Tums!) but just follow me for a minute while we talk this through.
You probably know more about your cell phone than how your body works, so this is going to be time well spent anyway, am I right?
Our digestive processes are designed to start working at the sight or smell of food. When we anticipate that first bite of goodness, our brain is already setting the stage by increasing the enzymes in our saliva that start digesting carbohydrates along with super-charging the production of stomach acid within our stomach so that it’s ready to essentially turn our steak into soup.
OUR STOMACH IS SUPPOSED TO BE HIGHLY ACIDIC - IT'S THE ONLY ENVIRONMENT IN OUR BODY DESIGNED THIS WAY - BUT IT'S FOR VERY GOOD REASON:
1. Stomach acid kills pathogens and invaders
Think of this highly acidic bath as being the first line of defense for your immune system. When (because it’s not an if, it’s a when) you ingest bacteria, viruses, parasites or other invaders that shouldn’t live in your body, they should be killed in the acid swimming pool of your stomach before they ever become a problem for your immune system to fight. That’s a very good thing!
How come no one ever told us when we were playing Oregon Trail? It was the ones without enough stomach acid who were going to go down with cholera. That would have been helpful.
Have you ever eaten the same food as someone who got food poisoning and you didn't? (Or vice versa...) It's probably because one of you had a low enough pH (which means more acidic) in their stomach and it killed the invaders.
2. Inadequate stomach acid causes acid reflux and heartburn.
I know what you're thinking: If you get acid reflux or heartburn it's because you have too much stomach acid. Duh.
Well, that's where we have been led quite astray, my friend. (To the joy of companies that sell over the counter antacids and acid blockers, of course.)
Remember how our stomach is designed to be so acidic that it can turn our steak into soup? That's the way it's supposed to work, and when it does, the carbohydrates, proteins and fats you just ate are broken down into their smallest components and absorbed through the intestines into the bloodstream for your body to use.
When we don't have enough stomach acid (due to dehydration, mineral deficiencies or chronic stress) those carbs, fats and proteins end up churning around in the stomach and fermenting, rancidifying and putrefying. (EW!)
Fermenting and putrefying food produces gas, which is why acid reflux occurs. When the mixture of your stomach isn't acidic enough to trigger the valve opening that pushes it into the small intestine, your food just churns around and basically rots, which produces gas, and that gas creates pressure that pushes the acidic mixture into your esophagus.
This is acid reflux. Bloating occurs as that mixture continues to produce gas further on down the digestive tract in the intestine, but it's the same root cause: not enough stomach acid.
And all those acid blockers and anti-acids? Well, they might make the symptom of acid reflux go away, but they do nothing to address the root cause of that symptom, which is not having enough stomach acid to properly break down and digest your food. So, even if the reflux is gone, that food and the nutrition therein is even less likely to get digested now that there is barely any stomach acid being produced, and every system in your body suffers (starves) as a result. No bueno.
Thinking this is totally bizarre but intriguing? Download my Fix Your Sh*tty Digestion Cheatsheet (part 1) below and get the protocols that my 1:1 clients use AND my tried-and-true essential oil recommendations for better digestion.
3. Having enough stomach acid is what allows mineral absorption and protein digestion
I know you don't care to hear all the details, so I'll keep this pretty brief and not use any technical jargon:
Protein digestion happens in the highly acidic environment of the stomach, where the minerals that are attached to those proteins are broken off and can be absorbed. It is not an easy process, and without enough acid to do the job, it's almost impossible to get those minerals broken away so they can be absorbed by the body.
For this reason, when stomach acid production is increased, so is the absorption of the minerals that you're already eating, but weren't being absorbed before.
Doesn't sound important? Well, osteoporosis, for example, could be greatly reduced if calcium (a mineral) was able to be absorbed when it was eaten! Most people don't have a problem with getting enough calcium in their diet (hello, cheesy pizza) but it's the absorption of that calcium, due to low stomach acid production, that contributes to a calcium deficiency and bone loss.
Restless leg syndrome and vicious menstrual cramps can be a symptom of low magnesium, and adult acne can be a sign of low zinc...but all of those (and many other examples) could be an inability to absorb those minerals due to low stomach acid.
Have I beaten that dead horse, yet? Time to move on.
4. The proper acidity (think VERY ACIDIC...almost like battery acid) triggers the next phase of digestion
The next phase of digestion happens to be where our liver detoxifies toxins by packaging them up into bile, which digests the fats we eat.
The process of breaking down our food into the very smallest molecules needed for feeling our bodies and rebuilding our tissues is a multi-step process, and hopefully that much is apparent by now.
Furthermore, it is a north to south process, which means that if something goes wrong in the north, or beginning, it triggers an entire chain of events south of that point like a domino effect.
In the case of low stomach acid, there can be many undesirable effects down south that can result: inability to digest fats which leads to indigestion or diarrhea upon eating them, gallbladder attacks, IBS, constipation, bloating, candida overgrowth, leaky gut, SIBO, and more.
So what can you do to increase stomach acid production and get the digestion party started off on the right foot?
1. Get relaxed before you eat (rest + digest)
Remember that the process of digestion starts in the brain? Well, our bodies aren’t designed to break down our food and properly digest when we’re in fight or flight mode, so you have to get relaxed and chill out. This is step 1! Don’t eat standing up, in the car, in front of a screen or when your temper is flaring - all of those will hinder stomach acid production and your digestion is going to suffer.
2. CHEW CHEW CHEW your food!
This is the hardest thing for me to remember to do. I am an olympic-speed type eater by nature, so it’s really a struggle for me to slow down, relax, and eat slowly…but it’s so important. The act of chewing our food mashes up the enzymes in our saliva into the food which starts the process of breaking down carbohydrates while they are still in our mouths.
Why is that important? Well, undigested carbohydrates literally ferment in our stomach and digestive tract (this is why acid reflux and heartburn occur, remember?) and fermentation causes a buildup of gasses, which, in addition to acid reflux and heartburn, also causes bloating and gas.
**Not everyone experiences reflux or heartburn due to inadequate stomach acid, though: I have never had either one of those but I know that my stomach acid was very low a few years ago (before I learned the strategies I am teaching you today!) which caused extreme bloating after meals for me.
All this to say: You need to chew your food WAY MORE than you ever thought. 20x per bite would be ideal, but even 10 is better than what most of us are used to…so start with that if you are really overwhelmed with the thought of chewing each bite into a smoothie consistency. Yum, huh?
3. Give your stomach acid production a turbocharge
There are a few ways that you can increase the production of your stomach acid, but I’ll tell you what my very favorite way is first:
Take a shot of raw ACV diluted in a bit of water 20 minutes before each meal (bonus: probiotics!)
** Use a 3:1 ratio of water to raw ACV and then shoot it (3 oz water + 1 oz raw ACV)**
Still confused? Watch the short video below where I show you my foolproof method for shooting some ACV without gagging or dying.
Can’t do the vinegar no matter what? Try squeezing some fresh lemon juice into a few ounces of water 20 minutes before a meal instead. :)
Stay hydrated! Low stomach acid can be due to straight up dehydration, so make sure you’re drinking enough plain water each day. (Just not with your meals if possible as water dilutes that precious acidity that you’re trying to maximize when you’re digesting a meal.)
This probably goes without saying, but taking acid blockers or antacid tablets in an effort to prevent acid reflux is probably doing more harm than good for your digestion as a whole. I talk all about this in my paid courses because it is critically important, but if you’re looking to permanently fix your crappy digestion as opposed to masking the symptoms of it, you probably want to wean yourself off of your acid blockers. The book “Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You” is an excellent resource for exactly how to go about this process, because it can be a little tricky (depending on how long you have been blocking stomach acid production).
As always, don't just take my word for it! You can't trust everything you read on the internet, you know....Make sure to consult your doctor or practitioner about starting this process.
THAT’S IT FOR PART 1!
Are you ready to experiment with drinking raw apple cider vinegar a few times a day?
I think you're going to love it, so I would suggest giving it a try for a week and then comment below and tell me if you notice a drastic change in your acid reflux, heartburn after meals, or bloating issues...I would love to know!