I’ve got a fire in my….stomach

Heartburn, Indigestion, Diarrhea

Oh that burning feeling! It might come with bloating, belching and gas. It’s an extremely uncomfortable feeling, it keeps you up at night or wakes you up in the middle of the night and the only relief you get is when you take copious amounts of antacids.

……”Hand over the Tums!”       Heartburn, Indigestion, Diarrhea              

The antacids eventually lose their effectiveness but your stomach burns so much you’ve visited the doctor who hands you a prescription to get the serious stuff…the antacids you can’t get over the counter. You down the pills, exhale a sigh of relief, feel okay but eventually the symptoms return…and they always return, especially when you eat something spicy or acidic like tomato sauce…or just eat.

No one wants to be bloated, feel like acid is going to burn through your stomach, belch like a fire breathing dragon and maybe even pass gas that makes flies drop. But, these symptoms are not likely because of too much acid in your stomach. They are more than likely due to too little. Huh? what the heck are you saying?

Low Hydrochloric Acid (HCI)…a.ka. Stomach Acid

What is it?

Low HCI is a state in which the stomach does not secrete enough HCI to digest food; in particular proteins. The parietal cells in your stomach should secrete HCI whenever food enters your stomach. Without enough HCI the process of digestion is severely thwarted leading to that burning, bloating, gassy, belchy feeling.

What does it do?

When your parietal cells secrete adequate amounts of HCI, the HCI does five things in your stomach…

  • activates pepsin which is a digestive enzyme that helps to digest proteins.
  • activates intrinsic factor which is needed for vitamin B12 absorption (B12 is necessary for numerous functions including the proper functioning of your brain).
  • ionizes minerals (a process that chemically changes minerals) from food to allow for their absorption into your body.
  • sterilizes parasites that enter your stomach in food
  • allows food in the stomach to reach within the specific pH range (acidic range) required for it to pass from the stomach into the small intestine to continue the digestion process.  In other words more acidic is better.

When HCI is low in your stomach enough pepsin isn’t activated, too little intrinsic factor is secreted, minerals aren’t ionized for absorption, parasites are not killed and food does not reach the required pH level to move on to the next stage of digestion.

So then what happens to the food? In a nutshell, it kinda gets stuck in your stomach and rots.

It stays in the stomach for a while and ferments and putrefies. Yuck! Fermentation acids form, that’s what causes the burning feeling. Eventually, little bits of it are released into your small intestine but the only thing the fermented and putrefied food does is feed bad bacteria and wreak havoc on your body. End result – you feel like crap and your body gets very little if any nourishment from the food.

Why would you have low HCI?

Many people suffer from low HCI, here are some common causes…

  • high caffeine consumption
  • Smoking
  • consuming a lot of dairy
  • drinking ice cold beverages or carbonated beverages with meals
  • stress
  • chlorine and fluoride in drinking water
  • stomach acid also decreases with age.
  • use of antacids

“Antacids do help you feel better but the more you take is the more you aggravate the problem. This is because they are “anti-acids”, i.e. they prevent acid from forming.”


Common signs that you have low HCI…

  • burning sensation in stomach, a.k.a. heartburn/indigestion
  • constipation and/or diarrhea, bloating, gas, abdominal pain (symptoms of IBS)
  • chronic fatigue, feeling tired after eating, inflammation – (symptoms of leaky gut)
  • undigested food particles in your stool
  • allergies
  • mineral deficiencies

Low HCI, IBS, FatigueFatigue, allergies, and joint pain are caused by fermentation and putrefaction which feed bad bacteria in the gut and compromise the intestinal permeability of the lining of the gut. These symptoms are typical of leaky gut syndrome and dysbiosis.

Fatigue is directly associated with dysbiosis which is directly related to low HCI which promotes an environment of unhealthy gut flora. The dysbiosis can be from putrefaction, fermentation, bacterial overgrowth, fungus, parasites, immune-inflammatory response and hypersensitive-allergic response.

Allergies can be triggered by protein antigens when there isn’t enough HCI in the stomach to activate pepsin which is the enzyme that digests proteins. Allergies can also be triggered by bacterial toxins which are not sterilized due to low HCI.

Joint pain is also a response to antigens. It is an autoimmune response with antibodies resulting in inflammation which causes the joint pain.

What can you do about it?

  • take a Betaine HCI + pepsin supplement before each meal
  • have 1 tablespoon of organic Apple Cider before each meal
  • use bitters (example: dandelion root/leaves, globe artichoke, gentian (will help with mild cases of low HCI)

Other suggestions to help with digestion….

  • take digestive enzymes with each meal
  • regularly eat fermented foods: kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt
  • chew your food thoroughly
  • eat the protein portion in your meal first
  • limit your sugar intake
  • avoid antacids
  • eliminate/significantly reduce caffeine consumption
  • reduce dairy consumption
  • stop smoking!
  • drink room temperature water
  • do not rush eating
  • avoid stress; do not eat when you are very stressed


Sometimes trusting your gut isn’t a good thing. This is one of those times as that uncomfortable burning feeling is more than likely not due to too much acid in your stomach but due to too little.

Your gut health is the key to your health. Treat it right and it will be nice to the rest of your body.


Live Healthy, Be Happy!

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