Is your health protocol making you crazy?

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Managing a chronic illness and improving your health can require some drastic lifestyle changes. Although most people report feeling and functioning better on such a protocol, some obsess over the minutiae, spend days on the internet hunting for answers that don’t seem to exist, and worry constantly about their health and whether they’re “following the rules.” The end result? A heap of health-sabotaging stress.

For those prone to anxiety, type A behavior, eating disorders  or wanting to do everything right, a change in diet and lifestyle habits can feel like an endless pop quiz you can never get an “A” on. Additionally, some people have very complex illnesses no one can figure out, so they must hunt down solutions themselves, yet they risk getting bogged down in conflicting information, their own lack of knowledge about basic physiology, or a problem that science simply has not yet solved.

Although strictness is vital in some areas –- a person with gluten sensitivity or a chemical sensitivity needs to vigilantly avoid those substances –- the truth is perfection is an unreasonable goal. For the vulnerable person, trying to follow a protocol perfectly can become a trap that only compounds their illness through constant stress and worry.

Recognizing this tendency, clever marketers and bloggers use fear-based writing to deliver the latest health news. It seems every week a new article is warning you that a particular food, habit, or medication is going to cause dementia or an early death, and that their new supplement or device is the cure.

Health and nutrition have become like religious wars, with gurus and zealots each proclaiming their diet is the only path to good health and anything else will kill you. It’s as if people don’t follow a diet so much as join a cult.

For the chronically ill person who is fatigued, vulnerable, and desperate to get well, forays onto Google in search of help are riddled with such land mines.

It’s a tricky balance to educate yourself and commit to a healing protocol without letting it consume you. It’s important to understand that good health extends beyond physiology to include emotions, beliefs, attitude, and support.

How to keep your health protocol from making you crazy

True, getting well may require some drastic diet and lifestyle changes. But this doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your sanity. Instead, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Studies show a positive attitude is a powerful facet of good health. If you constantly feel negative about your health protocol, it’s time for an attitude adjustment.
  • Research on the placebo effect demonstrates how powerfully our belief systems can influence our success. Put one of the positive visualization tools out there to work for you instead of fretting over every little detail.
  • If you’re coping with an eating disorder, constant anxiety or worry, or a need for perfection, consider one of the many techniques to help reconfigure your subconscious beliefs, such as hypnotherapy, EFT, or EMDR.
  • Studies have shown that stress is toxic and pro-inflammatory. Check in with yourself and see whether you are stressing out over your health protocol. If so, take action to reduce stress and increase relaxation.
  • Find the right kind of support. Research shows healthy socialization is vital to good health. Be careful not to get caught up in a non-stop pity party with other sufferers. Find those who are positive and have helpful information to share.
  • Understand that modern science has its limits and there is still much about human health yet to be discovered. There simply may not yet be an answer to your question or dilemma.

Working with the guidance of someone who understands physiology, functional medicine, and health and nutrition, and who has experience of working with chronic illness can help relieve some of your burden. Ask our office for information on how we can help support you in your journey to better well-being.

Why your doctor can’t help you

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You notice you’re feeling worse and worse. You suffer from chronic fatigue, pain, digestion issues, depression, anxiety, insomnia …. the list goes on. Yet when you go to your doctor, you’re told your lab tests are fine, it’s just age, or perhaps you need an antidepressant. If you press for more tests or keep returning with complaints, you’re labeled a problem patient or told it’s all in your head.

Unfortunately, this happens to untold numbers of people each year. When you can barely muster the energy to get through life’s daily tasks and you have long since abandoned your hobbies, sports, or time with friends, hitting a brick wall at the doctor’s office can fill you with despair.

It isn’t that your doctor is an uncaring person, he or she simply works in a paradigm that is woefully outdated when it comes to the exploding incidences of chronic and inflammatory conditions today. There are instances when conventional medicine is like a miracle, but for the one in five people suffering from autoimmune disease (a disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys tissue in the body or brain), and countless others suffering from undiagnosed autoimmunity, chronic inflammation, severe pain, environmentally induced illnesses, food sensitivities, chronic viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections, brain chemistry imbalances, hormonal imbalances, hair loss, unexplained weight gain, and more — being told your lab tests are fine and you simply need an antidepressant can feel like a kick in the groin.

Medical schools don’t teach nutrition

Medical doctors receive very little nutritional training despite an ever growing body of evidence linking diet with the explosion of chronic diseases today. We know, for instance, that the high blood sugar that comes from eating standard American fare can ultimately lead to diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or heart disease.

The standard approach to autoimmune disease, the occurrence rate of which far surpasses that of cancer and heart disease combined, is to wait until its advanced enough to either surgically remove the affected tissue or administer severe immune-suppressing drugs.

Gluten intolerance is still overlooked by many doctors. Standard testing for gluten sensitivity and celiac disease is limited and outdated, missing countless positive diagnoses. This despite the growing body of evidence that links gluten with autoimmune and neurological conditions. Other dietary proteins can also provoke severe immune reactions, something many doctors are not aware of unless it’s a classical food allergy (which is a different beast than a food sensitivity).

Doctors are constrained by their medical education, which has yet to catch up with modern illnesses. Liability insurance, health insurance, peer pressure, lack of time, and other factors often keep them from investing in the education required to help the millions of people suffering from “mystery” symptoms which, when you look at the science, are not always that mysterious.

Functional medicine for chronic symptoms and illness

Fortunately, functional medicine specializes in using nutritional, botanical, and nutraceutical approaches to manage chronic, inflammatory, and autoimmune conditions. We keep up with the latest science and the latest lab testing, which is integral to unraveling chronic symptoms and conditions. If you’ve hit a dead end with your medical provider, ask our office how functional medicine can help you regain your energy, vitality, and well-being.

Is “silent” autoimmunity causing your mysterious symptoms?

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Autoimmune disease has become frighteningly common today. This degenerative condition, which can affect any tissue in the body or brain, happens when the immune system attacks and destroys the body as if it were a foreign invader. Chances are either you or someone you know has an autoimmune disease. Some of the more commonly known autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and psoriasis.

Although the statistics for autoimmune disease are alarming enough — it affects one in five people, the majority of them women — these numbers do not tell the whole story. The truth is the autoimmune process typically is underway long before the tissue damage is advanced enough for it to be diagnosed as a “disease.”

In fact, some people go an entire lifetime suffering from the symptoms of an autoimmune reaction that never progresses to the disease stage. This is because tissue damage and symptoms have to be quite severe or life threatening before conventional medicine can offer remedies in the way of steroids, chemotherapy drugs, or surgical removal.

This means untold numbers of people suffer from autoimmune reactions that cause symptoms but are not advanced enough to be diagnosed as disease. This creates confusion and frustration for the suffering patient.

For instance, someone with an autoimmune reaction to the pancreas may struggle with keeping her blood sugar stable despite eating a very good diet. This is because she is on the path to possibly developing type 1 diabetes. It’s estimated 10 percent of those with type 2 diabetes, a lifestyle-induced condition, also have pancreatic autoimmunity and thus markers for type 1 diabetes autoimmunity. Another example is autoimmunity that causes hypothyroidism — Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Patients are given thyroid hormone in ever increasing doses but are not instructed on how to dampen or halt the autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland.

People can also have symptoms that suggest multiple sclerosis, arthritis, brain disorders (depression, anxiety, loss of balance, loss of memory, etc.), poor adrenal function, irritable bowel, and others because their immune system is attacking the glands or tissues associated with those symptoms. However, the tissue destruction is not advanced enough to be labeled as a disease and hence medicine has little or nothing to offer.

Fortunately, functional medicine shines in this arena. Specialized lab testing can determine whether autoimmunity is affecting a number of different tissues. Testing can identify (or rule out) the source of chronic, mysterious, and undiagnosable symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, chronic pain, declining brain function, gastrointestinal issues, hair loss, weight gain or weight loss, and more.

This information can validate patients who have long been dismissed or belittled by their doctors for “making things up.” Testing can also uncover autoimmune reactions that are not causing any symptoms. For instance, a person may be producing antibodies (an autoimmune marker) to the sheaths that coat the nerves. In its progressed stage, this becomes multiple sclerosis. Knowing this kind of information can give you more incentive to avoid inflammatory foods and pursue other lifestyle choices that may lower your risk of that silent autoimmune reaction becoming a disease.

In functional medicine we use a variety of strategies to dampen autoimmunity and relieve symptoms. These strategies include an anti-inflammatory diet that removes foods to which you are sensitive and stabilizes blood sugar, minimizing your exposure to toxic chemicals and metals, adopting lifestyle habits that minimize stress and maximize well being (socializing, exercise, play time, laughter, etc.), and the use of natural compounds that dampen inflammation and support the balance of immunity, stress, gut health, and blood sugar.

Ask my office for more information.

Lazy and unmotivated? It’s your health, not your personality

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Are you lazy and unmotivated? Do you have plenty to do, yet spend all your time watching TV or goofing around online, and then beat yourself up for it? Your lack of motivation could signal chronic health issues more so than regrettable character flaws. Although we all need some degree of discipline, life’s daily duties shouldn’t feel like insurmountable chores. Good health means you have the energy, motivation, and desire to not only manage daily life, but also make in time for hobbies, sports, socializing, and special projects.

In functional medicine, laziness and lack of motivation are seen as symptoms of larger health issues that, when addressed and corrected, can make the couch feel like a prison and life outside a playground of adventures waiting to be experienced.

Health issues that can make you lazy and unmotivated

Below are issues that may be sapping your energy, motivation, and desire to more fully live your life.

Blood sugar blues. If you skip breakfast and other meals, subsist on coffee and energy drinks, or if the majority of your meals are based around rice, noodles, pastries, cereal, sugar, and other processed carbohydrates, you are probably riding a roller coaster of blood sugar highs and lows.  Eventually this causes fatigue, brain chemistry imbalances, depression, poor stress-handling, and other fallouts that will send you to the sofa.

Hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. It is the leading cause of hypothyroidism and causes symptoms that include depression, fatigue, weight gain, lethargy, and low motivation. If you have lost your get-up-and-go, have your thyroid screened using functional medicine lab ranges.

Brain chemistry imbalance. Brain chemicals called neurotransmitters relay messages between neurons and play a large role in how we feel and function. When the neurotransmitter dopamine is low it can cause poor motivation and low self-esteem. Serotonin, GABA, and acetylcholine are other neurotransmitters that affect mood, energy, and motivation. Hormonal imbalances, hypothyroidism, high or low blood sugar, and chronic stress are factors that can skew neurotransmitters.

Brain fog. Brain fog is a symptom of brain inflammation. It simply means your brain is firing slowly, causing that heavy, thick, tired feeling in your brain. Things that can cause brain fog include chronic inflammation, an autoimmune reaction in the brain (when the immune system attacks the brain), food sensitivities, hypothyroidism, leaky gut, and hormonal imbalances.

Gluten intolerance. Gluten intolerance has become more common and really drains the energy out of some people. It also causes inflammation, depression, fatigue, and other symptoms that make the couch awfully inviting. Other foods that may cause these reactions include dairy, eggs, soy, corn, and other grains.

Leaky gut. Leaky gut means the lining of the small intestine has become inflamed and overly porous, allowing undigested food particles, bacteria, fungus, and other pathogens into the bloodstream, where they don’t belong. This triggers inflammation in the body and brain. The result can be fatigue, lethargy, lack of motivation, and other couch potato characteristics.

These are just a few examples of how a subtle but chronic health issue can drain you of your drive. Of course, it’s hard to make drastic lifestyle changes when you have no energy or motivation, but start with something small and gradually add in new changes. Ask my office for help on restoring the energy and vitality you were meant to enjoy in life.

Best Vegetables For Healthy Living

vegetablesEveryone knows that introducing vegetables to your diet will leave you feeling healthier and stronger, giving you a better chance at a long and fruitful life. However, there are some vegetables that are even better for you than others. If you want to discuss your diet options further in detail, you should call a naturopathic doctor in Portland and form a nutrition plan that works with your schedule and your healthy living program. If you just want some recommendations for healthy vegetables, however, the following guide should be able to help you out. Most of these vegetables are readily available without much work on the end of the consumer. Know that mixing these vegetables together often is much healthier than simply living on one of them.

Broccoli

Broccoli is easy to prepare and has many of the best vegetable qualities. It fights a number of diseases and is packed with numerous antioxidants. These antioxidants will fight stomach, lung, and prostate cancer, giving you a health boost every time you eat broccoli. Broccoli is also great for boosting you immune system, making you less likely to catch common colds and the flu.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts are especially important for women who are pregnant, as they are packed with folic acid, a B-vitamin that fights against neural tube defects. Brussels Sprouts are also packed with potassium, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which will go a long way in keeping you healthy well into the future.

Eggplant

One of the best vegetables for your heart, eggplants are rich in antioxidants that will fight against and work to prevent such issues as stroke and dementia. They are also one of the best vegetables for your brain, keeping you sharp and in complete control of how your body functions.

Spinach

No list of healthy vegetables is complete without the mention of spinach. Spinach is packed with nearly every vitamin and nutrient you need every day, making it a valuable addition to the diet of anybody. Spinach-rich diets are great for preventing heart disease, colon cancer, and even arthritis. Mix spiniach in with other foods to get a healthy meal whenever you are feeling hungry.

Blood sugar often at the root of chronic health problems

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Often chronic health problems can be traced back to one thing: unstable blood sugar that comes from eating too many desserts, sweet coffee drinks, processed grains (bread, pasta, etc.), and other starchy foods. Our cultural complacency with high-carbohydrate diets has made us the most obese and chronically sick population in the world.

How blood sugar becomes imbalanced

We only needs about a teaspoon’s worth of sugar in the bloodstream at any one time, a level we can meet just by eating vegetables. Consistently indulging in high-carb foods — dessert, pasta, potatoes, rice, sweet coffee drinks – requires the pancreas to secrete increasingly larger amounts of insulin to lower overly high blood sugar. These insulin surges cause blood sugar to drop too low and create symptoms. As a result, you crave sugar or high-carb foods to reboot your blood sugar, which starts the whole cycle all over again. Although these blood sugar highs and lows constitute a normal day for many Americans, they underpin many chronic health issues, including hormonal issues, autoimmune flare ups, fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia, poor brain function, chronic pain, and more.

Eventually, these extremes exhaust the body’s cells. In a move of self-protection they turn off their receptors for insulin so that neither insulin nor glucose can get into the cells. This is called becoming insulin resistant and is a stepping-stone to diabetes. Blood sugar levels remain too high in the bloodstream, damaging the arteries and the brain, while glucose can’t get into the cells to make energy, causing fatigue. The excess glucose in the bloodstream is eventually converted to fat for storage.

What is normal blood sugar

You can test your fasting blood sugar with a store-bought glucometer  Fasting means you have gone at least 12 hours without eating or drinking anything other than water; it’s best to test first thing in the morning.

The lab range for fasting blood glucose levels is usually 70 to 105 mg/dL. In functional medicine we like to see your fasting blood glucose level between 85 and 99 and consider anything over 100 to signify insulin resistance. The American Diabetic Association designates a fasting blood sugar level of 106 to 126 to be insulin-resistant or prediabetes, while anything above 127 is diabetes.

Symptoms of low blood sugar

If your blood sugar is below 85, it is important that you eat every two to three hours to keep blood sugar stable. You don’t have to eat a whole meal, just a few bites of a low-carb, sugar-free snack between meals and a light snack before bed.

  • Craving for sweets
  • Irritability if meals are missed
  • Dependency on coffee for energy
  • Becoming lightheaded if meals are missed
  • Eating to relieve fatigue
  • Feeling shaky, jittery, or tremulous
  • Feeling agitated or nervous
  • Become upset easily
  • Poor memory, forgetfulness
  • Blurred vision
  • Insulin Resistance

Symptoms of high blood sugar

If your blood sugar is over 99 you may have insulin resistance. You need to moderate your carb intake so you don’t feel sleepy after meals and avoid overeating. It’s also important to exercise regularly to help the cells become more sensitive to insulin. If your blood sugar is over 126 you should be screened for diabetes.

  • Fatigue after meals
  • General fatigue
  • Constant hunger
  • Craving for sweets that is not relieved by eating them
  • Must have sweets after meals
  • Waist girth equal to or larger than hip girth
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased appetite and thirst
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Migrating aches and pains

Ask my office for more advice on balancing your blood sugar for better health.

Lost libido can signal need for health tune-up

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Do you vaguely remember a time when you had a libido? Sexual desire is a sign of good health and if yours is absent, it may be your body needs a tune up. Of course major stressors, traumas, bad relationships, raising babies, and other chaotic intrusions can squash your libido, but you should otherwise consider it a normal part of life. If yours has gone missing it’s your body’s way of raising a red flag to gain your attention.

People who use functional medicine to improve their health commonly report a return of their libido, even though that may not be what drove them to seek help in the first place. Instead they may have come for hypothyroidism, depression, fatigue, pain, or some other chronic condition.

When a chronic health issue has you in its grips, it’s no wonder libido disappears — coping with constant illness and discomfort leaves room for little else. On the other hand, some people’s chronic issues are subtle enough they don’t know their health is flagging, just that their libido is.

Factors that can cause low libido

Below are some factors that can contribute to your loss of libido:

Adrenal fatigue. Your adrenal glands sit atop each kidney and secrete hormones to help you cope with stress. Most people deal with so much stress that the adrenal glands and the adrenal pathways in the brain start to falter. This is one of the primary causes of hormonal imbalances, especially in women, and can lead to loss of libido.

Leaky gut. Leaky gut means the small intestine has become overly porous from damage and inflammation. When the gut is leaky, undigested foods, bacteria, and other compounds slip into the bloodstream where they don’t belong. This has been shown to trigger inflammation, pain, depression, fatigue, autoimmune flare ups, inflammatory bowel disorders, and other chronic problems that leave one feeling decidedly unsexy.

Gluten intolerance. Gluten? Really? Yes, gluten wreaks such havoc that sometimes it is the main cause of myriad health disorders, including autoimmune disease, skin rashes, joint pain, irritable bowel disorders, fatigue, depression, brain fog, and so on. Just removing this one food can restore enough vigor and vitality so that libido robustly returns. You may also need to avoid other foods, such as dairy, other grains, eggs, or soy. Getting the right food sensitivity test can help you determine which foods might be mooching your mojo.

Low blood sugar or high blood sugar. If your blood sugar is out of whack it’s going to bring the rest of your body down, particularly your hormone function. Skipping breakfast, skipping meals, and subsisting on coffee and pastries, pasta dishes, smoothies, or other high-carb meals is a recipe for hypoglycemia. This causes irritability, spaciness, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and other libido-sapping symptoms. On the other hand, overeating and eating too many sweets and high-carb foods can cause blood sugar to be too high, which brings its own set of symptoms, particularly feeling sleepy after meals. Many people swing between the two, which is very stressful on the body and robs you of a healthy libido.

These are just some basic underlying causes of the many health disorders that often result in loss of libido. Of course it can be more complicated, but one must always start with the foundations of good health. From good health springs a healthy libido, which can in turn provide for a more satisfying relationship with your loved one.

Ask my office for support in helping restore your libido.

What is leaky gut and why should you care?

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Leaky gut conjures unpleasant imagery of intestinal contents spilling into the body. Unfortunately, that is pretty much what happens, and the results are a wide array of chronic health issues. When compounds from the intestines pass through a damaged gut wall into the sterile environment of the bloodstream, they can trigger various health conditions: skin problems, joint pain, chronic pain, autoimmune disease, mysterious symptoms, puffiness, fatigue, brain fog, depression, anxiety disorders, poor memory, asthma, food allergies and sensitivities, seasonal allergies, fungal infections, migraines, arthritis, PMS, and more.

Leaky gut is also referred to as intestinal permeability, and means the lining of the small intestine has become inflamed, damaged, and overly porous. This allows undigested foods, bacteria, molds, and other compounds to enter into the bloodstream. Because these compounds don’t belong there, the immune system views them as toxic and attacks them. This in turn causes inflammation, which is at the heart of so many chronic health problems today.

Leaky gut now medically recognized

Leaky gut was once maligned by conventional medicine as naturopathic folklore, but researchers have now validated it and linked it with many chronic disorders. It’s fortunate this condition is gaining a foothold because the gut is our largest immune system organ. Studies have now linked it with inflammatory bowel disorders, gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, type 1 diabetes, depression, psoriasis, and more. Given the influence of gut health on immunity, repairing leaky gut is vital to managing any chronic health disorder.

How to repair leaky gut

It’s important to know what contributed to your leaky gut when you work to repair it as this will better your chances of recovery. However, diet is foundational regardless the cause.

This is because the most common cause of leaky gut is a poor diet of processed foods and excess sugars. Food intolerances also play a major role, especially a gluten intolerance. A leaky gut diet, also known as an autoimmune diet, has a strong track record of helping people repair leaky gut. Keeping blood sugar stable is also important as blood sugar that gets too low or too high contributes to leaky gut. This requires eating regularly enough so you don’t “bonk” and avoiding too many carbohydrates that can send blood sugar soaring and crashing.

Other common causes of leaky gut include antibiotic use, overuse of NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, drinking too much alcohol, an imbalance of gut bacteria, hypothyroidism, and autoimmunity. Many nutrients can help repair a leaky gut, but it’s important to also address what caused it. If you have an autoimmune condition, managing leaky gut can be a lifelong process requiring food restrictions and careful attention to lifestyle to prevent provoking inflammation and flare ups.

A leaky gut protocol is foundational to improving health. Not only can it relieve symptoms but it can also improve energy, enhance well being, make you happier, and clear your head. Ask my office for advice on implementing a leaky gut diet and protocol.

Tips For Finding A Naturopathic Physician

naturopathic physicianIf you are looking for a naturopathic physician, the quest can be difficult. There are many offices that promise various services, but it is difficult sometimes to find one that works with you, your body type, and the goals you hope to accomplish. If you do want to find a naturopathic doctor in Portland, there are several things you can do to ensure you get one that you can trust with your body and your goals. Your health is incredibly important, and finding a naturopathic physician that you can trust goes a long way to reaching your full health potential.

Get Recommendations

The first step you can take advantage of is to get a recommendation from someone you know. Friends and family who have experience with a naturopathic physician can set you up with a trusted one and get you on the right track for healthy living. Chances are you will get along much better with a physician who already gets along with one of your family members or friends. If it is a family member, your body types may be similar as well, meaning the physician will be able to help you out a lot better that someone coming in cold. If you do not have a friend or family member that has any experience with a naturopathic physician, you can get online reviews and recommendations to help you form a better picture of the office you are looking at for care.

Discuss Schedules

Your physician should be able to work with your schedule and set up a program to help you with your health goals. Meet closely with your prospective selections and talk about health goals and ways to accomplish them. If you do not like the program that the physician lays out for you, you should look elsewhere for assistance. Having a physician that sets up a custom program that works especially for you is the way to go when it comes to these sorts of things. You also want to ensure you communicate well with the physician. If you do not, find someone else who you will communicate with. Miscommunication can lead to trouble later on down the line.

Too little stomach acid often causes heartburn, not too much

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Are you one of the 20 percent of Americans with acid reflux and heartburn? You’re probably chalking the problem up to too much stomach acid, but in many cases it’s the opposite causing the problems – too little stomach acid is the culprit behind those fiery episodes that feel like they’re burning a hole in your chest.

How can that be possible?

The environment of the stomach is highly acidic so that it can quickly break down meats and other foods, protect you from poisoning and infection from bacteria, fungi, and other toxins, and help you better absorb minerals. Good stomach acidity also helps ensure smooth function of the rest of the digestive tract and can help relieve not only heartburn but also indigestion, belching, gas, constipation, bloating, yeast overgrowth, food allergies, and other symptoms related to compromised digestion.

Why is stomach acid low?

Various factors can cause insufficient stomach acid. Stress, bacterial infection, poor diet, and nutritional deficiencies can hinder the stomach’s production of hydrochloric acid (HCl), or stomach acid. The most common cause of low stomach acid is infection from H. pylori, a bacteria also linked with stomach ulcers.

Pernicious anemia, hypothyroidism, a deficiency of zinc, B12, magnesium, or chloride can also contribute to the problem. Long-time vegetarians or vegans may be deficient in zinc and B12, as these are found in meats, and may need the support of HCl supplementation when adding meat back into their diet.

How low stomach acid causes heartburn

The stomach contents must be very acidic to trigger the release of food from the stomach into the small intestine. When stomach acid is too low it fails to trigger this release because the contents are not the right acidity to safely enter the small intestine.

As a result, the trapped food shoots back up into the esophagus. Although stomach acid is too low, it is still too acidic for the delicate tissue of the esophagus. This causes that fiery burning and pain of heartburn and acid reflux.

Why antacids and acid blockers can make the problem worse

Antacids or acid blockers bring temporary relief but may cause long-term problems with your overall digestive function. Proper acidity of the stomach triggers the pancreas to secrete digestive enzymes and the gallbladder to secrete bile. Enzymes and bile help ensure proper nutrient absorption, fat emulsification, protection against infections and parasites, and proper functioning of the large intestine.

Chronically low stomach acid hinders the function of these organs, often leading to larger problems throughout the digestive tract.

Correcting low stomach acid

If stomach acid is too low the most important thing to do is address the root cause, whether it is nutritional deficiency, hypothyroidism, or an H. pylori infection. You can also boost stomach acid by taking an HCl supplement. Just be aware that if you have gastric lesions or an autoimmune reaction to the tissue in your stomach, an HCl supplement could make you feel worse.

Ask my office for advice on whether you need supplemental HCl and how to use it safely and for the best results if you have heartburn or acid reflux. We can also help you get to the root cause of your digestive issues.