Stomach Acid: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You


As a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I view the body’s processes and functions with respect and work with my clients to support each system optimally which leads to overall better health and vitality.  The idea of squelching any process of our normal function is contradictory to my education.

The halting of normal body functioning is exactly what has been happening when over the counter antacids or prescription acid-blocking medications are used regularly.  Stomach acid, or hydrochloric acid, is there for a reason and reducing it on a long-term basis can be detrimental to health.

If television commercials for Tums, Prilosec, Zantac, are used as an indicator, stomach acid is portrayed as something to be eradicated completely.  These over the counter and prescribed band-aids do serve a purpose. They reduce acid in your stomach when you have heartburn. Unfortunately, it is now commonplace for doctors to prescribe long-term use of acid-blocking medications for heartburn.  The diagnosis for their use is usually excess stomach acid, or hyperacidity, which does exist but is uncommon. It may also be prescribed during treatment of an ulcer but the use is usually limited to 6-8 weeks while the ulcer is healing.

Low stomach acid, however, or hypochlorhydria, is very common, especially in the older population.  Stomach acid lessens as we age and, surprisingly, the largest demographic using prescription acid-blocking medications are those 60 and over.  The cost to our health can be devastating when you factor in why stomach acid is so important to our well-being.

3 Reasons Why Low Stomach Acid Hurts You

  • Low Stomach Acid Reduces Your Ability to Fight Off Pathogens

Reducing the stomach’s highly acidic protective environment with acid-blockers leaves us vulnerable to an attack from pathogens entering our bodies  (such as E-Coli and Salmonella!) and also to the friendly bacteria normally living in our small intestines and large intestines. These friendly bacteria, which are necessary for digestion in the small intestine and large intestine, may move north to the stomach if the environment becomes less acidic and they can begin to colonize in an environment that is normally sterile.

  • Low Stomach Acid Disables Your Digestive Process

Proper Digestion is fundamental to good health. Our body relies on digestion to break down our food into a usable form. Low stomach acid reduces this ability and the incomplete digestion of foods leaves us nutritionally deficient.

  • Low Stomach Acid Can Ultimately Leave You Vulnerable to Chronic Disease

Low stomach acid leads to a cascade of dysfunction through the digestive process which ultimately leaves us vulnerable to chronic disease such as IBS,  colitis, celiac disease.

What Causes Low Stomach Acid?

  • Overuse of Acid Blocking Medications - these medications severely reduce stomach acid and leave the door open for pathogens to gain a foothold in your gut and reduce nutrient absorption

  • Chronic Stress - depletes your body of vitamin and minerals, such as D and zinc,  that are necessary for the production of hydrochloric acid

  • A diet high in processed foods, sugar and alcohol - these are foods devoid of nutrients and consuming them regularly burdens your body by leaching it of vitamins and minerals necessary to metabolize these “dead” foods

  • Eating too quickly and on the go - this is a lifestyle habit that wreaks havoc on our digestive system. Our bodies need to be in a parasympathetic mode (rest and digest state) to digest and many of us are eating in sympathetic mode (fight or flight).

  • Overuse of Antibiotics - antibiotic use upsets our microbiome by disrupting the balance of flora in our guts and creating intestinal inflammation.  This gives the opportunity for certain bacteria to overgrow and cause digestive dysfunction.

  • H Pylori Infection - H Pylori is a bacteria that is commonly present in our digestive system but the overuse of antibiotics can cause it to overpopulate and neutralize the effects of stomach acid

  • Overuse of anti-inflammatory medications (prescribed or over the counter) - these medications wear down the stomach lining and decrease the body’s ability to produce stomach acid

  • Aging - As mentioned above, the decline of stomach acid goes along with the aging process

Food Sensitivities - unknown food sensitivities place your body in a state of chronic stress and inflammation.  Ruling out food sensitivity to the most common offenders such as gluten, dairy, soy, corn

How I Can Help You!

As a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I focus on the foundations of your body; digestion, blood sugar balance, mineral needs, fatty acid balance, and hydration. I evaluate each client as a bio-individual and provide lifestyle and nutritional recommendations exclusively for you.  You will also be provided with an abundance of resources and educational material that will give you the tools to create a healthier lifestyle.

If you are suffering from heartburn, I can point you in the direction of healing by:

  • Communicating with your health care practitioner when necessary to develop a coordinated plan towards your nutritional healing and maintenance plan

  • Evaluating your symptoms to determine what your bio-individual needs are and create personalized  lifestyle, foods and/or supplements recommendations that are healing for the stomach/gut

  • Working as a partner to determine if your symptoms are being caused by a food sensitivity, digestive dysfunction, lifestyle habits or possibly a combination of all three

  • Helping you to reduce or remove all inflammatory processed foods and refined sugars and incorporate whole, nutrient-dense, properly prepared foods.  

My goal is for everyone to have an active role in their healthcare.  Ask questions of your doctor, read books, listen to your body and make your health THE number one priority in your life. You only have one body, take care of it!

Christine Cernera