What to do for Low Stomach Acid

Bloating, Gastrointestinal Distress, Fatigue – sound familiar? Your stomach issues may feel like a mystery, especially because they can be so difficult to diagnose. Having low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) is a common issue that you may have never heard of, but if you’re having digestion issues it might be worth looking into to see if it might be the culprit.

You might already know that high stomach acid causes heartburn, but did you know that low stomach acid does too? In fact, a lot of people begin treating what they believe is high stomach acid production when it’s actually low acid production they are dealing with. How can you be sure? Here are some other symptoms of low stomach acid:

Symptoms of Low Stomach Acid

  • Indigestion
  • Burping
  • Nausea
  • Gas
  • Protein and Iron Deficiency
  • Fatigue
  • Recurring ulcers
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Having trouble digesting animal protein, especially red meat, is an indicator that you have low stomach acid. This is because protein is broken down primarily in the stomach and protein digestion relies heavily on stomach acid to be broken down.

How can you test for Low Stomach Acid?

There are more concrete ways to test for low stomach acid. This includes the Gastric Acid Secretion Test, The Baking Soda Stomach Acid Test, and the Betaine HCL Challenge test. The Betaine HCL is a commonly used and also easy one to do at home. All you need is a Betaine HCL supplement. In the middle of a high protein meal, take one dose of the HCL.

If you soon feel a burning sensation (heartburn) or a heavy feeling in your chest, that is an indication that you have adequate stomach acid levels. If you notice no changes and your food digests well, it indicates that you have low stomach acid.

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What To Do About Low Stomach Acid

Start Off Slow. Eat animal protein and other high protein foods in moderate amounts. Simply put: go easy on the 20 oz steaks. If animal protein is a part of your diet, work yourself up to your desired portions over time as you build up more stomach acid.

Eat or Drink Apple Cider Vinegar. Apple Cider Vinegar promotes healthy stomach acid production. You can drink it diluted in water, or you can add it to a salad as part of the dressing.

Eat Ginger. Ginger is soothing to the digestive system and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Add it to your dishes, or drink it grated in some hot water.

Eliminate Processed Foods. Processed foods can be hard on your stomach and promote inflammation, aggravating your stomach. Eating whole foods, which are easily recognizable to your stomach, are easier to break down. Go easy on your stomach and stick to whole foods while you get your stomach acid levels back up, and then you can decide to proceed onto processed foods in moderation.

No Beverages During Meals. Save your beverage – even water – for after your meals. A lot of liquid during your meals can dilute your gastric juices. Diluting your stomach acid will lead you to have a tougher time digesting your food.

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Those 5 tips, especially in combination, will help you build up healthy stomach acid levels again. Ensuring that you have healthy stomach acid levels will help you with digestion and uptake of nutrients, which is important in your wellbeing overall.

Sources
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2543192
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1494327
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27574495

5 Different Ways to Use Kimchi

So you want to improve your gut health, but you need a practical way to go about it. I get it. A lot of the time we are given advice telling us where we need to go, but hardly ever telling us how to get there. When it comes to health, I prefer to start with food (duh!).

Getting inspired through recipes helps me and my clients in the journey towards the actual goal. If you care about your gut health and want some practical tips on improving it, read this post to find out how you can include probiotic-rich kimchi at any time of day.

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What is Kimchi?

Kimchi is a Korean staple made from salted and fermented cabbage. Typical additions include gochugaru (Korean red pepper), ginger, garlic, scallions, and Korean radishes. The fermentation process provides kimchi with amazing gut-supportive benefits. It is high in probiotics, and therefore supports the health of the gastrointestinal system.

The health of our immune system, the nervous system, the immune system and more relies on the health of our gastrointestinal system. Without proper gut health, we are impaired in absorbing nutrients and deriving from food all that we need to. That’s why it’s a great idea to start including probiotic-rich foods like kimchi.

When purchasing, be sure to buy kimchi that needs to be refrigerated. This will be the fresh, high probiotic, and better quality stuff. Find it at your local Asian market, grocer, or health food store.

5 Different Ways to Use Kimchi

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Serve it for Breakfast with Eggs

Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse, but lets face it, sometimes they can be a little bland. Adding kimchi provides a kick without having to put in too much effort. If you’re plant-based, try making a tofu scramble and adding kimchi. In both cases, you don’t want to cook the kimchi, as this can compromise the probiotic content. Just add it on when you are ready to serve. You’ll be setting up yourself up for a gut-healthy day.

Add it to Any Salad

The older I get the more I realize how amazing salads really are – I mean, it’s just a bowl of (usually cold) stuff you like all mixed together. Adding kimchi is easy, and with any asian inspired salad it will fit right in. Try it with my Edamame and Greens Salad, or just add it to some lettuce, cucumber, protein and be done with it!

Enhance your Bowl of Soup

Kimchi has a powerful flavour that can bring out the best in any soup. Just a reminder: you don’t want to boil the kimchi with your soup, but just add it right before serving. Cooking the kimchi on high heat can reduce the probiotic content.

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Add it to a Charcuterie Board or Abundance Platter

Abundance Platters and Charcuterie Boards have quickly become a favourite way to feed guests, probably because they are so easy and versatile to put together. But I know sometimes, it’s easy to get to snacking and overdo it. Adding kimchi will help support your guts ability to break down and process what’s been eaten. Consider adding a bit to your next party platter – even if it’s a party for one.

Top it on your Tacos

I love Tex-Mex tacos as much as the next person, but sometimes it’s nice to switch it up. Asian style tacos with a soft tortilla or lettuce base are a great vessel for pretty much anything you can imagine. Add in Korean beef, Sweet Garlic Soy Tofu, shredded carrots, cucumber, rice, or anything else you can imagine. Top with kimchi, and you’ve got something pretty magnificent for a meal.

 

Now you have quite a few good ideas of how to use kimchi, and I hope you will take them and run. Starting in your gut is a great way to begin improving your health overall, and adding kimchi into your food routine gives you an easy way to accomplish that.

Have you tried kimchi? Would you use it in any of the ways I’ve suggested? Let me know in the comments below.

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What’s the Difference Between Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes?

It makes me so excited to see people getting interested in gut health. Why? Because the health of your gut is linked to the health of all your other body systems – including your nervous system. And let’s face it: with all the refined convenience foods we’ve gotten used to eating, our digestive systems have become a bit out of whack. Now it’s time to get them back on track!

Aside from making diet changes, supplementation is one of the best ways to improve your gut health. But with all the information out there different supplements it’s easy to get confused. In this article we are going to break down the two main gut-helping supplements: probiotics and digestive enzymes. When it comes down to it, they are really different, but don’t worry, we’ll help you figure out which one is right for you.

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Probiotics

Probiotics are essentially “good” bacteria. And if right now you’re thinking “ew, why would I want to eat bacteria????”, let me explain. Your gut is home to hundreds of different kinds of bacteria. Many of these play a very important role in digestion, supporting the immune system, and even synthesizing certain vitamins.

However, there are also some not-so-good ones. Overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut can lead to digestive issues like bloating, constipation, gas, and acid reflux. Some people also experience fatigue. Researchers now also believe that an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut can affects your mood, via the gut-brain axis.

It is really important in your gut microbiome that the good bacteria outweigh the bad. You can increase the amount of good bacteria by drinking and eating more fermented foods, but of course supplementation is always an option too.

How do you know if you need probiotics? 

If you have digestive issues after you eat, and it seems to not matter what you eat, probiotics might help. However, a diet change is also really important when it comes to helping your gut. You should be eating lots of fiber, drinking tons of water, and also cutting down on refined foods and foods high in processed sugar. The bad bacteria in your gut feed off of these kinds of food, so cutting those foods out while adding in good bacteria to crowd them out is a smart strategy.

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Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are just that – enzymes. When you eat different macronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins), your pancreas releases different enzymes to help with digestion. In fact, it has different enzymes for each macronutrient. For example, amylase helps digest carbohydrates.

How do you know if you need digestive enzymes?

A poor diet, or a diet with a lot of a caffeine and alcohol, can decrease the amount of enzymes made by your pancreas over time. Digestive enzyme production can also simply decrease with age. You shouldn’t feel like there is a “rock in your stomach” after you eat! If your stomach feels heavy and uncomfortable after a meal, digestive enzymes are worth trying.

Most enzymes on the market will come with enzymes to digest all 3 macronutrients. You can buy enzymes that will work for just one type. For instance, if you know that fat is what you struggle to digest you can find digestive lipase on it’s own. However most people by a complex that has enzymes for carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

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Make sure to buy quality products when you are looking at supplements. Yes, they typically cost more – but they are also worth the money. With generic brands, you might as well throw it away.

If you are unsure about adding new supplements to your wellness routine, don’t forget to consult with your health professional first to make sure they are right for you. It is good to ensure that you won’t have any contraindications with your other medications.

That being said, both probiotics and digestive enzymes are completely safe to use. And both can help you get your gut to optimal health –  especially when used together. If gut health is your priority, give them a try.

Are you currently taking probiotics or digestive enzymes? How have they helped you? I would love to hear your feedback below! 

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Beat the Holiday Bloat! 3 TOTALLY FREE ways to improve your digestion.  

Beating the bloat this time of year isn’t easy – with the holidays fast approaching we begin eating stuff that isn’t normally in our day-to-day diet.

Cakes, cookies, and other Christmas treats. I would never tell you to skip out on those! But I do want to pass on to you 3 totally free ways to improve your digestion, so you can maintain better gut health no matter what time of year it is. 

Before I get going I just want to say that these three strategies have made such a difference for me personally, and I practice what I preach. I’ve been working on my gut health for at least the last year so you guys know I wouldn’t lead you astray!

What is surprising about these three tips is their simplicity. If I can do it, you can do it. Best of all they cost: nothing 😊

  1. Chew your food – thoroughly! Did you guys know that carbohydrates begin their breakdown process in your mouth? There is an enzyme in your saliva that works to break them down. So the more you get that food mixed around in your mouth, the better! Plus, the more you mechanically break down your food with your teeth, the less work your stomach has to do.
  2.  Chill while you fill.So many of us are used to eating “on the go” in a hurried state. When you eat under stress, all of the blood in your body is sent to your extremities (arms and legs). So of course, the blood isn’t circulating at that time where it should be, which is to your gut! So stop the working, or the running, or the 9 thousand other things you are trying to accomplish during your meal and take the time to simply eat. Relaxing while eating can also help you be mindful about what you are putting in your body, and how much.
  3. Drink more water. I know I know, you’ve heard this a thousand times before! But have you ever actually done anything about it? So many of us are walking around chronically dehydrated with either no idea, or no will to try. But as a heavy duty coffee consumer I have to say that this change has been paramount for me.Your body needs water to properly eliminate AKA poop. If you aren’t going number two, then food isn’t moving through your intestines and eventually your stomach efficiently. I have been chronically dehydrated for years (YES YEARS) and drinking more water has completely changed the game for me.

*Side note: don’t be drinking water with your meals! I know it is a common thing in this society, but this actually dilutes the hydrochloric acid produced by your stomach, and this acid works so much better concentrated.

 

 

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