Why adequate stomach acid levels are vital

Why adequate stomach acid levels are vital
By Anuradha Sawhney Nov 13 2014
Tags: Leisure Writing
Ritoo Bajaj was losing hair in large quantities. She changed her brand of shampoo but it did not help. She took supplements of vitamin B12 and ensured that her vitamin D3 levels were optimal. She tried different vaids and hakims in a bid to stop the hair loss. All to no avail.

Then, someone guided her to Dr Hemant Phatak who listened to her story, then asked about her digestive history. On being told that she suffered from regular heartburn attacks, especially after eating, and had a lot of gas and bloating, he asked her to check her stomach acid levels. She told him that her regular doctor had treated her for excessive stomach acid on numerous occasions and in fact she almost always consumed an antacid after each meal. Phatak insisted on her checking her stomach acid levels. The results surprised her.

Dhruv Chandiram is in his early 40s and has a stressful job where he works long hours, sometimes over 14 hours at a stretch. He is unable to eat at regular times, and picks up food whatever he can when he gets a chance. He suffers from regular acidity attacks, especially by evening time. Sometimes he feels that the acid rising from the stomach will suffocate him. The burning is terrible. He carries a bottle of antacid around with him and at the first sign of any discomfort, he takes a spoonful or two.

Bajaj was found to have low levels of stomach acid (hypochlorhydria). She started a home remedy of consuming apple cider vinegar before her two main meals. Because she wanted a long term cure, Phatak prescribed tablets made from beetroot extracts which help to increase acid levels in the stomach. Today, after ten years of having suffered digestive acidity trouble, Bajaj is finally at ease. Best of all, her hair fall has stopped.

Cases of people taking antacids and acid blocking tablets are on the rise. Doctors prescribe them when someone complains of heartburn, acid reflux or other similar digestive conditions. They treat what they think is excessive stomach acid being produced in the stomach. Their stomach acid levels are hardly ever tested, and people pop antacids or other medicines to reduce acid levels.

Low stomach acid and excessive stomach acid symptoms are similar and so doctors tend to treat acidity problems with acid blocking medication. This is why many people are rarely fully cured, since the root of their problem is often low levels of stomach acid, and they are given medicine to lower their stomach acid even more.

As I have mentioned before, if stomach acid levels are not adequate, nutrients like minerals, vitamins and proteins, carbohydrates and fats, among others cannot be digested by the body. Also, immunity of the body is impaired as normally it is the stomach acid which kills any bacteria or harmful organism which enter the stomach. Without adequate acid levels, bad bacteria thrive in the stomach and food instead of getting digested starts to ferment because of the bacteria.

This acidic mix from the stomach often regurgitates back via the esophagus, causing acid reflux. The pain, when this happens, is terrible since the esophagus lining is not protected against the acid. Low stomach acid can lead to many problems, including stomach cancer.

(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)


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