stress

How to Naturally Support Stomach Acid Production

A lot of factors influence the amount of stomach acid or hydrochloric acid (HCI) our body produces. As we grow older, our bodies naturally produce less but this is also likely a function of our diet and lifestyles as well. Common factors that inhibit HCl production include stress, excess sugar and alcohol consumption, nutritional deficiencies or allergies.

HCl is a critically important part of digestion. It is a gastric secretion originated in the stomach that enables the body to break down proteins (into amino acids to be used for neurotransmitters), activate important enzymes and hormones, and acts as a first line of defense against pathogens, parasites and bacterial overgrowth in the gut. Given that HCl is such a critical part of the process at such an early stage, not having enough can really wreak havoc on the entire digestive chain.

 You might be surprised to know that symptoms of low stomach acid include heartburn, indigestion and bloating. Conventional wisdom has led us to believe that these symptoms are caused by too much stomach acid and doctors commonly provide us with prescriptions for antacids, H-2 receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors all of which are designed to reduce or block stomach acid. Most of the time, people with these symptoms actually have low stomach acid, and not high. These drugs end up masking the problem instead of actually trying to help it and often make the problem even worse.

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Other symptoms of low stomach acid may include a desire to eat when not hungry, a sense of fullness after meals, flatulence, constipation and diarrhea. So many of my clients have at least a couple of these symptoms. So how do we best support our bodies to allow them to naturally increase HCl production?  

Here are my top three suggestions to naturally and easily support HCl production without adding another supplement to your diet. All of these strategies will work best if done 10-15 minutes before you sit down to eat a meal.

  1. Drink warm water with lemon. This will stimulate the production of gastric juices. Use the juice of half a lemon, in warm, but not hot, pure, filtered water. This is my favorite way to start the morning and set myself up for good digestion throughout the day.

  2. Drink apple cider vinegar. Take one to two teaspoons diluted in about a half cup of room temperature water. The key here is, raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (preferably organic). 

  3.  Take bitters before meals. Bitter flavors stimulate the digestive flow, increasing the production of saliva and salivary amylase and triggering stomach acid and other digestive juices. Take about ¼ teaspoon of bitters before your meal (or suggested serving size) straight or diluted in a half cup of water. Make sure to use real bitters (my favorite is Urban Moonshine) that are made from organic ingredients and don’t contain fillers or additives. These days I keep the travel-sized bitters in my bag and use it on the go. Instead of the dropper, it is in a convenient spray able bottle. I use my larger bottle to refill the travel bottle when it runs low.

 These strategies are great for supporting your HCI production and digestion in general, but make sure that you are also in a parasympathetic (rest and digest) state when you eat, eat slowly and chew your food well in order to truly fire up your digestion and have it function the way that it is meant to.

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gerd/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20361959

https://nutritionreview.org/2018/11/gastric-balance-heartburn-caused-excess-acid/

Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You by Jonathan V. Wright

Feel Your Best, Even When Travelling

Sticking to your usual diet and lifestyle routine can seem daunting and stressful when you are travelling, particularly when you are travelling for work. Here are my strategies for feeling your best no matter where your plans lead you. I realize that sometimes we don't want to stick to our schedules when on vacation, for example, so please feel free to take from this post what you want and disregard what you don't find helpful or useful to you.  Travelling can be stressful enough!

Lodging. If possible, find a place that offers a mini-fridge or even a small kitchen in the room in order to store healthy snacks and prep quick meals. Sometimes hotels are the only option, but some may have kitchens or refrigerators available in the room.

Food. You can easily take a variety of foods with you depending on the length of your trip, and the luggage you are travelling with.

For perishable foods, take a small cooler bag along with ice packs to keep foods cold during transit. When flying, if you’re unsure if you will make it through security with your ice packs, bring along a closable bag and get ice from an airport vendor once you’re in the terminal.

You can always prep a few items to bring if you have the time. All of which will survive just fine without ice packs.

  • Precut raw veggies of all kinds (i.e. carrots, celery, broccoli, cucumber, bell pepper)
  • Fruit, wash and bring whole if it travels well or cut up and put in small containers
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Homemade muffins 
  • Homemade granola
  •  Energy bites
  • Trail mix

You can also bring, or purchase any of the following when you arrive at your destination:

  • Bananas, apples, citrus, berries, and avocados
  • Single serving packs or small containers of guacamole, hummus, coconut oil and nut butters
  • A loaf of your favorite bread
  • Packets of plain oatmeal
  • Granola (watch for sugar content and vegetable oils, this one uses a small amount of coconut sugar and coconut oil)
  • Grass-fed yogurt or non-dairy yogurt
  • Grass fed jerky or beef sticks (watch for added sugar)
  • Olives
  • Wild caught tuna, oysters, sardines or salmon in pouches or BPA free cans/tins
  • Hemp hearts, chia seeds, and raw nuts
  • Dried or freeze dried fruit
  • Refined sugar free bars like: RX Bar, Lara Bar, Epic Bar
  • Bars of dark chocolate
  • Saurkraut and/or kombucha to keep your digestion in check

 Eating out. Try not to stress too much about this, especially if you are on vacation.  Sometimes what we eat can’t always be in our control and some balance is good for us. It is ok to not always eat 100% healthy all the time.  If you eat well most of the time, your body can handle some not so great for you meals once in a while. Some digestive enzymes and HCL support can help support your digestion if you are eating things that you are not used to.  A warm cup of lemon water can be helpful too following a meal or in the morning. Here are my tips for when you do what to stay on track:

  • Let wait staff know if you have any dietary restrictions and ask for their suggestions, especially at places where items are not labeled (i.e. gluten free, dairy free
  • When ordering salads, find out what kind of oils they use.  If they don’t know or if they are vegetable oil based, ask for a side of olive oil and lemon wedges or vinegar. Ask them to hold any croutons or cheeses if you’re avoiding gluten and processed dairy.
  • Burgers without the bun or a lettuce wrap are always an easy option.  When in doubt meat or wild-caught fish with vegetables are your best bet. You can avoid sides fried in vegetable oils by asking for a side salad, or steamed or grilled vegetables.
  • Avoid vegetable oils by asking if there is an option to have your meat or vegetables cooked in butter (instead of the typical canola or soybean oil).
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Creature Comforts. Bring your own reusable water bottle and travel mug for coffee or tea to use throughout your trip. Don’t’ forget your usual supplements, favorite teas and additional immune boosting supplements in case you need them. As your digestion can be off when travelling, some extra magnesium can help to keep you relaxed and keep things moving. Natural Calm makes some handy packets that are great when you are on the go. I like to bring my favorite essential oils too, along with a detoxifying face mask or beauty treatment for some inexpensive self-care. I always bring good walking shoes to make sure I can get in some movement and if I have the space I bring my travel yoga mat (if I have room) for hotel room workouts in case there isn’t a good gym or the weather outside isn’t ideal. It is important to note that if you are not up for working out at your usual level, don't stress. Travelling is tiring to your body and this might be a great time to give your body a rest or try a different way of being active or working out that your normally don't do. Keeping as normal of a routine as possible is crucial to overall health and longevity, especially if you travel for work often.  If you are travelling for pleasure, try to unplug and de-stress as much as possible, you have earned it!