We shout at the TV a lot.
Adverts drive us bonkers. If it’s not the Actimel adverts promoting friendly gut bacteria (that contain high levels of sugar which bad bacteria feeds from) it’s the cosmetic adverts promoting youth as if being a woman past 35 is something to be shameful of. And don’t get me started on the shaving adverts…
But there is one advert that makes us fume above all others. And that’s the acid ingestion / heartburn adverts.
Many of us know acid related indigestion, heartburn or dyspepsia from first-hand experience. The assumption is that there is always too much acid in the stomach. The adverts with the cartoon firemen soothing away the burning fire in our guts only reinforce that heartburn equals too much acid.
But here’s the problem. Numerous studies show that the incidence of heartburn increases with age, while stomach acid levels generally decline with age. If heartburn were caused by too much stomach acid, we’d have a bunch of teenagers popping Gaviscon instead of the elderly. But the reverse is true.
What happens in the stomach is when food arrives, if the body does not have the correct levels of HCL or enzymes it panics and throws the little acid it does have to the top of the stomach which causes heartburn. Taking an acid suppressant only makes this situation worse.
According to Dr Wright, when stomach acid is measured in people suffering from heartburn it is almost always low, not high. In his book Why Stomach Acid is Good For You, Wright explains:
When we carefully test people over age forty who’re having heartburn, indigestion and gas, over 90 percent of the time we find inadequate acid production by the stomach.
Our own clinical experience supports this. So far every client we see with heartburn or acid indigestion has responded well to enzyme or hydrochloric acid supplementation.
Hydrochloride is not our enemy. It plays an important part of our digestion as well as our immune system by destroying the harmful parasites and bacteria that are ingested with food. When people are on acid suppressants for a long time this can have serious immune, digestive implications as well as creating problems with small intestine absorption and lower bowel conditions like IBS.
Dr Emmanuel, Consultant Gastroenterologist at University College Hospital, London, said on a recent BBC Radio programme
‘Suppressing acid so completely it can interfere with our digestive processes, with the way we absorb certain minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin B12, which is important for blood cells and nerve function but also minerals like calcium, which of course is a big issue in the Western world in terms of osteoporosis and risks of bone fracture.’
So what can you do if you’re unsure whether you have low or high stomach acid. There are a few ways to explore this.
Try this home test with bicarbonate of soda or a home test with lemons.