Tummy Troubles: HYPOCHLORHYDRIA
I’m back home again, a quick trip to Nashville and back and suddenly I am looking at Friday again, wondering where my week went. Over the past week or so, I’ve been plagued with a return of my stomach aches.
I’ve had stomach issues my whole life.
As far back as I can remember, if there was the slightest bit of stress in my life, somehow my body would send that message directly to my stomach.
I’ve been diagnosed with IBS.
Had tests run.
More tests run.
Three months ago, my doctor did an MRI and told me that I had an ‘enlarged pancreatic duct.’
I did some more tests and they all came back normal.
And the stomach pains have continued.
It was in fact, this latest round of digestive trouble that pushed me back into my full Paleo diet, and up until last week, I had been stomach ache free for over a month.
And then they hit again.
Tuesday evening, I was backtracking my food over the past week. I am so careful now. What could I have done wrong?
I came across, by chance, a post on, of all things, stomach acid, on the Balanced Bites blog.
Here I sit two days later and I think that one little blog post may have changed my life.
For those of you who are like me, uneducated on stomach acid, while most of us know about too MUCH acid (ie your bottle of tums…) but I’ve never heard of too LITTLE acid.
And I CERTAINLY didn’t know the kind of havoc it can wreak on your system.
The official name is HYPOCHLORHYDRIA.
Basically, if you don’t produce enough stomach acid, your food not only doesn’t digest properly and you end up like me, miserable and feeling like you’ve got a softball sitting in your abdomen, but you also end up malnourished because you are not receiving the proper nutrients from your food.
In other words, my Paleo diet is great, in fact it has probably helped more than I know, because processed food make this condition worse. But Paleo or not, if you don’t have enough stomach acid, the great food you are eating isn’t going to do what we hope it’s going to do-fuel your body.
Some of the more common symptoms of low stomach acid:
- Bacterial/fungal overgrowth
- Diarrhea and constipation
- Food sensitivities
- A feeling of fullness
- Malabsorption problems
- Nutritional deficiency
- Stomach pain and distress
- Unexplained hunger
- Weakened hair, nails, and skin
- yeast infections, and a host of other ailments
What off that list caught my attention?
No, not the belching.
It was the weakened nails. I’ve had thin, splitting nails for many years and chalked it up to hormonal issues or undiagnosed thyroid problems. Suddenly it all seemed to make sense. I read and read and read some more and every time I would find another website, all I could think of was, holy cow, THIS IS MY PROBLEM.
Yesterday, before I headed to Nashville, I ran to the health food store and purchased what seems to be the best known cure: BETAINE which is actually a way of ADDING (think reverse tums) Pepsin back into your stomach.
(Besides the BETAINE, it’s also recommended that you take ginger, digestive enzymes, and/or probiotics to help keep your stomach happy.)
Here’s the most interesting point: the instructions are to start with 1 capsule and gradually increase them with each meal until you feel a burning, at which point you back down slightly. That’s the ‘level’ you individually need to introduce the right stomach acid for your stomach.
So far I am at 3 pills and I don’t feel any burning at all!
I’m starting to think my stomach has been flat empty all of this time?
The good news is, so far, no stomach pain at all in the last 48 hours.
I’m frustrated that I could go my whole life, in and out of the medical system, and no one would ask me about this.
But I suppose that’s an entirely different post.