Welcome to our very first Blog session on Digestive Health with REAL Foods !
In this book, the author provides a practical step-by-step guide to a REAL-food-based approach that can help individuals recover their digestive health naturally.
Chapter 1 gives an interesting and holistic explanation on how our digestive health is part and parcel of our very existence. Look at it this way, whatever we suffer from is because ‘we’ are not able to prevent it, fight it or escape it. By ‘we’, I mean our mind and our body with its immune system. And by our immune system, our body’s military defense, I naturally imply our gut health since majority of our immune system resides in our gut. No wonder, we have a gut-brain axis that is so central to our health….a healthy gut gives a healthy mind and vice-versa.
It’s hard to believe that the most common day-to day feelings of indigestion, food sensitivities and heartburn can all be blamed on our low stomach acid, a condition called ‘hypochlorhydria’. People above 60 have a more than 70% chance that all their gut health issues are simply because their stomach cells, with age (and perhaps other risk factors including smoking, alcohol), are just not able to produce enough acid. Stomach acid is really important to digest protein, whether in meat, dairy or nuts, and breakdown other major foods. My next 2 questions:
1. How do I know if I have hypochlorhydria? (Simple…!)
2. How do I treat hypochlorhydria or replace the stomach acid in other words? (..mm..let’s see!)
Answer to Q.1. The author mentioned a very simple and in-home non-evidence-based test to check our stomach acid levels. It’s definitely worth a try. All you have to do is mix one quarter (one milliliter) teaspoon of baking soda in a small glass of cold water and drink it first thing in the morning before breakfast. Watch the clock, and time how long it takes before you belch. If you belch within the first 2-3 minutes, you probably have enough stomach acid. If it takes between 3 and 5 minutes, your stomach acid levels are probably low. And if it takes more than 5 minutes, you are likely to have very low stomach acid levels. It’s a good idea to repeat this test on three different mornings to average the results and get a better sense of your stomach acid levels.
Of course, one could always pay US$350 for the evidence-based and gold standard Heidelberg Stomach Acid Test, which unfortunately is rarely covered by health insurance. Also, it’s not a routinely referred test unless the patient requests it.
Answer to Q.2. If you have low stomach acid, you can supplement with Betaine HCl to replace the acid your stomach doesn’t produce. It’s available at Amazon and drug stores like Walgreens. Or you could take digestive bitters to increase your stomach acid production. I’ll discuss about digestive bitters in our Chapter 6 discussion…. Hang on with me! Or simply read Chapter 6 🙂
Before I close today’s session, it’s really important to highlight in bold ‘GUT FLORA’. We house about a 100 trillion bacteria, a number 10 times more than our total human cells!!! Most of the bacteria live in our gut, unless of course, we have killed them with antibiotics, chemicals, food toxins etc. Not only do the gut flora help us in normal and regular bowel movements, they strengthen our immune system with their own factory of chemicals and hormones. They produce vitamins, short chain fatty acids, breakdown cancer-causing chemicals, and strengthen our gut lining. They are like a silver lining for our GI health. We can improve our gut flora in so many ways. For example, by taking probiotic supplements (live bacteria), fermented foods (probiotics and prebiotics), and by breast feeding infants.
Thank you for reading this blog. We hope it was helpful. Please do not hesitate to post your comments. Every comment and every question is truly valuable. We are here to help. Have a wonderful week!
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