Listen to Your Body - Indigestion

Indigestion may be affected by a number of factors, which I would take into account in providing nutritional recommendations for a client. Food matters takes up one of those factors here, as we continue with their list of 9 symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.


You’re low on stomach acid…


One likely signal: Burping and indigestion


Background: If you’re low on stomach acid, your body won’t digest foods efficiently, especially dense foods like fats and proteins. When food sits in the stomach, so does the air you naturally swallow when you eat. The air has only two options — get pushed down the digestive tract with food or catch the next flight up the esophagus and out the mouth. The longer food loiters in the stomach, the more likely you’ll burp.



Other signals: Gastric reflux, weak immune system, cracked fingernails, chronic infections, gas


How to respond: Boost the first phase of digestion by becoming a more “sensory-based eater,” says Swift. “That means enjoy the sight and smell of the meal before you dig in so that your gut has time to release digestive factors, such as hydrochloric acid, in anticipation of a meal.” Then, eat more mindfully. Chew your food so that it’s easier for the gut to digest, especially proteins and fats.


If you still feel like your food sits in your stomach like a rock, Haas recommends trying digestive enzymes, which can help you better digest your food. For example, he says, you might try a product called betaine hydrochloride with pepsin (a time-released protein digestant), found at health-food stores.

Hydrochloric acid is the main ingredient in stomach acid. By taking it as a supplement, you’re basically giving your stomach a head start, especially with proteins and fats, which are the hardest food stuffs to digest, meaning they require more stomach acids than carbs. After you begin eating a meal with protein and fat, for instance, take one capsule. See how you feel after a couple of meals. If you feel OK, you can try two capsules and gradually increase to three or four. If you have any sensation of burning or acid indigestion, cut back to a level where you didn’t experience any negative side effects.



Stomach acid does actually decline with age, so it could be that many of the indigestion problems that are generally put down to excess acid, may be caused by too little stomach acid. The suitability of supporting digestion with digestive enzymes or Hydrochloric acid as Betain Hydrochloride would be discussed within a consultation if someone was suffering symptoms of indigestion. As mentioned above, this should be introduced very carefully and gradually in order to avoid any burning or too great an increase in acid. A nutritional supplement programme would also ensure that the nutrients essential for the effective production of HCl are included in the diet, so that digestion is supported long-term.