Part 2 of 5 – The Stomach
Oh the stomach – the poor misunderstood stomach!
The stomach is a powerhouse. Its main job is to break down the protein found in our food and to help with absorption of minerals by binding them to digested protein. It uses a very acidic environment to get this difficult job done – the stomach can get to a pH of 2 or lower if it’s working properly!
Many of us think about our stomach only when it causes a problem, like nausea, vomiting or heartburn. And sadly, we often treat these symptoms by suppressing the natural function of the stomach with medication.
An under active stomach or low stomach acid production is very common. The stomach is greatly affected by stress. Nausea, queasiness or butterflies are common symptoms when we’re feeling stress.
The stomach works best in a calm environment that promotes adequate production of stomach acid. Stressful activities, such as eating on the go, watching a high-stress TV show or eating quickly can cause low stomach acid production.
Common symptoms of low stomach acid are:
- A heavy feeling in the upper abdomen after eating
- Heartburn and/or food traveling up the esophagus
- Acidic feeling stools
- Multiple mineral deficiencies – specifically calcium, iron, and zinc
- Gas and bloating which aren’t helped with a good quality digestive enzyme
You may develop heartburn and think it has come on suddenly, but it’s a condition that develops over a long period of unhealthy habits (such as eating under stress). People with low stomach acid may find they have weak nails or hair, have trouble fighting off infections, develop seasonal allergies and immune reactions to foods or develop multiple mineral deficiencies.
You can strengthen your stomach, improve your digestion and minimize or eliminate digestive issues by practicing some simple and healthy habits, like:
- Eat in a calm and relaxed environment. Take a few deep breaths before eating.
- Chew well – as we have said before, your stomach doesn’t have teeth.
- Limit your liquid intake while eating to no more than 4 oz, and wait at least an hour after a meal before drinking.
- Eliminate chewing gum – When we chew anything, including gum, our stomach starts to produce acid. This acid is wasted if you don’t swallow any food. Give your stomach a break and stop chewing gum!
Keep that powerhouse – your stomach – functioning and healthy with a few small changes to your day-to-day habits.
by Lisa Kilgour, RHN, Nutritionist InspireHealth Southern Interior – Kelowna