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While you may eat a mineral-rich diet and plenty of protein, it turns out that you can still miss out on these vital nutrients.
The old saying goes, “You are what you eat.” In reality, you are what you absorb.
Diet is important. But digestive health trumps what you eat.
In other words, in order to get the most out of food, it is essential that you have the ability to extract nutrients and use them.
As it turns out, low stomach acid is responsible for both protein deficiency and mineral deficiency.
What does this mean for you?
When it comes to early signs of protein deficiency, watch out for these 2 red flags:
- Sugar cravings, unstable blood sugar, and constant snacking.
- Chronically low levels of energy or extreme tiredness.
Mineral deficiency can be more difficult to spot. However, low stomach acid can lead to mineral deficiencies—in particular calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and zinc. (1)
Signs can include muscle cramps, white flecks on fingernails, wounds that are slow to heal, low levels of energy, iron-deficiency anemia, and Candida overgrowth. Some long-term mineral deficiencies can even lead to osteoporosis—or the break down of bone. (2)
The Cause and Effect of Low Stomach Acid
Low energy levels could be a sign of a protein or mineral deficiency. Low stomach acid could be to blame, caused by pharmaceutical medications, stress, or age.
The most common cause of low stomach acid—or gastric juices that are too alkaline—is pharmaceutical medication.
Medication that treats heartburn reduces stomach acid. Examples include H2 antagonists (Zantac) or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs, like Prilosec). Both suppress the secretion of stomach acid.
Stomach acid, HCl (hydrochloric acid), is naturally acidic for a reason. The acidic nature of stomach acid protects the body against outside bacteria, yeast, parasites, and other infectious microorganisms.
Stomach acid activates enzymes that break down protein into smaller fragments that the body can use. When stomach acid is weak, the body grows deficient in protein.
Stress—physical, emotional, or mental—can reduce stomach acid and shut down digestion in the stomach. Furthermore, as the body ages, the stomach naturally becomes less efficient. (3)
Low Stomach Acid and Candida Overgrowth
Stomach acid creates a harsh environment, making it hard for organisms to survive.
Antacid medication changes this. It reduces the acidity of the stomach.
Research shows that Candida overgrowth inside the esophagus is associated with PPI medication. (4) Another study published in May 2013 concludes that antacid medication is an important risk factor for Candida overgrowth. (5)
When it comes to Candida overgrowth in the upper gastrointestinal tract, restoring the acidic nature of the stomach is sometimes not enough. This is because Candida is aggressive.
As it turns out, Candida thrives in a high-pH environment. In other words, antacid medication creates just the right environment for Candida to grow. To make matters worse, researchers have also found that Candida can control the pH of its environment. (6)
When necessary, Candida produces and releases ammonia. Ammonia is alkaline in nature. The ability of Candida to produce ammonia ensures its survival.
This is why it is essential to:
1. Correct the pH of the stomach with Assist Dairy & Protein.
2. Follow the Body Ecology healing protocol to control Candida overgrowth.
DANGER! Low Stomach Acid Leads to Mineral Deficiency and Weak Bones
Unfortunately, low stomach acid—either from infection, stress, or prescription antacids—can have serious, long-term consequences.
An acidic environment in the stomach is necessary for the absorption of mineral micronutrients like:
A deficiency in each mineral is associated with its own set of problems. (7)
For example, your stomach acid needs to be acidic enough in order to absorb iron. Over time, the inability to absorb iron can lead to iron-deficiency anemia or anemia due to B12 deficiency. (8) Anemia can mean weakness, fatigue, and poor concentration.
Another example is calcium. Large studies have been done on the relationship between low stomach acid, poor calcium absorption, and osteoporosis—or, the break down of bone density. The culprit here is “drug-induced hypochlorhydria,” or weak stomach acid from antacid medication. (9) The risk is especial high in postmenopausal women. (10)
Restoring Bone Density
How can you restore the naturally acidic environment of your stomach?
It is important to get off antacids (if you are on them), reduce stress, and conquer infection.
However, research also shows that probiotics may greatly reduce the negative effects that antacid medications have on bone health. While both studies were done on rats, researchers did find that absorption and retention of important minerals were enhanced by probiotics.
One study, published in May 2013 in Biological Trace Element Research, found that probiotics increased absorption of calcium, magnesium, and zinc. (11) The other study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2011, found that probiotics improved the absorption of calcium even when taking antacid medication. (12)
What To Remember Most About This Article:
Your diet does matter, but your gut health can also determine which nutrients you absorb from the foods you eat. If you have low stomach acid, it could be directly linked to a protein or mineral deficiency.
- Signs of a protein deficiency may include sugar cravings, constant snacking, and low energy levels.
- Signs of a mineral deficiency may include slow-healing wounds, low energy levels, muscle cramps, and Candida overgrowth.
Low stomach acid is most commonly caused by pharmaceutical medications used to treat heartburn by reducing stomach acid. Stress and age can also contribute to low levels of stomach acid. Unfortunately, Candida thrives in this type of environment and can affect the health of the entire body.
You can improve your digestive health to correct a protein or mineral deficiency early on by:
- Balancing the pH of the stomach with Assist Dairy & Protein.
- Following the healing principles of the Body Ecology Diet to curb Candida overgrowth.
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- Serfaty-Lacrosniere, C., Wood, R. J., Voytko, D., Saltzman, J. R., Pedrosa, M., Sepe, T. E., & Russell, R. R. (1995). Hypochlorhydria from short-term omeprazole treatment does not inhibit intestinal absorption of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium or zinc from food in humans. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 14(4), 364-368.
- Insogna, K. L. (2009). The effect of proton pump-inhibiting drugs on mineral metabolism. The American journal of gastroenterology, 104, S2-S4.
- Smith, D. L. (2009). Anemia in the elderly. Iron Disorders Institute Guide to Anemia, 96.
- Ramaswamy, K., Correa, M., & Koshy, A. (2007). Non-healing gastric ulcer associated with Candida infection. Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology, 25(1), 57.
- Kim, K. Y., Jang, J. Y., Kim, J. W., Shim, J. J., Lee, C. K., Dong, S. H., ... & Chang, Y. W. (2013). Acid Suppression Therapy as a Risk Factor for Candida Esophagitis. Digestive diseases and sciences, 1-5.
- Vylkova S, et al. (2011) The fungal pathogen Candida albicans autoinduces hyphal morphogenesis by raising extracellular pH. mBio 2(3):e00055-11. doi:10.1128/mBio.00055-11.
- Ito, T., & Jensen, R. T. (2010). Association of long-term proton pump inhibitor therapy with bone fractures and effects on absorption of calcium, vitamin B12, iron, and magnesium. Current gastroenterology reports, 12(6), 448-457.
- Sharma, V. R., Brannon, M. A., & Carloss, E. A. (2004). Effect of omeprazole on oral iron replacement in patients with iron deficiency anemia. Southern medical journal, 97(9), 887-889.
- Sipponen, P., & Härkönen, M. (2010). Hypochlorhydric stomach: a risk condition for calcium malabsorption and osteoporosis?. Scandinavian journal of gastroenterology, 45(2), 133-138.
- Gray, S. L., LaCroix, A. Z., Larson, J., Robbins, J., Cauley, J. A., Manson, J. E., & Chen, Z. (2010). Proton pump inhibitor use, hip fracture, and change in bone mineral density in postmenopausal women: results from the Women's Health Initiative. Archives of internal medicine, 170(9), 765.
- Takasugi, S., Ashida, K., Maruyama, S., Matsukiyo, Y., Kaneko, T., & Yamaji, T. (2013). A Combination of a Dairy Product Fermented by Lactobacilli and Galactooligosaccharides Shows Additive Effects on Mineral Balances in Growing Rats with Hypochlorhydria Induced by a Proton Pump Inhibitor. Biological trace element research, 1-10.
- Takasugi, S., Ashida, K., Maruyama, S., Komaba, Y., Kaneko, T., & Yamaji, T. (2011). A dairy product fermented by lactobacilli cancels the adverse effects of hypochlorhydria induced by a proton pump inhibitor on bone metabolism in growing rats. British Journal of Nutrition, 106(10), 1487-1494.
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