You might not be digesting you food! I'll break down the affects, symptoms and solutions below of poor digestion with some easy to follow steps to help get digesting all that nutrient rich food.
How do you know if you digest everything you eat? And then how do you know if you are then absorbing and transporting all those nutrients to where they need to be?
People who are doing everything right with their diet and training but still make little or no progress with their physical results will often have low levels of stomach acids, also known as Hypochlorhydria and Achlorhydria.
Stomach acid (hydrochloric acid-HCl) breaks down food, so the body can extract the required nutrients for muscle maintenance and growth. Stomach acid is also responsible for killing all types of bacteria that enters the body via food. So if your stomach acid is low, you are more susceptible to food poisoning as your stomach acid is the first defence against bacteria.
If there is insufficient HCl, undigested foods can pass into the small intestine and struggle to be absorbed. Poor digestion of the macronutrients protein, fat, and carbohydrates means poor absorption of our basic energy sources. Protein being the hardest macronutrient to breakdown out of all of them.
Low stomach acid will prevent adequate absorption of essential vitamins and minerals which can lead to a deficiency. For example, B12 is commonly found in meat and fish (protein), and is the key nutrient in the production of healthy red blood cells that transport oxygen around the body. Drugs that look to inhibit HCl production may affect the breakdown of proteins in the stomach which can lead to an increase in bacteria in the stomach, and have an inflammatory effect throughout the body.
B12 and folic acid deficiencies have been linked with neurological disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s (i.e. low stomach acid, low folic acid and reduced B12 absorption.) In effect, you could go senile just from having low stomach acid. Here are a few of the symptoms to look out for if you have low stomach acid:
poor morning digestion
belching or gas within one hour of a meal
nausea after taking supplements
dry skin and brittle fingernails
undigested food in stool
There are many reasons for low stomach acid, such as B vitamin deficiency, excess carbohydrate consumption, hypothyroidism, food sensitivities, H. Pylori infection, consumption of carbonated drinks and even just aging.
But the most common cause of low stomach acid is actually stress. Stress experts estimate that we now have 100 times more stress than our grandfathers did.
Improving your HCl status can not only lead to dramatic improvements in fat loss, muscle maintenance, and muscle building but also improvements in a variety of health parameters, as you are now absorbing more from your food and transporting the nutrients to where they need to be.
Here are a few ways in which you can improve your HCl status to help you get more from your food:
remove all processed foods
sit down to eat
chew your food 20-30 times
stop eating before you get full
include some raw foods like vegetables and fruit into your diet
try and destress and get adequate sleep
have a tbsp apple cider vinegar in water before each meal
drink water with a squeeze of lemon juice throughout the day
include grapefruit and pineapple as they have digestive qualities
take a HCl supplement recommended by a health care practitioner
Follow these steps and hopefully you will see significant improvements!