When we eat, stomach acid, also known as gastric acid is made on demand by the parietal cells which line our stomach. Stomach acid, which is composed of hydrochloric acid (HCL), potassium chloride, and sodium chloride, is used for breaking down food, thus aiding digestion.
Factors that Affect the Production of Stomach Acid
Research suggests that as we approach 50, lesser HCL is produced by the body, thereby causing acid reflux and heartburn. In such cases, it would be wise to consider taking HCL supplements to aid digestion.
When we are stressed, our body goes into ‘fight-or-flight’ mode, instead of a ‘rest-digest-repair-reproduce’ mode. Chronic stress affects our digestive system by hampering its ability to produce enough stomach HCL and digestive juices.
Consuming foods that are processed, rich in refined sugar and grains can cause chronic inflammation and result in elevated stress hormones in the body. A diet with less carbohydrates, rich in antioxidants, and low sugar will help improve stomach acid levels.
Eating too Quickly
Studies suggest that when we eat in a hurry, often without chewing our food adequately, not only do we feel less full, but our body also generates more stress hormones, which obstruct the production of stomach acid, leading to indigestion.
Overuse of Antibiotics
Researchers have found that antibiotic treatments could disturb the microbe ecosystem in our gut, causing inflammation and indigestion, amongst other serious problems. In addition to antibiotics, over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen etc., which we take quite readily and without much caution, are also responsible for wearing down the stomach lining and reducing the formation of HCL.
Certain foods don’t agree with our digestive tract well and cause stress in the body. Common offenders include gluten, dairy, corn, soy, peanuts, etc. It would be best to avoid such foods as they lead to further depletion of stomach acid.
Insufficient stomach acid can lead to acid reflux/heartburn. To know more, check out our detailed article on what causes acid reflux.