Heartburn is not always due to TOO MUCH stomach acid, but can also be caused by TOO LITTLE stomach acid. So before you grab those antacids, read this:
You likely have heard that the “gut” is the seat of your body’s immunity and that you have good bacteria that keep the bad bacteria at bay. Well, stomach acid directly impacts the environment in your small intestine since it is immediately downstream from the stomach, and even though the “gut” can be a collective term for the digestive organs in your belly-region, immunity and a great deal of neurotransmitter creation actually happens in the small intestine, not the stomach. With the added bonus that the small intestine lining is a large “duct” for your lymph system (if you would like to consider it momentarily like the HVAC for your body), you can understand how incredibly important it is to keep your small intestine happy.
And this means keeping all of the players upstream from the small intestine happy, too.
Due to this relationship, your stomach’s ability to break down the food particles, proteins, and microbes presented to it is crucial!! Too little acid means incomplete digestion or breaking-down of these particles, allowing undigested food and un-neutralized “bugs” into your small intestine. In addition to poor absorption of the nutrients, fats, and energy from your foods, now you have nasty bugs setting up villages and cities in your small intestine! — And it doesn’t take long for your body to start playing hot potato with your energy as it tries to ward off the invading army in your gut while keeping your body functions going, all while paying for digestion without receiving any reward.
To make matters worse, the toxins in your small intestine get fed back into the liver through the enteric cycle (also known as upper moving vata in Ayurveda) which congests the liver, thickens the bile in the gallbladder (think “bile sludge”), and since bile hugs the food particles as they go to the stomach and buffers the acid, and without it the stomach acid has no buffer, it is like leaving a pan of water on the stove boiling, waiting on the noodles, and when you finally get everything together, you are adding noodles to an empty pot. Your stomach is waiting and waiting for the bile and food it was promised, but by the time your gallbladder has put enough sludge pushed out, your stomach has been waiting so long, or the buffer is inadequate, that you experience heartburn.
So, let’s recap: too little acid hinders nutritional absorption, allows bad bugs to proliferate in your small intestine, and toxins to be reabsorbed by your liver, causing congestion in your liver and gallbladder, affecting bile fluidity and bile production, and then heartburn. And since your body eventually senses the acidity issue in your stomach, your hippocampus says no more acid production, which includes neurotransmitters, and with the impacted “ick” that leaked into your lymph system from your small intestine, you may be enjoying low energy, brain fog, and a slew of other issues, on top of the heartburn!
Now, if you treat the heartburn with antacids, you will be further congesting your gallbladder and liver, and essentially putting up “free land” signs in your small intestine for any gang of bugs that desire free rent. But then you’ll also need to satisfy the decreased energy and brain fog, and many other ailments which may include joint pain. Eventually you may even notice your tolerance for germs has decreased. And as the cycle continues, you’ll need heavier doses of antacids and stimulants, as well as symptomatic-treatments for your other growing ailments, and eventually your body’s weakest link is discovered … and the prognosis is not good.
All because of LOW STOMACH ACID!
So, before you reach out to every acidic drink, thinking acid in equates to stomach acid, you should consult with your doctor before following a gentle gut-rejuvenation practice. Rejuvenating your gut naturally, and gently, ensures that you remove the bad and spectator bugs without aggravating the important lining of your stomach, and allows good bugs to colonize so that you can enjoy optimal digestion with a diverse microbiome. …And throw away the antacids!!