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Hypochlorhydria (Part 1) – What is it?

Do you feel bloated and/or right after meals? Do you have indigestion, along other unpleasant symptoms like constipation? And perhaps you even suffer from chronic candida? While these symptoms could be caused by a wide range of issues, a possible cause is hypochlorhydria.

Hypochlorhydria is also commonly known as low stomach acid. It is not traditionally viewed as a disease and does not tend to feature in orthodox pathophysiology textbooks, unless listed in the index as a symptom of another condition. However, it can cause serious havoc on the digestive system! Be careful not to confuse hypochlorhydria with achlorhydria, non-existent stomach acid, a separate condition.

The ability to produce gastric acid declines with age and more than 50% of the population over 60 years old have less than optimal secretion levels . Stomach acid has numerous functions in the digestive system as a low or high pH levels trigger different processes,

making adequate acid secretion of key importance for optimal nutrition. For example, hypochlorhydria is associated with reduced micronutrient absorption, incomplete protein digestion and subsequent food allergies. Lack of stomach acid can also impact upon the microbiome by increasing prevalence rates of small intestine bacteria overgrowth, as well as pathogenic microbes. Outside the gut, low gastric acidity has been associated with numerous diseases (table below).

In the next blog post we will look at how hypochlorydria affects protein absorption, and how it affects intestinal and pancreatic functions. The final post on the series will provide some advice on how to manage the condition. Stay tuned and healthy!

References

Freedberg, D.E., Lebwohl, B. and Abrams, J. (2014). ‘The impact of proton pump inhibitors on the gastrointestinal microbiome’, Clinics in laboratory medicine, 34(4), doi:10.1016/j.cll.2014.08.008

Vellas, B., Balas, D. and Albarede, J.L. (1991), in Liska, D., Quinn, S. eds., Lukaczer, D., Jones, D.S., Lerman, R.H. (2004) ‘Digestion, absorption and gut ecology’, in Clinical nutrition: a functional approach. 2nd edn. Gig Harbor: Institute for Functional Medicine. pp.191-214.

Pizzorno, J.E., Katzinger, N.D. (2012) Clinical pathophysiology a functional perspective: a systems approach to understanding reversing disease processes. Coquitlam: Mind Publishing.

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