Stomach Acid 1 of 4 – Not just Bipolar Disorder #notjustbipolar

Not just Bipolar Disorder #notjustbipolar

Stomach Acid 1 of 4

When we get stressed, part of the fight or flight reaction is for our stomachs to make less acid. This is because it takes a lot of energy to make stomach acid and when we are stressed that energy is being used elsewhere.

Without enough stomach acid we do not digest protein at all well. If we continue to be stressed then much of the protein we eat will leave the stomach only partially digested. This is harmful to our health for these reasons:

  1. Lack of building blocks for good health:

For optimal health, then every day, we need enough of 8 essential amino acids that we can only obtain by digesting proteins. A lack of stomach acid is likely to leave us short of these vital building blocks for health and happiness. For example: Serotonin (often described as a good mood hormone) can only be made from the amino acid tryptophan. Failing to get enough tryptophan from our diet will cause us to feel less well as our serotonin levels drop. The medical intervention for low serotonin is often an SSRI drug (such as Prozac or Citalopram) however, without tryptophan you cannot make any fresh serotonin, which makes such interventions ineffective compared with improving digestion.

  1. Inflammation:

Below our stomach our gut has a sophisticated immune system. Its main function is to protect us against tiny organisms (especially but not only bacteria). However, our gut needs friendly bacteria such as those that allow us to digest enough vitamin B12. There has to be a chemical way for us to tell friend from foe in our guts. Every organism has unique sets (codes) of amino acids. Your immune system knows the codes for common invaders and will react to these often causing discomfort and inflammation. The trouble is that many partially digested proteins (perhaps most famously from wheat gluten) are mistaken by the immune system as invaders and so cause inflammation.

How does inflammation impact on common disorders? Reactions to improperly digested foods do not just affect the gut. This inflammation can affect our breathing, our balance, cause us to itch, cause blotches and almost always causes our energy levels and hence our moods to be more variable. Joint pain is also related to inflammation, so whether or not diagnosed with arthritis, the inflammation due to poorly digested protein tends to make us feel more pain/less well.

It seems that most people with the bipolar diagnosis have food allergies (and many may well have low serotonin due to poor digestion). Many allergies are mild and are simply described as intolerances. These may be put down to everything other than the true cause as most often the proteins causing the allergy are in that person’s favourite foods. For example: Protein in cheese is for many a source of variable moods, yet few cheese eaters will willingly give up eating cheese.

From personal experience I can say there are several effective routes for dealing with low stomach acid and through using these I can say the outlook is good. As we start to overcome low stomach acid and its effects then we can start to have more of the moods we want and need to be having. I will share what has been working for me and what I know works for thousands of others who have been diagnosed with ‘modern’ disorders and are overcoming these through improving their digestion.

For understanding allergies and intolerances I found ‘Boost your Immune System’ by Patrick Holford and Jennifer Meek to be particularly helpful

Roger Smith – – article updated 29th June 2014

Stomach Acid 4 of 4 – A Longer Term Route to Better Health #notjustbipolar

On 7th July I blogged about all long-term disorders, whether it be bipolar, diabetes, schizophrenia, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, M.E., arteriosclerosis (or any of hundreds of others) seeming to be caused largely by what we eat or fail to eat. More accurately, these disorders are linked to what our bodies ingest and digest, meaning that sometimes we may consume all the nutrients we need but if some are passing straight through us we will become unwell.

We need to have enough stomach acid, right when we need it in order that we get most benefit from our food and avoid feeling groggy/miserable due to poorly digested foods in our lower gut.

When unwell or very stressed it can be difficult to make enough stomach acid to digest all we eat and that is why I wrote about Nutrigest® as a ‘quick fix’. Now, I want to offer a long-term solution that requires something more like willpower rather than tablets. Although the best long-term plan must be: to continue to better understand about all aspects of understanding nutrition.

This solution to having low stomach acid comes in two parts:

  1. Go longer between meals and cut out just about all snacks.

This allows your stomach to have a rest and to be prepared to rapidly make lots of acid at exactly the time you need it. The stomach can then work on your food batch-by-batch, being guided by its acidity, keeping both valves tightly closed while doing its hardest work with its strongest acid.

This could be linked to ‘intermittent fasting’ but mainly I have found that just going a little longer between meals and minimising snacking can lead to big improvements.

  1. Avoid unnecessarily large meals.

This part I have found to be more difficult. I used to almost always have sensible sized meals, meaning meals that my stomach could easily cope with. However, when I reacted badly to Prozac I was told I would need to take Olanzapine for life to avoid being overactive.

Olanzapine is a drug also given to people with anorexic to help with weight gain. It is said to switch off the chemical message to the brain that is released as the stomach fills. On Olanzapine I was always hungry; overeating, but still hungry. I guess this stretched my stomach.

Coming off the Olanzapine gradually over several years allowed me to lose all the excess weight, but my appetite remained, with me craving food more or less whenever I was not asleep. I looked forward to every meal, talked about food excessively (I still do that) and would snack and snack at every opportunity.

One thing that can help with cutting down on the total size of a meal is to fill your plate with the amount you feel is right to keep you going to your next meal and before starting have a firm plan for what you will do as soon as you finish eating what is in front of you. Add to this the option to stop and put any remaining food in the fridge if you do notice you are feeling full enough.

All this may sound like just another weight-loss diet however the purpose is different from most diets and works for most thin people too when it comes to sorting out stomach acid. Having the right amount of stomach acid gives us the best possible chance of getting the most from our food and so the raw materials with which to combat disorders.

How common is low stomach acid among people diagnosed with bipolar and these other common disorders? It seems to be very common and many finding Nutrigest® to be very beneficial for mood. It seems likely we have all suffered from low stomach acid at some time as it is related to stress and we have all been stressed at some time.

I have described the above as a zero cost option, really though, it saves money. By going longer between meals and not snacking I have saved £75/month on my food bill.

In a future blog I will explain why it took me so long to make this change and how I have been able to go longer between meals and yet; feel less hungry, have more energy and feel much fitter.

Warning: If you are of very low weight or very unwell then be cautious about going longer between meals and discuss your desire to tackle low stomach acid with a nutritionist or your doctor before changing what and when you eat.

Warning: The label says not to take Nutrigest® if you have a stomach ulcer. Stomach ulcers are not as common as many people think, so if you were ever told you had one without appropriate testing then now could be a good time to ask to have your stomach checked by a specialist.

Please contact me if you would like to know more about this method of overcoming many common disorders. I can tell you more about the changes I have made for myself or share links to the research that shows less often and eating less helps most people.

Finally please be kind to friends and family who struggle with eating less. Very often drugs/medication drive us directly or indirectly to eat more, while modern living leads to stressed people who naturally want to eat to frequently hoping to relieve some of their stress.

Roger Smith – – article updated 9th July 2014

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