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 3 of 4 – Topping Up Your Acid #notjustbipolar

Stomach Acid 3 of 4 – Topping Up Your Acid – Not just Bipolar Disorder

If you are suffering from any kind of long-term disorder, whether; arteriosclerosis, arthritis, bipolar, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression (or any of hundreds of others) then having your digestive system work something like it should work is going to aid recovery.

For our digestive systems to work well we need to have enough stomach acid, right when we need it and not have that stomach acid or stomach contents anywhere other than in the stomach until our food is sufficiently digested to move on. Both stress and eating too frequently can cause the stomach valves to open at the wrong times. The top valve allowing acid up that burns the oesophagus leading many people to believe indigestion and heartburn to be due to stomach acid being too strong. It is usual weaker acid, just acid in the wrong place.

I want to share two remedies for low stomach acid. The first option is quick, simple and only costs about 50p/day (about $0.35/day). The second costs nothing. In the longer term I am hoping everyone who has this problem will follow me in my move to this zero cost option, which I will describe in my next blog. First though, if you are in pain or struggling with your moods you are likely to want a quick fix along with the good news that this does not involve any additional artificial drugs.

My personal experience:

I remember well my first acute problem with stomach acid. It was summer 1984 and I was working and staying in a hotel 100+ miles from home. One evening I chose the ‘mixed grill’ from the menu and was overwhelmed by the amount presented. It was huge! However, I grew up in a household where everyone was expected to clear their plate. I ate sausages, bacon, liver, kidney, black sausage a piece of steak and a whole lot more. The meal went on until midnight. I had never eaten so much! I went to bed and as always in those days slept right through the night and got up about 6:30am. Then suddenly I had the most extreme and frightening pain in the chest. This gradually eased over about an hour. Later I mentioned the pain to a colleague, who guessed the pain will have been linked to all the protein I had the night before and I would not have had enough acid to digest it all.

After this I avoided huge meals and my digestive system was fine until 1992 when a new neighbour moved in, removed our garden fence and claimed he owned part of our garden. He insisted we only communicate through solicitors which resulted in 3½ years of stress before a court case that allowed the boundary to go back to where it had always been. During the court case we had to leave the home we owned and move into rented accommodation 20 miles away as we feared this ‘mad’ neighbour so much. We were never able to return. I had not experienced stress like this before and ended up hardly sleeping at all.

Meanwhile I was experiencing indigestion every evening and this was horrible. I went to my doctor for various tests. Eventually, in 1996, I was incorrectly diagnosed as having too much stomach acid and was prescribed an acid lowering Protein Pump Inhibitor (PPI) drug.

Did I need a PPI drug? Most certainly not! It was the stress of the court case and house move that had lowered my stomach acid and was leading to the valve at the top of my stomach not closing. It was 20 years after this all started that I eventually paid for time with a nutritionist and came to better understand low stomach acid.

The nutritionist recommended Nutrigest® to be taken prior to any meal containing more than a few grams of protein. Nutrigest® is one of many tablets now available that contain natural digestive enzymes along with a source of stomach acid to aid digestion by temporarily boosting acidity, which helps with the tight closure of the top valve.  If your meals are not massive then Nutrigest® tends to be very effective. For me it eliminated all IBS symptoms and all indigestion.

Nutrigest®: In the UK, expect to pay £15 for 90 tablets. At 3 per day (one per meal) that is 30 days supply costing 50p/day. Other similar tablets are available with the same acid and enzyme combination.

As I say, this is a quick fix and certainly one I was grateful for after years of suffering.  – On the next page I will be sharing an even more effective zero cost option.

Warning: When stomach acid is too weak the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers can thrive, but stomach ulcers cannot be treated using additional acid. If you get more pain than usual after taking a Nutrigest® or similar tablet then stop taking these tablets as it could be due to a stomach ulcer or a severely damaged oesophagus, both of which need specialist help to ensure these conditions do not get worse. If you were ever told you had a stomach ulcer without appropriate testing then now could be a good time to ask to have your stomach checked by a specialist.

Disclaimer: Most people easily tolerate Nutrigest® because it is a natural product, however you still need to research and read the information that comes with the tablets. If in doubt consult a local nutritionist or a doctor with good knowledge of stomach acid. I am only putting stomach acid/enzyme tablets forward as one option, while the option I prefer and highly recommend is one I will write about next.

Roger Smith – – article updated 3rd July 2014

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