Have you lost your spark?…. You know the person, they radiate energy, make clear decisions, seem to have some organizational gene that you don’t and eat well- but can eat almost ANYTHING without the belly rebelling (aka, the iron stomach). Do you want to know their secret? Simply put, their constitution lends itself to maintaining strong digestive fire which is the very foundation of a healthy gut and a sharp mental state. But, if you are like most people, your constitution tends to flicker from time to time and your mental and physical states lack, well… fire.
Digestive fire is the stomach’s ability (along with some accessory organs) to properly break down your food to optimally extract and absorb nutrients and Chi. (Chi is your life force energy and circulates through your body alongside your blood.) In order to do this the stomach must maintain a high level of acidity to initiate gastric enzyme production and to keep the motor running. In fact, when working properly it will excrete up to two and a half quarts of these gastric juices a day. But, due to our many modern marvels of daily life, this system is often weak leaving us feeling depleted of our fire and we end up with low stomach acid. Symptoms are expressed in some obvious ways through our digestive health but there are also less obvious conditions that are often overlooked. And, in most cases all you need to start feeling better is a little spark to get the fire going again.
Here are 8 signs that you have low stomach acid:
- You always feel “full”~ No matter how much or little you eat your stomach tends to have this full feeling and your appetite is dull. When your fire is low it allows for conditions of dampness and stagnation to move in. You may even feel like there is a mucus like quality in your belly.
- You can’t breath~ The stomach sits right below the bottom of the left ribs. When it is bloated and inflamed it will create a pressure on the diaphragm. This pressure will give you the sensation that you can’t get big full breaths and that your breathing is forced.
- Stuff stinks~ Yes, I am sure there is an elegant “beat around the bush” kind of way to say this but… Your poop smells, your gas is deadly and your breath isn’t minty fresh. True these things tend to not be the most desirable odors from time to time. But, when your fire is dim and your gut is sluggish your food will begin to ferment rather than turn and burn. And, fermenting food produces gas and bowel movements that not a book of burning matches can cover up. Gross but true.
- You have overall poor digestion~ Constipation, IBS, gas, indigestion… All of these symptoms make their appearance in every part of the digestive tract. But without strengthening the foundation there isn’t a therapy out there that will completely relieve your symptoms. If your car was sluggish you wouldn’t go out and replace your tires in hopes of better performance, you would rebuild the engine so that it burned its fuel optimally.
- Your brain is foggy and sluggish~ If your food isn’t being broken down for optimal nutrient absorption then everything thing else in your body will begin to suffer. One of the most frustrating symptoms is the foggy brain and total lack of creative juices. Remember you have 2 brains, one being your gut, and they rely on an almost perfect communication channel of nutrients, hormones and enzyme production back and forth.
- You are cold and weak~ Quite simply, without your fuel burning in your body properly everything gets cold and dull. You may notice your hair doesn’t shine, your eyes don’t blaze and your body is tired more easily by simple daily tasks. You need some fire in your life.
- You get sick easily~ The immune system is quite complex and there are many reasons behind why it may be functioning poorly. However, adequate acid level (fire) in the stomach is one of the body’s first lines of defense against incoming bacteria. This is why when I travel I ALWAYS load up on Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) before each meal- I have never been sick abroad.
- You are anti-social~ Your stomach organ expresses your social self, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. How we present ourselves at work and among friends comes from our solar plexus area which houses our stomach. This area, also the 3rd, chakra is responsible for shining out. So if it is compromised our shine tends to dull and we withdraw socially.
All of these low stomach acid signs and symptoms can be greatly alleviated by addressing your digestive fire through some simple at home and additional supportive therapies. When addressing these issues it is best to work with someone experienced in rekindling your digestive fire and overall digestive health. Support with the following will usually produce almost immediate results.
- Dietary modifications that build digestive fire, eating slowly and chewing thoroughly
- Lifestyle modifications that include breath awareness and stress reduction
- Digestive enzymes with HCL (hydrochloric acid) like this
- Abdominal massage techniques such as Maya Abdominal Massage , Chi Nei Tsang and Visceral Manipulation