Do you have any of the following symptoms?
- Gas, bloating or burping after meals
- Feel sleepy after eating
- Heavy and tired after eating
- Undigested food in stool
- Eat when rushed or in a hurry
These symptoms may indicate an Underactive Stomach.
So what is an underactive stomach?
Well first of all it’s not as scary as it sounds. An underactive stomach is actually incredibly common! When the stomach is underactive it means that it is not producing enough enzymes to properly digest food. Our stomach is very acidic, and that’s a good thing. We want to keep it acidic so it can properly digest food. However, when our stomach is underactive, it may not be producing enough acid. Low hydrochloric acid in the stomach is often the cause of an underactive stomach.
What causes an underactive stomach?
A diet that is rich in animal protein (especially red meat), dairy products, processed foods or fast foods can contribute to an underactive stomach as over time, a diet rich in these foods can over-work the stomach. The enzyme required to breakdown protein (pepsin) is only activated in the presence of hydrochloric acid so when this is low you may have trouble with these foods and hence, have bloating.
Drinking liberally at mealtime can also contribute to this as it may dilute your digestive enzymes that are working so hard to break food down. Other possible contributors include not chewing your food properly or being stressed during mealtime (stress shuts down digestion! Remember our post about food and stress?).
How can an underactive stomach affect your health?
An underactive stomach may be contributing to symptoms mentioned earlier, such as gas and bloating, it may affect your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, and it also may be contributing to problems you are having with your colon, such as constipation.
So what can you do to support your digestion?
- Try eating small regular meals throughout the day
- Limit high protein foods such as red meat and dairy
- Try to avoid processed and fast food and stick to a whole foods diet
- Instead of drinking liberally with meals take small sips or avoid it all together and drink plenty 30 minutes before or after eating
- Keep mealtime a stress free event
- Slow down and chew your food!
If you wish to take this a step further we recommend drinking a large glass of room temperature water with half a lemon squeezed in upon rising. You can also try taking a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar in some water before a meal to help stimulate digestion.
Remember these suggestion are meant to help you heal from your symptoms (no you don’t have to live the rest of your life being gassy or bloated after every meal!!) and once your body is restored to it’s natural balance you can keep these as good housekeeping tips to revisit every once and a while.