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Hypochlorhydria – A lack of adequate stomach acid

Hypochlorhydria can be relieved with Papaya

Hypochlorhydria – a condition where there is a lack of adequate stomach acid, i.e. hydrochloric acid (HCl) being secreted into the stomach.

This condition is more common than Hyperchlorhydria (excess stomach acid). Hypochlorhydria can lead to many health issues. Food that is not broken down moves from the stomach, into the small intestine and colon, and then exits the body unutilised. High acid levels are required for the break down of many trace minerals such as zinc, iron, copper, magnesium, calcium, boron, selenium, and vitamins B12 and B3.


Therapeutic Considerations include

Low acid secretions can be associated with:

  • Certain drug treatments, such as some heartburn medications e.g. proton pump inhibitors, used to treat stomach ulcers or gastric reflux
  • Increasing age (at age 45, stomach acid naturally decreases)
  • Hypochlorhydria is also associated with the following conditions; chronic Helicobacter pylori infections, pernicious anaemia, diabetes, HIV, SLE, chronic pancreatitis and bacterial over growth of the small intestine
  • Identify cause and restore acid levels – supplementation


Dietary Recommendations:

Small meals more often and eating protein part of the meal first.

Beneficial Foods *:

  • Pineapple (bromelain), papaya (papain) – supports digestion (when eaten with food) due to its proteolytic enzymes
  • Bitter foods (rocket, radicchio, lemon juice) – shown to stimulate digestion
  • Probiotic rich foods (eg. Natural yoghurt, miso soup, kefir and sauerkraut) to help regulate bowel flora – aiding in the proper digestion of food in the gut, as well as the synthesis and absorption of nutrients. Increasing consumption of prebiotic foods (eg. bananas, rye, oats, leaks, garlic and asparagus) will provide nourishment for beneficial bacteria in the bowel
  • Adding apple cider vinegar to all meals (2-3 tsp in water with meals) – will also help to stimulate gastric digestion
  • Increasing omega 3 intake (as found in salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna and flaxseed) – to reduce inflammation

*) These food recommendations are to be used as a guide only. Certain individuals may find they are unable to tolerate some of these products.


Dietary Exclusions

  • Lentils, soybeans and peanuts – high in protein thus difficult to digest with low/reduced HCl secretions
  • Alcohol and smoking – promote inflammation
  • Antacids – will reduce stomach acidity further


Recommended Lifestyle Modifications

  • Eating 5-6 small meals per day will help to reduce the “work load’ for you stomach.
  • Maintain hydration during the day to enhance flow of secretions.
  • Try and cease taking any medications which impair HCl secretions eg. antacids and/or proton pump inhibitors


Highly Indicated Nutrients (including dose, justification and food sources)

  • Betaine Hydrochloride (500 – 650mg per large meal) – Increases hydrochloric acid in the stomach, destroys detrimental bacteria in the stomach, enhances the absorption of many nutrients and stimulates the conversion of pepsinogen to pepsin. Food sources; echinacea, beetroot, broccoli, spinach, wheat flour
  • Choline (1000 – 3500mg) – Involved in betaine metabolism. Food sources; beans, wholegrain cereal
  • Zinc (30 – 50mg) – Hydrochloric acid production is dependent on zinc. Zinc also enhances immune function, prevents infection and promotes healing. Food sources; cashews, ginger, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, wholegrains
  • Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 ( Folate: 400 – 1200mcg daily and Vitamin B12: 500 – 2000mcg daily) – For cellular growth. Vitamin B12 deficiency may contribute to Hypochloridia. Food sources; Folate: green leafy vegetables, legumes. Vitamin B12: bacterial synthesis in the gut, fish, egg yolk.

PLEASE NOTE: These recommendations are to be used as a guide only.


A multivitamin/mineral supplement may also be beneficial since hypochlorhydria can lead to deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals

Please feel free to contact us with any questions you have regarding Hypochlorhydria.

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