You might chalk it up to some spicy food you overindulged in (nachos ARE delicious) or it might just be a pretty normal occurrence for you.
"I AM CURSED," you might think and just reach for some Pepto or Tums or some other type of calming agent. Calm the acid cure the symptom. Rinse repeat.
But did you know that burn is often because of TOO LITTLE stomach acid rather than TOO MUCH?
What? I know.
So here is the deal. Continuing from my post of CHEWING YOUR FOOD. The next step in digestion is the stomach.
The stomach is a powerhouse that crushes food into tiny food bits so that it can go through the rest of the system and be optimally digested and utlized.
It is meant to be highly acidic in there so that it CAN break down your food.
You chew your food, it goes down the esophagus where it encounters the esophageal sphincter which opens up to permit the food inside (I know, I know "sphincter" what a word).
The food is now in the stomach. The stomach goes into action releasing a ton of different gastric juices from tiny gastric glands in the its lining. This breaks down the food even more and turns everything into a paste we call chyme.
When the chyme is acidic enough it triggers the pyloric sphincter to open up and allow the chyme through to the small intestines for further digestion (more on that later).
When you have LOW stomach acid this whole process goes sideways.
The food doesn't get fully digested from the acids so it sits in your stomach. What happens when you leave food in a warm place? Well. Not good things.
Proteins putrefy, fats go rancid, and carbs ferment.
This means that the mixture in your tummy starts to bubble up and though it IS NOT ACIDIC enough to trigger the lower sphincter to open it IS ACIDIC enough to burn your upper sphincter at the end of your esophagus.
Which is what you feel.
And then you take some sort of calming agent that DOES relieve the symptom, but doesn't help food to get to the level of acidity it needs to be to be in able to continue the digestive process.
This is bad news. The food eventually continues through the system, but not fully digested. Having protein putrefy produces acids that actually hurt the mucosal lining of your stomach which allows microorganisms such as h-pylori to exist.
This on a chronic level is terrible for your gut as h-pylori leads to ulcers. No one wants those.
Here is the thing. There are SOME people with legitimately too much stomach acid, but they are the anomaly. Much more common is to have too little.
I know! Crazy! But if you think about it, it really does make sense. You might want to check out this book "Why Stomach Acid is Good for You" if you are interested in learning more.