When someone is affected by stomach problems such as bloating, heartburn, gas, and indigestion, the assumption is to take an antacid or other similar over-the-counter remedies to reduce the stomach acid. However, the problem may be just the opposite: there’s not enough stomach acid. Taking an antacid will actually make the problem worse by further reducing the already depleted amount of stomach acid.

In a healthy digestive system, the proper concentration of stomach acid—also known as hydrochloric acid or HCl—kills the unhealthy bacteria and fungi that are normally ingested with food. If the HCl concentration is too low, a chronic condition called hypochlorhdyria develops. Surprisingly, hypochlorhydria affects up to half of the general population, especially the elderly, since stomach acid production naturally decreases with age.

With low stomach acid, food can’t be broken down and digested easily; therefore, “bad” bacteria are allowed to survive. These “bag bugs” now have a good environment in which to multiply, since there is plenty of undigested food in the stomach for them to eat. The delicate balance between the good bacteria (probiotics) and bad bacteria throughout the digestive tract is lost.

A low output of HCl can lead to chronic nutrient deficiencies, as the body’s ability to absorb vitamins, amino acids, and minerals becomes severely compromised. Bad bacteria and fungal overgrowths and prolonged nutrient deficiency set the stage for many chronic conditions.