Flaky, Peeling Fingernails? Check Your Stomach Acid!

    When I am thinking about how to get someone well, the first thing I think about generally is ‘are they digesting and absorbing well enough?’

Imagine: the person has fatigue, can’t fight infections off, perhaps has candida, just generally feels they’re operating at a lower level than they should be. They used to be so much better than this. They’re probably over 35.

I look down at their hands first and check their fingernails. Are there any white spots (sign of mineral deficiency, especially of zinc) or are the nails flaky and peely? If the latter is not caused by false nails (!), it is a good sign of low stomach acid. That gives us somewhere to start.

Hypochlorydia (That’s Low Stomach Acid To You And Me!)

Low stomach acid, or hypochlorydia to use the proper medical name, is a subject I witter on about rather a lot.

Why? Because, quite simply, if you can’t break food down, how are you going to get the macronutrients like proteins, carbs and fats, and the micronutrients like minerals to run your body’s engine? Equally, how are you going to kill off opportunistic bacteria and other baddies like candida yeast if you can’t kill them with acid as they enter the body? This is very often through the mouth – that’s why we do a swab as part of the candida test!

Hang on, I know you are thinking: ‘My problem is too much stomach acid; I’m forever getting heartburn or indigestion and reaching for the Rennies or Gaviscon!’

Ah, but did you know that the symptoms of hypochlorydia can be exactly the same as having too much stomach acid?

Often, a person who has acidity, heartburn or reflex actually has poor stomach acid production. This happens because the signal to stop producing it doesn’t get triggered because the acid level is too low, so the body simply carries on producing it and you then get acidity problems. Yes, too much acid in the stomach and gullet, but for a very different reason.

Most people taking antacids probably have this issue and aren’t taking the right remedy at all. In my experience about 1 in 10 people with acid problems actually do have too much stomach acid – the rest have hypochlorydia or a different problem such as a food intolerance.

Can you imagine the long term consequences of a person with already low stomach acid pushing it further down with meds over time? It is no surprise that bone loss has been linked to the use of indigestion meds – it makes sense now, doesn’t it?

Other Hypochlorydia Symptoms

Other clues of Hypochlorydia include burping, bloating, feeling too full within half an hour of eating (unless you genuinely have eaten too much!), constipation, diarrhoea, fatigue, hair loss and even acne can be related.

Obviously, if you’re not breaking down nutrients in food properly, any symptoms could be related to a deficiency of a nutrient, or to toxins being produced by an opportunistic bacteria, mould, yeast or parasite.

Hypochlorydia, means the inadequate production of stomach acid (betaine HCl) by the parietal cells in the stomach. Achlorydia means a complete lack of stomach acid production.

Some experts believe that about half of all people over 65 suffer hypochlorydia – and certainly it’s known that the amount of acid we produce gets lower as we get over about 40, although I have found it very often in much younger people.

But, how do you know if yours is high or low?

Testing Low Stomach Acid

   There are a couple of ways to test stomach acid. There’s the bicarb test to see how much you burp once an alkaline substance is introduced to the stomach.

There’s the acidity test where you see if extra acid hurts more or less. Really. Promise: it does answer the question for you!

If either of those look suspect, you can do the Betaine test where you can get an idea of how little stomach acid you’re actually producing.

There is also a test where we can send a capsule on a string down into your stomach via your mouth and pull it back out and check. Sounds horrible, but it is easy to do yourself at home, although I do admit most people don’t want to do that one!

Whichever way you test for it, if you find it, that’s a really important result. Remember: you are not just what you eat, but what you can absorb. No absorption over time means low nutrients, sluggish systems and early degenerative disease.

SO important to find and correct it.

What About Low Digestive Enzymes?

If your acid levels are low, it is more than likely so is your production of digestive enzymes. You can check that using the Pancreatic enzyme test and/or use enzymes as a short term booster.

How Do You Treat Low Stomach Acid and/or Low Enzymes?

Cover of Low Stomach Acid & Enzyme Factsheet    To help, I have written everything down I would normally do with patients in a 17 page detailed DIY Digestion factsheet. In it, you’ll find more info on the subject and how to do the home and lab tests mentioned.

Once confirmed, I have given you a detailed, product-specific treatment plan – believe me, not all acid and enzyme products are the same! I have also listed the top causes of the problem so you can address any that apply and then don’t have to be taking extra stomach acid and enzymes your whole life!

 Click the button to get an immediate download.

Order button for Hypochlorydia and Enzyme factsheet

PS. Worried you can’t take supplements? Don’t. I have included foods and other techniques known to stimulate digestion for you. And, they work; I use them myself!

PPS. Wouldn’t you want to know what two supposedly naughty foods can help stimulate enzyme production after a meal? Here’s a clue: they both begin with C and one does indeed rhyme with Frockolate. Now, there’s an excuse, although it does have to be the right stuff!

Note: This factsheet comes free with the Barrier Plan for leaky gut and multiple allergy as one of the 12 supplementing guides that are part of the Barrier Plan package.

Hope it helps. Happy digesting and absorbing!


6 Replies to “Flaky, Peeling Fingernails? Check Your Stomach Acid!”

  1. I was told I had gerd when I went to the doc for having chest pain. They told me to me to take antacids of course. I recently discovered that gerd causes bad breath (which I have) and could be a sign of low stomach acid. So I started taking betaine hcl supplements. I’m taking 4/day and my nails are peeling now. I have had ridges for the longest time which I discovered was probably due to a protein deficiency. I want to go to the doc since I now have health insurance but I’m scared that they aren’t going to do any tests or will even be competent about the correlation between gerd and low stomach acidity. I also been told I am anemic. I don’t know what to do. I hate going to the doc because I feel its a just a big business for them and the pharmaceutical company and arr just going to give me a acid blocker , which wont cure or help me. The brand I take is ” integrative therapeutics” and each capsule has 1.3g of betaine hcl and 260mg of Pepsin. Please help with any suggestions.

    1. Hi Amber, you really need to talk to a local health practitioner who can assess you properly there. The first thing I would do is read the stomach acid and enzyme factsheet and test to see if you are indeed low as you don’t want to be taking HCl if you are already high n acid as you will do yourself some damage.

  2. Hello Micky. I have microcytic anemia for the past five years (that’s when it was diagnosed incidentally) and I’m on iron supplements. When I stop taking them my Hb levels deteriorate. I have been experiencing bloating for a long time especially post meals but I have never thought of it as a serious issue. I burp a lot, especially when I drink something. I have occasional constipation and i feel fatigued most of the time especially after doing any physical activity. Recently I have started having serious hair fall and my hair is thinning. Do I have hypochlorhydria? please help.

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