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Protein can also be a problem if low stomach acid

protein hard to digest food low stomach acid FODMAPs low starch low fibre wheat & grains bacterial overgrowth SIBO GERD

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#1 tummyrumbles


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Posted 03 February 2016 - 09:25 PM

We need high levels of stomach acid in order to digest all our food, carbohydrates as well as proteins. 
Chris Kresser and Norm Robillard wrote some very interesting articles about low stomach acid and H.Pylori, a bacteria that lives in the stomach. These articles are mainly GERD related but the information is just as valid for IBS (where we don’t really know what causes our condition). The theory is that stomach acid naturally decreases as we age. One reason for this could be due to overgrowth of H.Pylori. H.Pylori is believed to be the most common pathogen. H.Pylori secrete an enzyme, urease, which is converted to ammonia. This ammonia reduces stomach acidity, making it a more favourable environment for bacteria to multiply.
H.Pylori is believed to be a factor in GERD and GERD has a strong association with SIBO and IBS. 
Fermentation of carbohydrates creates hydrogen gas, and H.Pylori and quite a few other pathogens feed on this. Excessive fructose, fibre, starch, and wheat increase hydrogen production which in turn fuels more bacterial overgrowth.
Low stomach acid causes maldigestion of carbohydrates, as well as proteins. Stomach acid (HCL) stimulates the release of pancreatic enzymes into the small intestine. If the pH of the stomach is too high due to insufficient stomach acid there won’t be enough enzymes to break down the carbohydrates.
Maldigestion of carbohydrates & protein feel bacteria, and bacteria feed on maldigested carbohydrates & protein, so it’s a vicious cycle. 
We tend to think of protein as a fairly safe food for IBS but this might not be the case. If you do have low stomach acid, then proteins will be much harder to digest. Certain proteins are a lot harder to digest than others. Red meat is believed to be the hardest to digest because it is protein-dense, with little water content. One of the most easily digested proteins are eggs, and soft boiled eggs are believed to be easier to digest than hard boiled eggs. As a general rule the longer the cooking the tougher the protein becomes. Hard cheese has low lactose levels and is believed to be easier to digest than meat, and a couple of slices will help to keep hunger at bay.
These are some general tips on ways to improve digestion:
  • Limit high fibre foods, high starch foods, high fructose and high FODMAPs as much as possible
  • Try a more easily digestible protein such as soft boiled eggs in preference to meats which are harder to digest
  • Don’t drink water with your meals. There is a general belief that water dilutes stomach acid if taken at the same time as meals. Drink water between meals.
  • As a general rule, the more “watery” the food the easier it is to digest. 
  • Some starches, such as very well cooked and mashed potatoes, have a much lower starch level than very high starch foods like rice, wheat and other grains. While potatoes are illegal on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, longer cooking and mashing can greatly reduce the starch content. Starchy vegetables tend to be more filling. No diet will work if you are constantly hungry.
  • Overloading the stomach (overeating) will further affect digestion if you do produce low stomach acid. 
  • Eat small, frequent meals
  • Only eat when you’re hungry
  • Porridge oats has the lowest starch content of all the cereals. Oats are “illegal” on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet website however are probably the least troublesome of all the grains.
  • Vegetables are the preferred food for IBS but might need longer boiling or more mashing or pureeing, depending on the level of gut sensitivity. 
  • Try not to eat late at night as this is another cause of indigestion.
  • Chew carefully so enzymes can digest as much carbohydrate as possible.
  • Try repairing your gut first, before experimenting with prebiotics, probiotics, cabbage juice etc. A lot of these are high in FODMAPs and could do more harm than good, at least in the early stages when you're trying to correct the bacterial imbalance. In the beginning stages, try to just stick with vegetables and easy to digest proteins.
  • Chicken broth should be easily digested and contains glutamic acids which help to heal the gut. This is the recipe: Simmer chicken frames, celery and carrot for a few hours. Drain the soup through a sieve and discard the solids so all that’s left is the broth. Refrigerate overnight. Remove the top layer of fat the next day, and reheat. Have this in between meals because of the high water content.
  • Try reducing your meds as much as possible so you can properly evaluate whether or not this change in diet is improving your symptoms.

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#2 Leo41


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Posted 04 February 2016 - 09:46 AM

Good points. Worth noting whey protein ( if tolerated ) is likely the most digestible and bioavailable protein out there. I often have low stomach acid (from Gerd, and PPI's) and it never gives me a problem, actually most times soothes. I use it with lactose free 1% milk. Actually it is one of the very few foods that give me no problems. I supplement approx 100 grams of protein daily with this, and have gained roughly 5-8 lbs of muscle tissue on a limited low calorie diet within the last 6 months. 


IMO if you have moderate to severe IBS, and have to stick to a limited diet protein is the most important thing to get. 

#3 dlind70


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Posted 06 February 2016 - 04:50 PM

soaked almonds first thing are prebiotics for the gut and set the acid in the stomach.  Whey (fresh is best) with vitamin C foods is great too to keep your stomach temp up and HPylori at bay.

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: protein, hard to digest food, low stomach acid, FODMAPs, low starch, low fibre, wheat & grains, bacterial overgrowth, SIBO, GERD


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