- Breaking down food: Stomach acid is highly acidic, with a pH level of around 1.3 to 3.5. This acidic environment helps to break down proteins in food into smaller, more absorbable molecules.
- Killing bacteria and viruses: The acidity of stomach acid also helps to kill harmful bacteria and viruses that may be present in food, protecting the body from infection.
- Aiding in nutrient absorption: Stomach acid helps to activate certain enzymes that are necessary for the absorption of nutrients such as iron and calcium.
Here’s an image of the stomach highlighting the production of stomach acid:
Stomach anatomy highlighting stomach acid production
It’s important to clarify that there’s no such thing as an “acid allergy.” Allergies are triggered by an immune system response to substances that are usually harmless, called allergens. Stomach acid, on the other hand, is a natural substance produced by the body.
However, there are conditions that can involve an abnormal reaction to stomach acid or its presence in places where it shouldn’t be, such as:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): This condition occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. This can cause heartburn, chest pain, and other symptoms.
- Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE): This is a chronic inflammatory condition of the esophagus caused by white blood cells called eosinophils. While the exact cause is unknown, it’s believed to be triggered by an allergic reaction to certain foods or airborne allergens.
- Gastritis: This is an inflammation of the stomach lining, which can be caused by various factors, including infection, overuse of certain medications, and excessive alcohol consumption.
These conditions can cause symptoms that may be mistaken for an “acid allergy,” such as heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.
I hope this clarifies the difference between stomach acid and acid allergies!