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Autoimmune Conditions Affect Stomach Acid

Autoimmune Conditions Affect Stomach Acid

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Parietal cells are found in the stomach and have two very important jobs. First, parietal cells make stomach acid that digests the food we eat. This acid is extremely significant in helping with digestive motility, breakdown of food to facilitate absorption of nutrients and even helps to prevent reflux of food into the esophagus by communicating to the band between the stomach and esophagus to stay closed during digestion. Secondly, parietal cells secrete a glycoprotein called intrinsic factor that allows for absorption of B12 in the small intestine.

There is a known autoimmune condition, when the body attacks its own healthy tissue, which targets parietal cells. Autoimmune reactions create what is called antibodies, which can be measured through blood testing. Antibodies against parietal cells are more commonly found in people who already have an existing autoimmune disease. Specifically, individuals with autoimmune conditions including type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and vitiligo have been found to possess these antibodies up to 40 percent of the time. A simple blood test can tell if you are making these antibodies that compromise the acidity of your stomach and inhibit your ability to absorb vitamin B12.

Those who already have an autoimmune condition are likely aware of anti-inflammatory diet strategies, stress reduction techniques and supplements that support the condition. When it comes to addressing anti-parietal cell antibodies, there are two key things shown to reduce these antibodies:

• Test for any imbalances in the microbiome (healthy bacteria). Specifically, H. pylori, an infection that resides in the stomach, is found more often in those individuals with positive anti-parietal cell antibodies.

• Therapeutic doses of B12 has been demonstrated to decrease the antibodies via oral supplementation or injection.

With so many people on stomach acid-reducing medications, poor lifestyle choices and digestive infections, depleted stomach acid and B12 deficiency has become the norm. Removing these stomach acid reducing factors can help improve proper parietal cell activity.

For many people suffering with reflux and poor nutrient absorption, the cause is likely because of too little stomach acid, and an underlying autoimmune condition is often overlooked as the potential cause. If you suffer from gas, bloating or reflux, have low nutrient levels including B12 or have an existing autoimmune disease, anti-parietal cell and anti-intrinsic factor antibody testing might be worth investigating.

Dr. Lauren Young is a naturopathic physician and clinic director at Collaborative Natural Health, LLC, in Manchester. The practice is comprised of naturopathic doctors and primary care osteopathic doctors who work with most major health insurance networks. Call 860-533-0179 for an appointment. See ad, page 8.

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