Hydrochloric acid is one of the main components of the stomach's naturally produced gastric acid and is used in helping to break down consumed food by stimulating the release of digestive enzymes.
If the stomach's layer of protective mucus breaks down, the production of hydrochloric and gastric acids can burn the stomach's lining, leading to ulcers. However, a more common problem is having too low levels of hydrochloric acid (called hypochlorhydria) because of a diet high in processed sugars, carbohydrates and foods made of dairy products. Unfortunately, the symptoms of these two conditions are similar, but hypochlorhydria is very common in older adults.
There are many foods that can help to stimulate the body's natural ability to produce hydrochloric acid.
Vinegar is one of the fastest remedies to supplement hydrochloric acid production. Between one and 10 teaspoons of vinegar in a glass of water can provide an immediate stimulation in the body's hydrochloric acid production--fast enough to help break down the meal you eat with the diluted vinegar.
Because vinegar can be harsh and burn the throat, it should always be taken diluted in water or within a meal. If you experience an unpleasant burning sensation, you can counteract the vinegar by drinking water with a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in it.
Black olives are acidic and stimulate the immune system, as well as the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. While hydrochloric acid helps to build the body's natural anti-bacterial agents, black olives contain an additional anti-bacterial and anti-fungal antioxidant, polyphenols.
Green olives have not had a time to ripen and, therefore, don't contain all the nutritional benefits that black olives do.
Celery is a low-calorie, healthy alternative to increase the amount of hydrochloric acid in the body, partly because of its ability to increase bile acid secretion (which can help to lower cholesterol). It is also a natural source of sodium, which is necessary for the body's production of hydrochloric acid.
Additionally, celery contains coumarins, which increases white blood cell activity and therefore heightens the immune system.
A variety of leafy greens--including kale, spinach and wheat or barley grasses--all help to stimulate the stomach's production of hydrochloric acid. While different families of leafy greens have a variety of different health benefits (including cancer-fighting abilities and promoting pancreas health), almost all are considered to be healthy ways to naturally increase the amount of hydrochloric acid the body produces.
Lemon juice has long been considered an excellent aid to digestive health, in part because of its ability to increase the body's production of hydrochloric acid. Lemon juice is also taken for its healthy effects on the gallbladder and richness in Vitamin C, making tit helpful in the body's absorption of iron.