H. Pylori and Sleep
If you’re an adult, you've probably heard of H. pylori at some point in your life.
H. pylori is a bacteria that is common in a lot of people. It is the main cause of peptic ulcers, and as many as 50% of adults have this bacteria in their stomachs, at some point in their lives.
H. pylori is probably one of the most common imbalances that we see in our clients and if it gets out of balance, it can become a really big issue and have a significant impact on your health and your sleep.
So, what is H. pylori?
H. pylori or Heliobacter pylori is a spiral-shaped bacteria that lives in the walls of your stomach lining and damages cells that secrete stomach acid and it secretes an enzyme that is called urease. Urease neutralizes your stomach acid.
So, if you have certain levels of H. pylori, you might not have any stomach acid left because of that enzyme that gets excreted from it.
Why is this a problem?
Good levels of stomach acid are crucial to our overall health.
Stomach acid is our first line of defence in the gut because it stops pathogens that we might ingest through food that we didn't wash properly or contaminated water that we drink. Low stomach acid levels allow for the overgrowth of bad bacteria and they can lead to things like candida or parasites because they don't get neutralized by the stomach acid in the gut.
Also, H. pylori is the most common cause of peptic ulcers. If there is a peptic ulcer that is developing in the gut, it is highly likely from an H. pylori infection. If that is the case, this needs to be watched because ulcers can evolve into gastritis and stomach cancer at a later stage.
How do we get H. pylori?
The most common sources are contaminated water or food and person-to-person transmission - think kissing. It is super spreadable and quite contagious so overall hygiene (washing food prior to eating it, bathroom hygiene) is something we all should pay attention to.
What are the symptoms of an H. pylori infection?
Most people don't even have any symptoms at all and don't know they have h. pylori.
But if you have some of the following symptoms, this can definitely be an indicator:
- acid reflux
- cramping in the upper abdomen
- constant belching or burping
- bad breath
- recurring issues with candida or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
- undigested food in your stool
- nutrient deficiencies, and more
How does H. pylori actually affect your sleep?
H. pylori damages the lining of your stomach. It infests the stomach lining and through that, it causes inflammation. Inflammation always causes the release of cortisol (our stress or awake hormone), which suppresses melatonin (our sleepy hormone) and leads to sleep issues.
Also, because H. pylori infections lead to lower levels of stomach acid, people who have this type of infection often have another gut issue, like parasites or candida because the stomach acid is low and the entry barrier for pathogens is low.
So, if you're somebody who's had candida, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, you've treated it and it keeps coming back and you can't really get on top of it, then H. pylori might be the reason. It should always be checked for and addressed prior to addressing other gut issues.
H. pylori doesn’t just affect your sleep through inflammation in your gut.
It can cause symptoms like acid reflux.
A lot of people think that having acid reflux means they have too much stomach acid, but that's actually incorrect. In most cases, acid reflux is caused by too little stomach acid and the food gets pushed back up towards the esophagus and that causes the acid to come up as well.
Also, because H. pylori resides in the gut, its presence can over time lead to a lot of nutrient deficiencies in people. If we’re deficient in nutrients like magnesium and zinc, that will affect our immune health as well as our sleep.
On top of that, recent studies have come out that show a potential link that needs further investigation between H. pylori and obstructive sleep apnea.
How do I test for H. pylori?
Doctors have many different ways to do this: breath tests, blood tests, and endoscopies.
However, in most cases, doctors only test if symptoms are present and consistent. Here, at Sleep Like a Boss, we run a stool test (Gi-MAP) on every client because if H. pylori is present in your gut, it will show up in your stool - symptoms or not.
How is H. pylori treated?
Usually, doctors treat it with multiple rounds of antibiotics, but this hasn't really shown to be that successful overall, and the problem of antibiotic use is that it negatively affects our gut microbiome and brings more imbalance to it. This alone can have negative impacts on sleep and mood.
There are great combinations of herbs available that have been shown over and over again in studies to work and actually help address this issue, like broccoli powder, ginger, raw honey, oregano oil, etc.
But this is not something that should be self-administered because some of these are really, really strong herbs and they can cause disruption in your gut microbiome if they are not dosed correctly. They should only be used as part of a comprehensive gut-healing plan.
Is there anything you can do right now if you suspect you have H. pylori?
Yes, absolutely - address H. pylori with food. It will help alleviate symptoms and can lower the infection a bit.
- Eat in a relaxed state and don't rush. This relaxed state is also known as the “rest and digest” mode where we release stomach acid and digestive enzymes that allow us to break down and absorb the food that we eat. If we eat stressed or rushed, we impair digestion.
- Chew your food, really well. Make sure the food is really liquid before you swallow it.
- Add broccoli sprouts to your meals. Broccoli sprouts and broccoli powder have been shown to be really successful in lowering H. pylori levels.
- Drink really strong ginger tea an hour to 30 minutes before your meal because ginger also helps produce stomach acid and aids digestion.
- Use digestive bitters 30 minutes before a meal to support your digestion.
If you have questions about h. pylori or are interested in working with us, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a call via the button below this post.
We would love to help you get your sleep, energy and health back on track!