I have written about the importance of stomach acid before, but I wanted to cover this subject again because I have recently understood even more about the importance of good levels of hydrochloric acid for proper digestion.
Stomach acid (HCL acid) is really potent stuff. The stomach has a special lining to stop the acid causing damage. This protective layer only exists in the stomach, so if stomach acid passes up the oesophagus (throat), damage can quickly occur.
People who suffer from heartburn complain of excruciating pain from the burning experienced when acid reflux occurs. Many, many people suffer from acid reflux and therefore, many, many people are prescribed antacids or protein-pump inhibitors such as Omeprozole, to either neutralize the acid or reduce the amount being produced.
This is disastrous for digestion, here?s why:
In my previous blog on this subject I explained how low acid levels fails to trigger the valve at the top of the stomach to shut properly, allowing acid to leak up in to the oesophagus, causing heart burn. But there?s another reason for this happening:
Stomach acid kills off nasty bugs, parasites and bacteria in our food. Low acid levels can result in some of these undesirable bacteria and parasites passing in to the intestine. This is already a bad situation but made worse when you factor in that these bacteria then feed on carbohydrates that are not being well digested due to the fact that low acid levels means that the food leaving the stomach is not at a high enough acid level to trigger the production of digestive enzymes.
Without adequate amounts of enzymes, we cannot break food down properly. Hence, those nasty bacteria that have passed in to the intestine, start feasting on the undigested carbohydrate causing all sorts of problems, such as the production of lots of gas, which is experienced as bloating and pain. But also, these gases can cause a backpressure that forces its way back up in to the stomach and through the top of the stomach, allowing acid to leak up in to the delicate oesophagus, hence the burning.
Further problems of this scenario come from the lack of enzymes preventing proteins being broken down in to amino acids. Different amino acids have different jobs in the body and if we don?t get adequate amounts of amino acids out ability to heal and repair starts to suffer. Amino aids mend tissues, heal muscles and provide the main ingredients for the manufacture of neurotransmitters, namely serotonin, our feel good brain chemical, which is also essential for the manufacture of our sleep hormone, melatonin.
Similarly, if our food leaves the stomach with inadequate acid levels, the gall bladder does not get triggered to release adequate bile in to the intestine. Bile breaks down our dietary fats in to fatty acids. Fatty acids have many vital jobs in the body, including hormone manufacture, transporting oxygen around the body and providing energy when glucose levels are low.
So, as you can see, reducing your HCL acid levels is a seriously bad idea.
To improve your digestive processes, you need to have good levels of HCL acid ? FACT! There are HCL acid supplements that can be taken to increase acid levels when you eat. The product is called Betaine, often sold with an enzyme required for protein breakdown, called Pepsin. Taken with food, this can really help the whole of your digestion.
To know how many you need, take one, then two, then three and continue increasing the amount, with food, until you feel a mild burning. You then know you?ve taken too many so take one less with all your meals. Over time your body will adjust and you will be able to reduce and then stop taking the Betaine.
Other really helpful tips:
- Chew, chew, chew and chew some more. This triggers acid production.
- Take a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar in a little water at the beginning of meals.
- Eat small amounts of protein at every meal.
- Manage stress ? when we are stressed, our production of HCL acid reduces. Therefore, eating when you?re stressed is a really bad idea.