By Michael Biamonte, C.C.N.
A healthy acid/alkaline balance of your body is the key to great health. When your body is functioning in top form, the digestive tract alternates back and forth between an alkaline and acid pH. Digestion starts in the mouth (which works optimally at an alkaline pH). Moving downwards, digestion in the stomach requires an acid pH. Next, the small intestines need an alkaline pH. Finally the large intestine works best in a slightly acid pH. If any segment fails to keep its proper pH, then the segment before or after it can begin to malfunction. For example, the stomach works best at a low acid pH. If the stomach can’t produce enough stomach acid, then it becomes too alkaline. This in turn, can cause the small intestines (which should be alkaline) to become too acid.
Low Stomach Acid
For many people, as they get older, the parietal cells in the stomach lining produce less and less hydrochloric acid. This is especially true of those who eat:
- Heavily cooked foods (which have no live enzymes)
- Difficult-to-digest foods such as red meat or fried foods
- Chemicalized foods, such as those containing artificial preservatives and additives
- Soft drinks, which contain high amounts of phosphorus, white sugar, and immune-stressing chemicals and
- Barbequed foods, which cause high digestive stress. (The blackened areas of the food contain carcinogenic [cancer-causing] agents.)
Adequate hydrochloric acid is necessary to absorb vitamin B12. B12 deficiency can cause muscle weakness, fatigue and many nervous system problems. Healthy stomach acid is also required to absorb many minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper and most B-complex vitamins. Those with poor stomach acid typically have low vitamin C levels.
Absorption of Nutrients
Exhausted Adrenals Adequate Adrenal function is important to stimulate the stomach to produce Hcl by using the mineral potassium to stimulate the vagus nerve that leads to the stomach.
Low or High Acid Stomach?
Low stomach acid can cause indigestion. Believe or not, too little stomach acid is the most common cause of an acid stomach, not excess acid. Some people take antacids to relieve the uncomfortable acid feeling in their stomachs (common after eating high protein or high fat meals). But the vast majority of those with an “acid stomach” suffer from not enough acid. They simply can’t digest what they’ve eaten. For some, an antacid may temporarily relieve a queasy stomach, but in the long run, regular use of antacids makes the problem worse.
Conquering The Queasy Stomach
If you suffer from an acid stomach, avoid high protein meals, especially red meat. Instead of antacids, begin taking quality digestive enzymes at the end of each large meal, whether you have pain or not. [Do not take hydrochloric acid if you have an ulcer.] Be sure you have adequate daily salt intake (from natural sea salt). The chloride fraction in salt is essential for your body to make hydrochloric acid. That’s why a low-salt diet commonly leads to poor digestion over time.
If your blood type is type A or B limit or eliminate your red meat consumption. Type O’s need to eat red meat to stimulate the stomach acid production. Do not eat meals past 7 P.M.
A Natural Antibiotic
Healthy stomach acid helps kill disease-causing microbes and parasites routinely found in food you eat. If you have low stomach acid, these infecting invaders may not be destroyed by your stomach’s acid bath. They can then cause many types of infections. Now you can see why low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) is associated with so many common health problems. If these infections are not cleared, over time they can cause many symptoms, paving the way for full-blown diseases. (See charts below.)
Candida Can Occur As We Get Older
Over 50% of the people over age 60 have low stomach acid. By age 85, 80% have low stomach acid. These are shocking statistics. Healthy stomach acid is crucial to digest food properly in order to maintain good health. Hydrochloric acid is one of your body’s first line defenses against disease-causing microbes. Weak stomach acid allows infecting organisms (that would normally be killed by the acid) to get past the stomach and set up infections in other areas. They can cause food poisoning and dysbiosis of the intestinal tract (abnormal overgrowth of unhealthy intestinal microbes).
For people aged 60 to 80, over 20% have bacterial overgrowth in the intestines. Over age 80, the percentage increases to 40%. This abnormal bacterial overgrowth is also common in younger people. It is linked to low stomach acid as well as eating a nutrient poor diet, using antibiotics or pain killers, drinking excess alcohol and other factors. Thus, healthy stomach acid is a critical part of maintaining healthy intestines.
Candida and Digestion
A diet that includes fiber and mycelium yeast forms will produce large amounts of fiber to promote the growth of good bacteria in the colon, which produces large quantities of vitamins and lactic acid. Lactic acid production is essential if constipation is to be prevented. Chronic constipation and chronic fatigue are usually associated with Candida overgrowth. So, by healing your body of constipation, you will go a long way in healing your body of Candida.
This is the area where lactic-acid producing products such as Lactic Acid Yeast (Sources) and others do their major and most important work. If the colon is to properly complete the digestive-eliminative process, it must have “friendly” intestinal flora that exists symbiotically (mutually beneficial) with the “bad” or unfriendly bacteria. As with so many physiological functions in your body: it is balance and homeostasis that counts.
Candida albicans is not a bad bacterium. Our bodies need it, and it ordinarily lives quietly in a symbiotic relationship with other bacterium. It’s only when the pH of the colon becomes unbalanced (alkaline) and is overwhelmed by an overgrowth of Candida that problems begin. An alkaline colon is to be avoided or corrected. Dr. Bernard Jensen taught for many years that “death begins in the colon,” a truth that has been verified repeatedly. Unless an unhealthy colon is promptly detoxified and maintained, your body will begin to degenerate and age prematurely.
Adequate fiber in the colon is vital for the growth of good intestinal flora. A habitual diet of low fiber foods -highly processed and cooked- with few, if any, fresh vegetables and fruit, makes it impossible to develop the favorable intestinal flora needed to produce daily requirements of B-complex vitamins, vitamin K (a fat soluble vitamin) and lactic acid.
When these vitamins are deficient or in short supply, your health will begin to degenerate and you may experience conditions such as: Candida overgrowth, bladder infections, fatigue, cheilosis (cracks /fissures in the corners of the mouth), thyroid dysfunction, bad breath, hemorrhoids, constipation, burning and ulcerated tongue, bruising, nose bleeds, damaged intestinal walls (leaky gut syndrome), acne, vaginal infections, menstrual difficulties, prostatitis and/or a number of others.
If your digestive system is to do its job, you must do yours. First, of course, is the necessity of drinking a glass of water 20-30 minutes before eating, which enables your stomach to produce adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid (HCL) and pepsin. Deficiency of stomach hydrochloric acid makes it impossible to break down and digest protein, calcium, iron, and other important nutrients.
The main clue for the need of supplemental HCL is intestinal gas, which indicates a possible overgrowth of Candida, because gas-forming bacteria exist only in an alkaline gastrointestinal tract. Remember: your digestive system is not a simple “tube” from mouth to anus. It is a total ecological system. To compromise any part of it is to compromise the whole.
Remember: a healthy gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) depends upon an alkaline mouth and saliva; highly acidic stomach; an alkaline small intestine and slightly acidic colon. This is basic. If your body departs from these norms, fatigue, loss of energy, and a host of other harbingers of declining health and premature aging make themselves known.
As mentioned above, Candida overgrowth is one -possibly the first – early warning sign of possible organ malfunction. The use of lactic acid producers along with other necessary lifestyle and/or diet changes, will turn you in the right direction. No single product or lifestyle change will produce good health. Good health requires consistent attention to your total lifestyle.
Candida Interfers With Digestion
A mistake being made by millions of people is to consider acid reflux or “heart burn” an indicator of “too much stomach acid,” causing them to seek something to neutralize stomach acids. This lack of understanding, writes Dr. Jonathan Wright in his book, Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You, “has given rise to the seven-billion-dollar-a-year antacid industry in the United States.” Overuse of antacids over a long period of time can result in achlorhydria: virtually no stomach acid. This will prevent or greatly decrease your ability to digest and assimilate protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium and other minerals.
The most common adverse effects of achlorhydria include diarrhea, skin reactions, headache, which can sometimes be severe. And, since anything that hinders complete digestion interferes with the pH balance, making the colon alkaline instead of slightly acid, a significant lack of stomach acid may also result in proliferation of Candida and other yeast fungus organisms. Another troublesome condition for the past-fifty individuals is leg cramps, a direct result of the inability to digest and assimilate minerals.
Treatments to Avoid
Antacids are acid-blocking drugs designed and used to treat ulcers and conditions commonly considered as being caused by “excess stomach acid.” These acid-suppressing drugs – H2-receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors – both effectively interfere with the stomach’s acid-producing mechanism. A few of these drugs include: Tagamet, Zantac, Pepcid, Axid, Prilosec, Prevacid, AcipHex, etc.
Those who have read one of my earlier books, The Magic of Minerals, have been introduced to their body’s sodium-potassium pump that’s responsible for producing your body’s hydroelectric power. In this book you have been made familiar with stomach acids, including hydrochloric acid, but few people have heard the term proton pump. This refers to the mechanism inside certain highly specialized cells and glands found only in your stomach lining that produces and secretes hydrochloric acid (HCL).
You should be aware of proton pumps because they directly affect your digestion. Of the two varieties of stomach acid suppressors, proton pump inhibitors are the most potent. It takes only one of these pills to reduce your stomach acid secretion by 90 to 95% for the better part of a day.
Before considering an antacid, I urge you to look up the possible adverse side effects of these and other drugs, because many of them can be quite serious. As mentioned elsewhere, one of the best resources for you to do this is Worst Pills, Best Pills, copies of which are in most libraries and can be purchased at most large bookstores.
Common Symptoms Of Low Hydrochloric Acid
- Bloating or belching, especially after eating
- Burning in the stomach, especially after eating
- Fullness or heaviness in the stomach after eating
- Nausea after eating or taking supplements
- Intestinal gas
- Bad breath
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Food allergies
- Itching around the rectum
- Weak or cracked fingernails
- Dilated blood vessels in the cheeks or nose (in nonalcoholics)
- Skin break-outs or acne
- Iron deficiency
- Chronic intestinal parasites
- Undigested food in the stool
- Chronic Candida infection
Diseases Associated With Low Hydrochloric Acid
- Acne rosacea
- Gallbladder disease
- Autoimmune disorders
- Lupus erythematosus
- Myasthenia gravis
- Pernicious anemia
- Celiac disease
- Sjogren’s Syndrome
The Hcl Program
If HCL supplements are required, the dose needed may sometimes be much more than we would assume. PLEASE USE THIS APPROACH WITH CAUTION. IF YOU ARE UNSURE OF THE PROCEDURE OR UNSURE OF YOUR REACTIONS PLEASE CALL US! PROLONGED INGESTION OF EXCESS HCL CAN CAUSE A GASTRIC ULCER SO USE THIS DATA CAREFULLY!
The goal of this procedure is to bring your stomach acid levels back to normal and in doing such stimulate you own body to produce the stomach acid naturally so that you do not need to be dependent on the pills.
Burning, stomach pain, acid stomach, nauseousness/queasiness, constipation, loose stool, burning stool or rectum, acid reflux can all be symptoms of taking too much HCL. When this occurs you must lower the dose as you have gone past the dose that is correct for you!
NOTE: Apple cider vinegar can be used in combination or as a substitute for HCL pills.
- Take 1 HCL tab per meal.
- If no burning, stomach pain, acid stomach, nauseous ness/queasiness, constipation, loose stool, burning stool or rectum, acid reflux occurs, raise to 2 per meal.
- Continue raising (3, 4, 5, etc. per meal) until burning burning, stomach pain, acid stomach, nauseous ness/queasiness, constipation, loose stool, burning stool or rectum, acid reflux occurs.
- Lower the dose by 1 per meal until no burning, stomach pain, acid stomach, nauseous ness/queasiness, constipation, loose stool, burning stool or rectum, acid reflux occurs. It is not unusual to be taking 5-20 per meal.
- Continue whatever dose you’re on until burning, stomach pain, acid stomach, nauseous ness/queasiness, constipation, loose stool, burning stool or rectum, acid reflux occurs. This is a sign that your stomach is starting to produce acid on its own again.
- Continue lowering your dose by 1 per meal until no acid or burning occurs. Stay on this dose until burning, stomach pain, acid stomach, nauseous ness/queasiness, constipation, loose stool, burning stool or rectum, acid reflux occurs, and again lower by 1 per meal.
- Continue this procedure until you see your nutritionist again.
Betaine hydrochloride is also known as hydrochloric acid (HCl) or stomach acid. It is made by your stomach to digest protein. It also stimulates much of your digestion. Our stomach secretes less HCL as we get older, when we have tired adrenal or thyroid glands and when we are under chronic prolonged stress. If HCL levels in our stomach are too low will we not absorb vitamins, minerals and protein from our foods and supplements. Being tired after meals, rectal itching, belching, acid reflux, bloating, food allergies can all be signs of low stomach acid. HCL naturally kills Candida, parasites and bacteria that try to enter our system.
Adequate levels of HCL are necessary for adequate absorption of protein, calcium,vitamin B12 and iron
Healthy stomach acid is needed for a healthy digestive tract. If you have low stomach acid, even the best food cannot be properly digested. If you are unable to absorb nutrients properly, this can lead to terrible health problems.
Michael Biamonte holds a Doctorate of Nutripathy, and is a New York State certified Clinical Nutritionist. He is a professional member of the International and American Association of Clinical Nutritionists,The American College of Nutrition and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board. He is listed in “The Directory of Distinguished Americans” for his research in Nutrition and Physiology.
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