HCl is produced in the stomach and is absolutely essential to proper digestion. Nature designed it to not only kill pathogens like parasites and bacteria but also to break down our food for absorption and assimilation in the body.
The conventional paradigm says that heartburn or GERD is caused by too much HCl. Antacids and acid blocking medications raise the very acidic pH of the gastric juices which relieves the burning sensations associated with heartburn. However, they fix the symptom not the cause.
The underlying dysfunction is actually TOO LITTLE hydrochloric acid. Long term use of these medications can alter the natural gastrointestinal environment and have been linked to higher risks of gastric ulcers, gastric cancers and a whole host of chronic conditions.
So what causes low levels of HCl?
* Excess refined carbohydrates
* Excess alcohol
* Nutrient Deficiencies
Why is heartburn caused by too little HCl?
Because HCl is essential to the breakdown of food, decreased levels will result in incomplete digestion. Food will not be broken down properly and can sit too long in the stomach. This can cause a backward flow into the delicate lining of the esophagus, which unlike the stomach, is not made for HCl and thus the burning sensation known as heartburn or GERD.
This maldigestion can cause problems further south in the digestive process as the small and large intestines are now burdened with undigested food. Inflammation, bloating, constipation, dysbiosis and food allergies can all result but ramifications can go well beyond the digestive system itself.
The Mental Health Connection
If proteins are not broken down properly into amino acids, neurotransmitters are not properly made impacting our mental health. Thus, correcting HCl deficiencies may help with things like depression, learning disabilities, ADD and even autism. Much has been written in recent decades about the gut-brain connection. As Dr. Alan Gaby put it,
“Big Mac (bad food) + Zantac (acid blockers) = Prozac (depression)”
A Natural Solution
Here is where Nutritional Therapy comes in. Step one is to correct poor diet choices such as highly refined carbohydrates, excess sugar consumption, over eating, excess alcohol and hydrogenated fats. Beneficial steps include drinking more water, aloe vera juice, cabbage juice and various herbs and bitters such as ginger and chamomile.
Next is to supplement with HCl during meals. This can greatly aid digestion. Please see a qualified practitioner for dosing instructions. Other supplements may help as well such as digestive enzymes, probiotics, Lglutamine, B vitamins and zinc which are necessary for HCl production and other vitamins that help soothe and heal the gut lining. This simple and natural therapy will help a majority of digestive complaints and may in fact help seemingly unrelated issues as discussed above.
What can you do to improve digestion?
~ Do not drink with meals ! A lot of liquid hinders proper digestion…small sips of WATER only.
~ Chew your food well! Saliva has many enzymes that will begin the digestion process. The smaller the food particles, the less energy is expended by the body for digestion and the MORE energy is left for you.
~ Eat something raw with every meal! Raw foods have many enzymes that assist with digestion. Raw cheese, raw vegetables and naturally fermented foods would be a few good choices.
~ Eat slowly and relax during your meals! Digestion is a parasympathetic process. If you are eating on the run, your body will be unable to properly digest.
So….eat healthy…and be happy! 🙂