Tummy Problems, Part Two
In addition to enzymes, your stomach also makes hydrochloric acid, or HCl, for breaking down protein. Americans start to have deficiencies of HCl at an average age of thirty-five to forty-five. This condition is known as hypochlorhydria, and it affects half of the people over age fifty. Lack of HCl leads to many problems such as: constipation, flatulence, and cramps. Today, even teenagers are showing a deficiency of this important nutrient. Why? Again, blame it on processed foods.
HCl is important because it’s vital for the digestion of proteins. Proper secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach aids in the activation of other important enzymes, such as pepsin, and it also enhances the absorbability and uptake of many minerals. Also, HCl stimulates the gallbladder to secrete bile needed for fat metabolism. When bile secretion is insufficient due to lack of HCl, proper fat metabolism is impaired. So having enough of this good acid is vital. Let’s look at symptoms of this deficiency:
Symptoms of HCl Deficiency[column col=”1/2″]
· Bad breath
· Feeling full after eating
· Belching or nausea
· Weak, cracked, fingernails
· Skin problems such as eczema[/column] [column col=”1/2″ last=”true”] · Bloating and gas
· Passage of undigested food
· Coated tongue
· Chronic yeast infections
[/column] Additionally, there are many ways that HCl helps keep us healthy.
HCl Helps:[column col=”1/2″] · Maintain youthful vibrant body
· Regulate calcium metabolism
· Regulate menstruation for women
· Improve digestion and assimilation
[/column] [column col=”1/2″ last=”true”] · Fight germs and bacteria
· Maintain healthy skin
· Normalize the urine
Americans spend two billion dollars a year on antacids! Full-page advertisements for people with heartburn report that more than two hundred and thirty-seven million prescriptions have been written for Tagamet.
Antacids are called the “most prescribed medication of its kind” boasting of 550 million consumers. That adds up to an incredible number of people with sour stomachs!
Since most people don’t know how their body really works, and they are taught to stop the symptom instead of getting to the cause, they watch an ad on TV, and buy an antacid or worse, acid-blocking medications. Their symptoms stop. They feel fine. Problem solved. Or is it? What really happened here?
These drugs alleviate symptoms by neutralizing or blocking the body’s production of stomach acid. But not having enough HCl is linked to the passage of undigested food! So now, partially digested food is forced through the digestive tract. This is the beginning of problems such as allergies. We are bypassing an important mechanism that was designed to keep us well! Until you stop using the acid-stopping medication (with your doctor’s assistance), you won’t get better. You will become more nutritionally deficient and your symptoms will only become worse.
So Tagamet, or any antacid, is not the answer to the problem because it never gets to the root cause. Unfortunately, commercial antacids in wafers, powders, or bicarbonate of soda actually decrease the supply of HCl and add to digestive trouble! Long-term overuse of antacids is one of the reasons why many people suffer from ulcers. But poor digestion is not a Tagamet deficiency.
Let’s Compare HCl to Most Antacids
*HCl helps your body break down minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. It also helps break down B12 and iron. Calcium deficiency, and B12 and iron deficiency anemias are often caused by lack of HCl. Antacids deal with the symptoms of poor digestion, however, they don’t assist in digestion. So the nutrients from your foods, which depend on HCl, are poorly absorbed.
*HCl is also required to break down protein. If you don’t have enough HCl, undigested particles of protein pass through the digestive tract. This causes, at least, protein deficiency and at worse, could be the beginning of allergies. Antacids don’t contain HCl, so all digestion is compromised.
*HCl destroys harmful bacteria and parasites. Antacids are a cause of malabsorption and yeast overgrowth.
Too Much or Too Little?
Without enough HCl, a protein meal not well-digested stays in the stomach. Chemical reactions produce an acid that causes heartburn and bloating. So you take Tums or some other antacid. However, this “acid indigestion” may be caused by not enough HCl! Both insufficient and excess HCl produce the same symptoms. How can you tell the difference? Take an enzyme product with “betaine hydrochloride, pancreatin, and pepsin.” If your symptoms improve, you have low HCl, and Zypan would help you. If they worsen, you need a good enzyme without HCl to rebalance your stomach acid.
Great Enzymes That Restore Stomach Health
A great example of an enzyme with HCl that I’ve personally used and recommended in my practice for more than 17 years is Zypan made by Standard Process and sold only through health professionals such as myself. Zypan supports the healthy digestion and absorption of proteins. It also contains enzymes that help digest fats and carbohydrates. The HCl in Zypan further aids in protein digestion. Zypan may also protect the GI tract from harmful microorganisms.
A good example of an enzyme without HCl is Multi-zyme, or Gastrex if you have acid reflux, both sold by Standard Process.
Natural Health Drinks Restore HCl
There are some simple, inexpensive ways in which HCl can be added to your digestive system. Putting the juice of one half of a lemon in your water is one way. The second is a common folk remedy for getting hydrochloric acid by mixing 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in an eight-ounce glass of water and drink upon arising. You could sweeten with stevia or natural, raw honey if desired.
Not all vinegar is the same. Purchase natural, raw, undistilled apple cider vinegar from a health food store. It’s naturally fermented and fully aged in wooden barrels. Look for fully-ripened vinegars that have sediment floating in the bottom. Our grandmothers called this the “mother.” It’s the sign that it is truly fermented. Locate a natural source; otherwise, you’re wasting your good money.
Standard Process Resale Policy
Standard Process products are only sold through health professionals. For information on products, please contact me from my website. For Standard Process resale policy, click here.
Join me next week for part three as we look at the causes of constipation.
Adapted from the book, Why Can’t I Lose Weight? By Lorrie Medford Copyright 2011 All rights reserved.
To order Lorrie’s book, Why Can’t I Lose Weight?, click here.