Do you have a feeling of discomfort after meals? Do you feel full, bloated or naseous, feel like the food is not moving? If so, by the end of today’s episode you’ll know why.
Hello friends & welcome back to another episode! Its surely been long since I last posted an episode. Doc Brown was having a hard time getting the DeLorean to work again! Not exactly delighted to be back in 2022 but really happy to back with you guys & gals once again! In today’s episode we’ll be discussing about the much overlooked & underestimated, just like the ant-man in avengers. I’m talking about our body’s underdog ‘The Stomach Acid’! We’ll be starting with a small intro followed by why its so important. Then I’ll be talking about hypochlorhydria, that’s a term used for sub-optimal stomach acid & how it negatively impacts our health & causes all sort of problems & associated symptoms
So, let’s get started! Stomach acid is produced by the cells lining the stomach cavity & contains hydrochloric acid, potassium chloride & sodium chloride. Sodium chloride is what we call salt! Interesting isn’t it. You don’t have to remember any of this, its just for your knowledge which you can show off to your friends. Now, your body utilizes a lot of energy & resources to make stomach acid, so you can imagine how important it might be for the functioning of our physiology. Let’s see why is that so.
As you are aware that stomach acid is very very acidic having pH somewhere in between 0.8 & 3 on the pH scale of 1 to 14, where 0 is extremely acidic & 14 is extremely alkaline & 7 is neutral. Now you might wonder, doesn’t this acid burn a hole in our stomach if it’s so acidic, the short answer is ‘no’ & the reason is a thick layer of mucus membrane that lines the inner cavity of the stomach which prevents it from damaging the stomach lining. So, this very acidic stomach acid protects you from pathogenic microbes & other opportunistic species that may enter through the mouth, like via food especially meats. So its playing a role which can also be counted as being immunological since its defending our body. And since its a strong acid, I’m pretty sure, you’ve already guessed what else it can do. Break down our foods, right! It denatures proteins making it less allergenic, while also cutting the yarn balls like proteins into smaller thread like pieces called amino acids & also separating the minerals bound to it like magnesium, calcium, zinc, selenium, iron. And what are amino acids? They are the building blocks of our body. Imagine pieces pieces of lego & legoland. Every muscle, every tissue & cell is a product of amino acids & its also involved in the formation & function of enzymes in our body that carry out so many tasks, immune function, blood flow, detoxification, repair & regeneration, metabolism, synthesis of hormones & neurotransmitters, transportation of molecules, wow! That’s a lot! What is the LDL & HDL we talk about? They are proteins & they carry out so many endless functions that are crucial for existence & life! So, stomach acid also plays a crucial role in nourishing you, nourishing your body by breaking food down so that it can further obtain all the necessary nutrients it needs from the foods you eat! You must’ve heard a popular saying “You are what you eat” but that’s a highly oversimplified statement! In reality, you are what you eat, digest, absorb, convert to final form & get past the cell membrane & bring together with other co-factor nutrients.
So, imagine if ant-man was never there. The avengers would’ve never been able to recuperate half the earth’s population! What I mean to say is, look how important stomach acid is! And when its not the right pH basically when its not acidic enough the way it is supposed to be or its insufficient, in short when stomach is sub-optimal, when there’s hypochlorhydria, digestion is broken & then it just trickles down into a host of symptoms like heart burn or acid reflux or GERD as they like to call it (gastro intestinal reflux disease), fatigue, hair loss, gastrointestinal infections, bad breath, bloating, burping, farting, basically a bunch of symptoms which if not address will eventually lead to or may I say, contribute to formation of major diseases which can vary from person to person, depending on other factors. As they rightly say, ‘Disease begins in the gut’. Now, in some causes, there can also be a case of complete absence of hydrochloric acid called ‘Achlorhydria’ which is associated with some serious health conditions like chronic gastritis, pernicious anemia, pellagra, etc. There can also be cases of excessive stomach acid called ‘hyperchlorhydria’ but that’s uncommon & altogether another topic, unrelated to what we are speaking about today. More prevalent & common is the problem of sub-optimal stomach acid which majority of us face today.
So, in the case of hypochlorhydria, what are we seeing? Foods, especially proteins are not being broken down efficiently. So what is happening? We are not getting enough minerals & amino acids, so our ability to carry out functions like detoxification, repair, methylation, hormone & neurotransmitter production, immune function, the list is long! All this is going to be negatively impacted & all of this further leads to mitochondrial dysfunction, hypothyroidism, adrenal imbalance. Another major deficiency that occurs is that of vitamin B12 which is crucial for nerve health, methylation, balanced mood, memory retention & much more. This needs to be covered separately. And eventually overtime, you end up feeling tired & start gaining weight even when you might be having all the right foods & then we’re told, oh its normal, its called aging…
What else is happening? Because of proteins not being denatured and broken down efficiently, there’s a high likelihood of developing immune hyper-vigilance & loss of tolerance since our immune system in the gut might inappropriately flag those denatured proteins as a foreign invader. And what does this lead to? Chronic allergy, asthma or perhaps lead to an autoimmune condition or respiratory disease!?
Also, do you know that, when the stomach acid is not acidic enough it will also result in fat malabsorption & even negatively impact insulin response, completely separate from diet! Why? Because the pH level of the bolus of food that leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine (also know as chyme) needs to be acidic, which can only happen when the stomach acid is acidic enough. So, when the chyme with an acidic pH enters the small intestines, our digestive enzymes get activated & bile gets released. And an optimal bile release triggers a secondary insulin response. And imagine if the chyme is not acidic enough due to a weak stomach acid, none of this will happen effectively. So, we’re talking about, fats not being emulsified efficiently hence malabsorption of fats & fat soluble vitamins & all the energy being driven towards packing away these fats & weight gain plus once again, low energy. Plus, insufficient digestive enzymes, impaired gallbladder function & perhaps, insulin resistance beginning in the gut? Oh & since there’s undigested food particles, that’s an open, free buffet for the other microbes that live in the colon. And they migrate right up creating dysbiosis. These microbes secrete metabolites which in the right place & quantities are beneficial but in the wrong place & higher quantities, they have negative health impacts! That’s when we get IBS like symptoms (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). And I can further go on and talk about how all of this imbalance in the gut, goes on & contributes to enhanced intestinal permeability, well know as leaky gut & even immune hyper vigilance! But again, I’m sure, you get it!
Hope that wasn’t too much for you… All this information you don’t need to remember but its for you to understand & know, how & why you get these symptoms. I want to empower you with a basic understanding of how our body functions, so you can make the right decisions & not have a pharmaceutical drug derived false security. All of these are great for controlling & arresting, slowing down disease progression but its not going to be a solution to your problems. We have always been expected to live with the problems & accept their progression & worsening as a part of aging. Its time you know, what they don’t want you to know. Aging can be graceful & old age doesn’t have to be spent in a wheel chair or paying hospital & medical bills that’s in place for someone’s benefit!
We’ll be meeting again tomorrow with the second part of stomach acid, until the, have a nice day or evening!