Indigestion, Acid Stomach: Guts or Glory?

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While most people with indigestion and acid stomach, in their attempts to stop the burning, try to neutralize the acid, they are ‘turning up the burning’ instead!

It’s basic logic, right? Thinking back to high school Chemistry class we think of the one morsel of data we retained: acids and bases neutralize when mixed. So if one feels what seem to be the effects of acid, the logical solution is to cancel it out. Isn’t that why they bring out the blue cheese dressing with your buffalo wings?

While the blue cheese does neutralize the acid in the hot sauce and lower the burn in your mouth, the stomach poses a different – and opposit – scenario. What one feels during an episode of acid stomach is not a phenomenon of having eaten too much acid. It’s is of having too little. For the very process of digestion relies on a certain acidity level to process food. When this is not achieved, even if it is just shy, irritation and burning starts to occur as a result of slower or diminished digestion. In other words, the stomach needs more acid.

An acid, not an antacid is required.

The most common thing prescribed and taken for heartburn is antacids. The irony is that the condition itself is caused by a decrease in the acidity (pH level) within the stomach. So, while antacids or alkalizing agents, such as baking soda, may help to handle immediate symptoms, the problem itself is exacerbated.

In the words of nutritionist, Adelle Davis, in her book Let’s Get Well, “Taking antacid tablets and alkalizers or baking soda neutralizes the valuable stomach acid, interferes with digestion, decreases mineral absorption, causes vitamins to be destroyed, and can even harm the kidneys; thus temporary relief may cause permanent damage.” Food for thought at least.

How much acid separates digestion from indigestion?

According to Guyton’s Physiology, 7th edition, ”

“Pepsin, the important peptic enzyme of the stomach, is the most active at a pH of 2 or 3 (extremely acid) and is completely inactive at a pH above approximately 5 (an antacid can easily raise pH to 6 or higher). Consequently, for this enzyme to cause any digestive action on protein, the stomach juices must be acidic …. HCL is secreted by the parietal (oxyntic or relating to the wall of the body or of a body cavity or hollow structure) cells at a pH of about 0.8 but, by the time it is mixed with the stomach contents and with the secretions from the non-oxyntic glandular cells of the stomach, the pH ranges around 2 to 3, a highly favorable range of acidity for pepsin activity.

“Pepsin is capable of digesting essentially all the different types of proteins in the diet. One of the important features of pepsin digestion is its ability to digest collagen, an albuminoid (any of a class of simple proteins, as keratin, gelatin, or collagen, that are insoluble in all neutral solvents) that is affected little by other digestive enzymes. Collagen is a major constituent of the intercellular connective tissue of meats, and for the digestive enzymes of the digestive tract to penetrate meats and digest the cellular proteins, it is first necessary that the collagen fibres be digested. Consequently, in persons lacking peptic activity in the stomach, the ingested meats are less well penetrated by the digestive enzymes and therefore, may be poorly digested.”

Guyton also warns of pernicious anemia (potentially fatal form of anemia) from a stomach chronically low in HCL (hypo or achlorhydria – an absence of hydrochloric acid in the gastric secretions).

In summary, heartburn, acid reflux, GERD – or whatever name you wish to give it – is caused by too LITTLE acid, NOT too much.

My personal solution to heartburn and indigestion.

I keep a bottle of Betaine HCL on my nightstand. I find that whenever I eat red meat late in the evening, I usually don’t have enough acid to break it down, which causes discomfort and wakes me up. Therefore I keep it within reach, pop a couple and, literally within ten minutes, all discomfort is gone and I’m back to sleep. I don’t have a problem with this generally but some people have it far worse. I suggest you see a holistic practitioner who is not fixed into the antacid model, barring any long term recovery and potentially worsening the problem.

Yes, calcium and magnesium are involved.

These two minerals are alkaline and the body needs alkalizing factors. If you just take calcium tablets on their own and you’re low on acid, that calcium is just going to deposit somewhere in the body like the joints, kidneys, eyes, arteries, etc AND reduce the acid in your stomach even more.  So, when consuming these two minerals, it is vital that they have an acid to bring the pH into the correct range so the body can absorb and utilize them.

That’s why we make our Instant CalMag-C with both calcium (gluconate) and magnesium (carbonate) in the correct proportions PLUS vitamin C for the acid. In this way the pH is adjusted so the body can actually absorb them properly and not be deposited where they don’t belong.

Here’s to the end of the “burn”.

I suggest you visit this site to get more information on how to handle it correctly: http://scdlifestyle.com/2013/10/4-common-betaine-hcl-mistakes/.

It is important to see a holistic doctor who knows his stuff if yours is inclined to just pull out the prescription pad and dish out the antacids. Question him/her about it. After all, it’s your health!

DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this article or e-mail is meant to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure any medical condition. This information is not a substitution for medical care provided by a licensed medical doctor. It is solely for educational purposes.