Stomach Acid and Gut Health
By Michael Biamonte
Proper acid-alkaline balance in the body is the key to great health. When the body is functioning in top form, the digestive tract alternates between an alkaline and an acid pH. Digestion starts in the mouth, which works optimally at an alkaline pH; moves down to the stomach, which requires an acid pH; moves next to the small intestine, which needs an alkaline pH; and ends in the large intestine, which works best with a slightly acid pH.
If any segment fails to maintain 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 intestine, which should be alkaline, to become too acidic.
Low Stomach Acid
As we get older, it’s common for the parietal cells in our stomach lining to produce less and less hydrochloric acid (HCl), making it harder for our bodies to absorb vitamin B12. A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause muscle weakness, fatigue and many nervous system problems.
Healthy stomach acid is required to absorb many minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and copper, as well as most B-complex vitamins. People with low stomach acid typically have low vitamin C levels too.
Low stomach acid can also lead to exhausted adrenal glands. Adequate adrenal function is important, because it stimulates the stomach to produce HCl.
The ‘Acid Stomach’
Low stomach acid can cause indigestion. Believe it or not, too little stomach acid—not too much—is the most common cause of an “acid stomach.”
While some people take antacids to relieve the uncomfortable feeling of an acid stomach (a common result of eating high-protein or high-fat meals), the vast majority of people with that problem are suffering from not enough acid. They simply can’t digest what they’ve eaten. An antacid might relieve a queasy stomach temporarily, but in the long run, regular use of antacids only makes the problem worse.
A healthy level of stomach acid helps kill microbes and parasites routinely found in the foods we eat. These infecting invaders may not be destroyed by a low-acid bath. If the resulting infections aren’t cleared, over time they can cause a variety of symptoms, paving the way for full-blown diseases. That’s why low stomach acid, or hypochlorhydria, is associated with so many common health problems.
The Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” And now, 2,500 years later, we understand why.
Michael Biamonte, CCN, is founder of The Biamonte Center for Clinical Nutrition, located at 2185 34th Ave., Suite 14D, Astoria, NY. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, visit Health-Truth.com. See ad, page xx
For more information or to read the full version of this article, “The Importance of Stomach Acid to the Candida Sufferer,” visit the Articles & Blog page at Health-Truth.com
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
diarrhea or constipation
itching around the rectum
weak or cracked fingernails
dilated blood vessels in the cheeks or nose (in non-alcoholics)
skin break-outs or acne
chronic intestinal parasites
undigested food in the stool
chronic candida infection
Diseases Associated with Low Hydrochloric Acid