Good Stomach Acid Prevents Heartburn and Aids Good Health
It’s no mystery to doctors who specialize in nutrition and natural medicine that ‘fixing the gut first’ is the key to many ‘miracle’ cures. The gut is the key entry portal of the body for receiving and processing the vital nutrients that sustain and nurture life. When the stomach and intestinal channels are damaged, health problems of every bodily system may, and most often will, ensue.
The number one most common health symptom worldwide is heartburn, also known as gastro esophageal reflux or GER. A staggering 45% of the US population suffer from GER. To put that into perspective, the leading cause of death in the US, heart disease, is responsible for 25% of deaths and 25% of Americans are diagnosed as having heart disease. While that may be a significant amount in itself, digestive distress affects almost twice as many people. The more chronic form of heartburn, gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) is typically characterized by inability to eat certain foods, difficulty lying down flat and often a reliance on chronic use of medications. While GERD distresses less people than GER, at 23% it still affects a vast portion of the population.
Unfortunately the treatments that we have come to believe to be appropriate and helpful, antacids or acid stopping med’s, are far from curative. In fact they actually make the ailment worse. These typical remedies are specifically marketed for symptom relief and often times they eventually fail at that. Most people start out using antacids, but because they are ineffective at fixing the problem, sufferers then become dependent on various acid stopping drugs. Regardless if the drugs give temporary relief, many are still restricted from enjoying a variety of foods. But that’s not all – more critical consequences come about because digestion is permanently impaired. Eventually it leads to more and more serious problems for one’s health.
In order to reverse this condition and restore the normal health and digestive function of the stomach, a different approach needs to be made. A largely misunderstood fact is that our stomachs are designed for and rely on the production of strong acid. Problems come about when we lose the strength and production of a healthy amount of stomach acid. To put this in perspective, battery acid, considered a very strong acid, has a pH of 1.5 and a healthy stomach should have an acid pH between 1 – 1.5, which is even a bit stronger!
Stomach acid is known to decline for most of us after the age of 50. But the greatest cause of the loss of good stomach acid strength is the glut of processed and unhealthy foods that we over consume. I’ll get into those details at another time. Suffice it to say, whether you are getting on in years or you’re one of the many who are victims of dietary influences, there is an effective means of restoring good gut health.
Doing so is vitally important. Without adequate stomach acid strength, there is a breakdown in the processing and assimilation of essential nutrients, and an interference in normal metabolism and organ function. In essence, dysfunctional digestion has implications on one’s health in many more ways than most people are aware.
Here is a summary of things to know about stomach acid:
- Most indigestion and reflux is caused by too low stomach acid, not too much acid.
- The heartburn pain thought to come from ‘too much acid’ most of the time actually comes from a low-acid stomach that cannot fully digest foods. The undigested foods rot or ferment in the stomach creating fermentation acids that are the real culprits in heartburn, acid indigestion, reflux, etc.
- Low salt diets can lead to low stomach acid as real salt is needed by your body to produce adequate quantities of stomach acid. Millions of Americans are on a low-salt diet (a proven-false medical premise), which interferes with hydrochloric acid (HCL) production, and increases the risk of immune deficiency diseases.
- Antacids taken by elderly individuals can increase the risk of colds, flu’s and pneumonia because your immune system is dependent upon adequate stomach acid.
- Low stomach acid and chronic use of antacids are also responsible for malabsorption syndrome, intestinal damage, leaky gut syndrome, candidiasis, and dysbiosis (abnormal gut flora).
- Taking HCL or products containing HCL (a high quality, inexpensive nutritional we carry in the clinic) is highly effective in restoring normal acid production and digestive function.
- You need to do everything in your power to maintain good stomach acid production which includes a proper dietary balance (I provide a detailed nutritional evaluation to accomplish this), and elimination of many harmful processed foods.
- Before a healing program begins, it’s essential to strive to eliminate antacids, acid blockers and acid stoppers (consult your medical doctor if prescribed). They are grossly overprescribed, they do nothing to correct the underlying cause of most indigestion, and they cause problems and side effects that can destroy your health.
- Everyone who suffers from heartburn, reflux, chronic diarrhea, osteoporosis, immune weakness, chronic infections, chronic fatigue, hormone imbalance, memory or vision problems, and just about any other health problem should suspect low stomach acid and/or antacids as one of the causes.
- With low stomach acid, your maladies and ‘diseases’ may be deemed medically incurable. The truth is if you are relying on the drugs and maintaining a chronically malfunctioning stomach, then in that state your condition is most likely incurable. Without adequate stomach acid your body suffers from nutrient starvation and ultimately chronic disease.
In my practice, I address this issue with patients on a weekly if not daily basis. The patients that I have helped have most likely been taking antacids or the more harmful drugs for years. Typically they were often restricted from being able to eat certain foods and could become miserable if they weren’t careful in their eating habits. But even more serious is that many people who suffer from poor stomach and digestive health, often discover that many other facets of their health and energy are being affected.
The first step I take in resolving digestive problems with a patient is to discuss what the real culprit is and how their specific condition needs to be addressed. I lay out a plan that starts with healing of the stomach while supporting the return of normal stomach enzymes and ultimately healthy stomach acid. However, if my patient has a medical prescription for an acid stopping drug, I provide the facts and lay out the procedures that have proved successful. I then let the patient make the decision and speak to their medical doctor about their options.
Returning the natural acid strength of the stomach provides a sustainable solution to an otherwise unmanageable condition. Once we engage a program to restore gut health, I work with my patients throughout their course of treatment and any dietary modifications that may be involved. The time it takes to restore a healthy gut and the ability to eat more normally will vary among individuals. However, I can usually assure my patients that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. When we reach the point of successfully overcoming years of discomfort and misery, patients are often ecstatic at the change in their life. Best of all are all the smiling and happy patients who have finally gotten relief!