The Importance of HCL In Your Diet

The Importance of Hydrolchloric Acid

Is your body getting all of the nutrients that it needs to function? The answer could be, “No.” Eating healthy is important but if your digestive system isn’t breaking down the food and allowing your body to absorb the nutrients, you may not feel the difference. Hypochlorhydria is a condition where the body does not produce enough stomach acid. Your stomach uses acid to help break down food and chemically alter it so your body can absorb the nutrients. Here are some of the ways that low stomach acid can affect you:

  • Poor digestion of the food you eat means your basic energy needs are not being met.
  • Low stomach acid prevents adequate absorption of essential minerals such as zinc, manganese and calcium because they cannot be ionized for proper absorption.
  • Stomach acid influences the pancreas and the gall bladder which will not function properly if you have low stomach acid.
  • Your body could be passing on undigested food into the intestine where it will putrefy or ferment. This can potentially cause food sensitivities as large, inadequately digested food particles are absorbed and possibly rejected by your immune system.
  • Low stomach acid could put you at risk of food poisoning since you are missing your primary defense against bacterial organisms.
  • Risk of infection from pathogenic bacteria, yeasts and parasites that enter the body via food, which are normally killed by stomach acid.
  • Some drugs that inhibit stomach acid, such as Prilosec and Tagamet, can cause an increase in stomach bacteria and inflammation.

Hypochlorhydria can occur at any age but older individuals are especially affected. Some estimates suggest that half of individuals over age 65 have inadequate stomach acid levels.  2_15-sibo

Undiagnosed low stomach acid is linked to various neurological disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s because those ailments are linked to your folic acid and B12 status (no stomach acid means no folic acid and poor B12 absorption.) In effect, you could go senile just from low stomach acid.

Symptoms of low stomach acid:

  • Belching or gas within 1 hr of a meal
  • Bloating / fullness shortly after eating
  • Loss of taste for meat
  • Nausea after taking supplements
  • Brittle fingernails
  • Undigested food in stool
  • Foul-smelling stools
  • Stomach pain
  • Desire to skip meals
  • Estrogen buildup
  • Acne
  • Depression/fatigue

The Growing Epidemic of Low HCl

I have taken numerous functional medicine seminars from digestion experts such as Dr. Jeffry Bland and Dr. Datis Kharrazian, and I have learned the importance of monitoring stomach acid levels. In the U.S. alone, many experts estimate HCL deficiency to be 40 to 50 percent. Some gastroenterologists are saying that it is today’s most under-diagnosed ailment. I have done stomach acid challenge tests routinely with my patients for over 11 years and I have seen very few individuals over the age of 40 with normal stomach acid levels.

Possible reasons for low stomach acid:

  • B vitamin deficiency
  • Excess carbohydrate consumption
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Food sensitivities
  • Pylori infection
  • Soda consumption
  • Aging

The most common cause of low stomach acid is usually stress. Stress experts estimate that we now have 100 times more stress than our grandparents did.

How to test for low HCl:

  • From your blood chemistry tests
  • Presence of a zinc deficiency; an insufficient amount of this mineral is associated with Hypochlorhydria.
  • Presence of vertical ridges on your nails
  • Stool testing

Come into our office to find out how we can get you tested properly for low HCL.  There are “at-home” tests that Dr. Green can supervise. Call our office for more information:  704-987-3993.

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