Health Advice Paula Owens

Over two-thirds of neurotransmitters are made in the gut. The gut is considered the second brain since the majority of serotonin, 90-95 percent, is made in the gut, not the brain. In addition to neurotransmitters, 80 percent of the immune system cells line the gastrointestinal tract, creating a protective, impermeable barrier.

If your gut is inflamed or not functioning optimally, production of serotonin will be impaired and the end result can be depression. Bear in mind that an inflamed gut equals an inflamed brain equals increased risk of depression and dementia. With one in four American women on prescription drugs for stress, anxiety and depression, addressing gut dysfunction should be a priority and cannot be overlooked.

More often than not, people with gut dysfunction have low levels of hydrochloric acid, essential amino acids and nearly all minerals. The two main causes of poor digestion and HCL deficiency are aging and stressful lifestyles. The older we get, the probability of hypochlorhydria or achlorhydria are more common than not. HCL deficiency is very common after age 50. By age 65, a high percentage of individuals are achlorhydric.

Hydrochloric acid (HCL) is essential to protein digestion and the assimilation of B12 and folate plus 15 minerals. Many people with low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) or no stomach acid (achlorhydria) often complain of bloating, belching, a feeling of heaviness in the stomach after eating, or feeling full after eating only a small amount of food. Individuals with low stomach acid may experience constipation, while others have diarrhea. And then, there are those with little or no stomach acid who experience absolutely no symptoms at all.

Insufficient HCL status causes carbohydrates to ferment and protein to putrefy in your body. HCL deficiency inhibits your body to breakdown and use food or your supplements to be absorbed at the cellular level creating an environment of malnourishment. In addition, if you’re not digesting food properly, your risk for Candida and other health conditions increase.

Advertising suggests that heartburn and indigestion are caused by too much stomach acid. This is hardly ever the case. Actually it is just the opposite, not enough stomach acid. It is unfortunate that many doctors fail to recognize how serious a health problem hypochlorhydria and achlorhydria are.

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Paula Owens, M.S., is the author of two books, “The Power of 4” and “Fat Loss Revolution.” She is a nutritionist and fitness expert with more than 25 years of experience, and creator of “21 Days to a Leaner, Healthier You,” an online exercise and fat-loss program. Visit Paula at

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