Hydrochloric acid (HCL) plays an important role in digestion. You need HCL to activate enzymes that breakdown protein. HCL is also required for proper pH levels, bacterial balance, a healthy microbiome, and the absorption of B12, folate and many other important nutrients.
HCL is our body’s first line of defense against disease-causing microbes protecting the body from pathogens and reducing risk of infections.
HCL deficiency inhibits breakdown and digestion of the food you eat, thereby causing malnourishment and petrification of proteins. This causes numerous problems including inflammation, Candida, yeast, parasite and UTI infections, bacterial overgrowth, malabsorption, intestinal permeability and many other health problems.
Many people with low stomach acid, hypochlorhydria or no stomach acid, achlorhydria often complain of bloating, belching, heartburn, indigestion, a feeling of heaviness in the stomach after eating or feeling full after eating only a small amount of food. Then, there are those with little or no stomach acid who experience absolutely no symptoms at all.
What causes hypochlorhydria (Low HCL)?
• Poor food choice. The standard American diet (SAD) high in sugar, processed carbs, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, omega-6 fats, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, GMOs, and processed junk food.
• Antibiotic overuse.
• Drinking too much alcohol.
• NSAID use.
• Stressful lifestyles.
• H. pylori infection.
• The normal aging process.
• Hiatal hernia.
• Oral contraceptives.
• Use of antacids and proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs).
• Vegetarian diets.
• Drinking liquids during mealtime, which reduces your natural production of HCL.
• Zinc and thiamine deficiency.
• Gastric bypass surgery.
• Eating too much too quickly.
The older we get, the probability of hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid) or achlorhydria (no stomach acid) becomes more common than not. HCL deficiency is very common after age 50 and by age 65 many individuals are achlorhydric.
Advertising suggests that heartburn and indigestion are caused by TOO much stomach acid. This is seldom, if ever the case. Actually it’s just the opposite, not enough stomach acid. It is unfortunate that many medical professionals fail to recognize how serious a health problem hypochlorhydria and achlorhydria are.
OTC antacids, proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) and commonly prescribed drugs for heartburn are associated with gut infections, dysbiosis, C. difficile, vitamin B12, magnesium, calcium and vitamin D deficiencies, osteoporosis, increased risk of pneumonia, cognitive dysfunction and AN INCREASED RISK OF HEART ATTACK!
PPIs and antacid use set the stage for later degenerative diseases by interfering with digestion and absorption of protein, vitamins and minerals. These drugs neutralize stomach acid, reduce or block stomach acid production, cause nutrient deficiencies, bacterial imbalances and disrupt microbial diversity, which increases risk for opportunistic infections, numerous vitamin deficiencies and bone fractures — exactly what you don’t want.
Many commercial antacids contain toxic ingredients such as aluminum, artificial colors and sweeteners. These chemicals disrupt digestion and alter the structure and function of the stomach lining cells causing side effects like headache, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Common symptoms associated with hypochlorhydria
• Indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux.
• Gas, bloating or belching shortly after meals.
• Intestinal permeability (leaky gut).
• Hair loss.
• Weak, soft, brittle fingernails.
• Bad breath.
• Multiple food sensitivities.
• Hives, acne, dry skin.
• Loss of taste for meat.
• No appetite for breakfast.
• Excessive fullness after meals.
• Nauseous after taking vitamins.
• Undigested food in stool.
• History of taking acid-blocking drugs.
• Stressful lifestyles.
• Zinc, iron, thiamine, B12 and other nutrient deficiencies.
Conditions linked to hypochlorhydria
• Depression and anxiety.
• Adrenal dysfunction.
• Thyroid dysfunction.
• Chronic headaches.
• Autoimmune disease.
• Rheumatoid arthritis.
• Gallbladder disease.
• Chronic hives.
• H. pylori, Candida, intestinal parasites, SIBO, UTIs, and bacterial infections.
Natural remedies for hypochlorhydria
• Supplemental Betaine HCL with pepsin. Hydrochloric acid supplementation is often fundamental to breaking this cycle of chronic digestive insufficiency.
• Digestive enzymes and probiotics.
• Take one to two teaspoons of raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar mixed with a small amount of water before meals.
• Chew food thoroughly and avoid drinking liquids with meals.
• Paula Owens, M.S., is the author of “The Power of 4” and “Fat Loss Revolution.” An Ahwatukee resident for 22 years, she is a leading expert in nutrition, functional health, fitness and fat loss with more than 20 years of experience. For more information, visit www.PaulaOwens.com.