What is Acid Indigestion & or GERD and its Causes?
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Suggestions on How To Rebalance the Stomach Acid pH and Body Chemistry
The Problem, Weak Stomach Acids
Most Medical doctors believe the hype of marketing companies which promote the notion that an acidic stomach is something that needs to be managed with pharmaceutical medicines. This creates a condition known as achlorhydria (low stomach acid) and goes complete opposite to their training in biochemistry.
Discomfort 0-2 Hours after Eating
The health transit time out of the stomach is about 2 hours. With that concept in mind if you experience any of the following symptoms you might not be breaking down your food properly:
- Intolerance To Certain Foods (Get Gassy When Eating Certain Foods)
- Food Allergies
- Unable To Take Supplements Without Digestive Upset
- Frequent Belching,
- Feeling Full And Feeling Like The Food Just Isn’t Moving Along After Eating
- Frequently Taking Antacid Drugs
Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Deficiencies in the Production of Stomach Acids creating a weak pH
Some people actually have a condition known as achlorhydria, in which a person produces low or no stomach acid. Low stomach acid levels can be genetic or acquired. Food components that should be digested and absorbed in the upper intestines, when not processed properly; pass through into the lower intestines providing fuel for harmful micro-organisms, therefore increasing the numbers. Low stomach acid causes gastrointestinal overgrowth of pathogens, malabsorption of minerals, vitamins and amino acids, and food sensitivities. Most alternative practitioners believe that this condition is relatively common, particularly in people who demonstrate:
- Acne Rosacea
- Addison’s Disease
- Gum Inflammation And Receding Gums (Periodontitis)
- (Both Rheumatoid Arthritis And Osteoarthritis)
- Increased Risk Of Heart Attack
- Intolerance To Certain Foods
- Brittle Nails
- Lupus Erythematosus
- Celiac Disease
- Pernicious Anemia
- (Too Little Vitamin B12)
- Thyroid Disease
- Tic Douloureux,
- Fingernails Crack Easily
- Vitiligo (a disorder that causes depigmentation of patches of skin)
- Pylori Infection (Ulcer)
Other Symptoms and Causes of Weak Stomach Acids
The effectiveness of drugs which suppress stomach acid is creating an epidemic of malabsorption of nutrients, increasing the need to use vitamin and mineral supplements, and encouraging the use of antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial drugs. This epidemic can be stopped by allowing the body’s pH to be corrected through proper supplementation.
Potentially harmful micro-organisms present on food are sterilized by our stomach’s pH. Thus reducing our risk of being colonized by harmful micro-organism we all experience daily. Proper pH in the stomach helps leach minerals from the food we ingest, such examples being calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
How the Stomach works
The rhythmical contraction of the intestines, that crush and move food through the GI track, called peristalsis, is triggered by the stomach acid.
The closing pyloric sphincter—the valve which holds stomach contents until they are ready to flow down to the intestines—is initiated by the stomach acid. The pyloric sphincter works in exactly the opposite way as the Lower esophageal sphincter. This is your bodies’ way of ensuring that food is properly digested before it flows through the rest of the gastrointestinal system. Studies support what we have long suspected– as we age our bodies produce less stomach acid compared to when we were young. However ,we have seen clients as young as 5 who have needed Betaine Hydrochloride to correct their dietary deficiencies. Therefore, age is not the biggest indicator. We should look at the symptoms, not the age of the person.
The Roles of Proper Stomach pH
Potentially harmful micro-organisms present on food are sterilized by our stomach’s pH. Thus reducing our risk of being colonized by harmful micro-organism we all ingest daily.
Proper pH in the stomach helps leach minerals from the food we ingest, such examples being calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
Stomach acid lowers the pH, allowing the enzyme pepsin to start breaking down protein molecules and also activates that same enzyme (pepsin) which is required for protein digestion.
How Does The Acid Get Into The Stomach?
Hydrochloric acid is secreted by special cells in the stomach wall. There is always some amount of acid being produced, but acid pumps really produce when food enters the stomach. Hydrochloric acid prepares food for digestion, especially proteins.
Hydrochloric acid activates pepsinogen into the enzyme pepsin. Normally proteins exist in a tightly coiled globular structure; acids denature dietary protein which then results in the protein unraveling into a more linear structure. This then allows enzymes access to the peptide bonds so the protein can be broken down later after the food is in the small intestine.
The resulting highly acidic environment in the stomach lumen causes proteins from food to lose their characteristic folded structure (or denature). This exposes the protein’s peptide bonds. The chief cells of the stomach secrete enzymes for protein breakdown (inactive pepsinogen and rennin). Hydrochloric acid activates pepsinogen into the enzyme pepsin, which then helps digestion by breaking the bonds linking amino acids, a process known as proteolysis. In addition, many microorganisms have their growth inhibited by such an acidic environment, which is helpful to prevent infection.
Hydrochloric acid prepares pepsin and bile activity. Above pH of 4.0, stomach enzymes and bile acids are inactive. Once stomach acid lowers pH to less than 4.0, pepsin and bile acids becomes active. This is why those on acid reflux medications often get sicker over time. In the beginning, symptoms of reflux lessen but their overall health and digestion becomes less than optimal, and some patients will start to exhibit a disease state.
In The duodenum / Small Intestine the pH is increased above 4 this allows the pancreatic enzymes e.g Trypsin and chymotrypsin to continue to digest the protein structure, breaking down the nutrients into absorbed matter.
Possible Remedies for Correction and rebalance of pH levels of 2.5 or lower creating a strong acid environment in the stomach
The purpose of supplementing with Betaine Hydrochloride is to reverse your body’s deficiency in hydrochloric acid. When one has hypochlorhydria/ low stomach pH, the following can be expected:
- B-Vitamin deficiencies
- Intestinal parasites
- Poor protein digestion
- Mineral deficiencies
- Poor overall digestion
Function of Pepsin
The enzyme pepsin is secreted in inactive form called pepsinogen. Proper functioning pepsinogen is formed into pepsin, when the pH is correct in the stomach. The ideal pH of the stomach is between 1.5 -3.5 this pH corresponds the activation range of the human stomach. Gastric acids are secreted into the stomach commonly known as Hydrochloric acid but this is just one the types of acids. Gastric acids typical pH of 1 to 2 and is composed of hydrochloric acid (HCl) around 0.5%, and large quantities of potassium chloride (KCl) and sodium chloride (NaCl).
The pH of the stomach environment is generally around 1.5 to 3.5, which as mentioned, is necessary for the activation and optimal activity of pepsin.
Human Digestive Substances
The human digestive system contains copious enzymes to help digest our food and fight disease:
The enzymes that are secreted in the stomach are called gastric enzymes. The stomach plays a critical role in digestion, by mechanical means and enzymatically means.
Pepsin the protein digesting stomach enzymes does not harm the lining of the stomach. The stomach is not affected by pepsin because pepsin acts only on proteins mostly effectively on collagen, found in animal tissues such as. fish, chicken, beef ect., The stomach is covered with mucus a substance made from Glycoproteins
One of the most important substances found in stomach extract is the Intrinsic factor (IF), also known as the gastric intrinsic factor (GIF). The Intrinsic factor is a glycoprotein produced by the parietal cells of the stomach. It is necessary for the absorption and the protection of vitamin B12 while being transported through the stomach acid.
Stomach Extract Researched
The use of preparations of hog’s stomach is a direct consequence of the finding of Castle  and his co-workers [1930; 1931; 1932] that normal human gastric juice, after incubation in vitro with the proteins of beef muscle, was able to induce remissions in cases of pernicious anaemia.
These experiments led one of us [Wilkinson, 1930] to consider the use of stomach tissue itself as a source of the active anti-anaemic principle. It was found that responses could be obtained with hog’s stomach but not with the stomachs of the ox or sheep.
The superiority of the hog’s stomach treatment over the older liver therapy is manifested not only by the quickness with which normal health is reached but also by the greater speed of remission of the disease as measured by the increase in the number of red blood cells and in the percentage of haemoglobin [cf. Wilkinson, 1930; 1931].
Desiccated hog’s stomach powder is a light, sparingly soluble biscuit-coloured powder, 1 g. of which is equivalent haemopoietically to approximately 4-5 g. of fresh whole hog’s stomach. It has strong peptic activity and is active in the treatment of pernicious anaemia, the effective daily dose being 10-30 g. In the course of this work we have frequently had to use much larger amounts. Investigations on (The Nature of Haemopoietin, The Anti-Anaemic Substance In Hog’s Stomach. Louis Klein And John Frederick Wilkinson. February 15th, 1933.)
The following disorders are from a deficiency of Intrinsic Factor:
- Developmental Delay
- Reduced Appetite
- Shortness Of Breath
- Tingling Sensation
- Vitamin B12 Deficiency
- Pale Skin
- Walking Difficulty Pernicious Anemia
Achlorhydria (low stomach acid ) is a cardinal feature of Pernicious anemia (also known as Biermer’s anemia, Addison’s anemia, or Addison–Biermer anemia) and is one of many types of the larger family of megaloblastic anemias. It is caused by loss of gastric parietal cells which are responsible, in part, for the secretion of intrinsic factor, a protein essential for subsequent absorption of vitamin B12 in the ileum. It is conceivable that the impairment of gastric acid secretion in both these conditions may be based on immunological mechanisms. (Tudhope and Wilson, 1962). British Medical Journal page 454 AUG. 18, 1962
Achlorhydria is an autoimmune disease of the parietal cells (acid producing / Intrinsic factor). [In achlorhydria] [t]he damaged parietal cells are unable to produce the required amount of gastric acid. This leads to an increase in gastric pH, impaired digestion of food and increased risk of gastroenteritis.
In achlorhydria the excess of mucus is a poor substitute for gastric juice, and the nonsequent [consequent] loss of the second line of defense lead to irritation of the small intestine, so that dudenitis and enteritis develop in addition to the gastritis. The mechanical and chemical irritation of the intestines explains why chronic and recurrent diarrhea is often caused by low stomach acid, although in the majority of patients with achlorhydria and the bowels are irregular.
Swallowed bacterial flourish in the alkaline contents of the stomach, and may invade the mucous membrane, producing infective gastritis, this may ultimately lead to atrophy of mucous membrane. The bacteria pass into the duodenum, which is normally sterile, but now swarms with bacteria, Knott (1927) has shown that the increased alkalinity of the intestinal contents allows bacteria which are normally confined to the colon to ascend the small intestine and as far as the duodenum and stomach, both of which contain colon bacilli from the large intestine even more frequently the streptococci from the mouth.
Chronic Cholecystitis is generally a result of an ascending B. coli infection of the gall-bladder. This is especially likely to occur in the presence of achlorhydria (Hurst, 1932). This explains why free hydrochloric acid is absent from the stomach in about 50 per cent of patients with gall-stones (Bonar, 1922).
Achlorhydria is also a very important predisposing cause of intestinal infections, such as typhoid and paratyphoid fever, bacillary and amoebic dysentery, and cholera. These organisms which are rapidly destroyed by the normal gastric juice and its presence are therefore a constant source of danger to residents in tropical countries (Camps). The Toxemia which follows the intestinal infection resulting from achlordydria is one factor in about 25 per cent of cases of rheumatoid-arthrits (Hurst, 1925; Miller and Smith 1927) and in some cases of asthma, skin diseases, and other conditions associated with allergy, especially in children (Bray 1931) .
Research is indicating this to be one of the main Causes of Stomach Cancer
Achlorhydria is present in about 65 per cent of patients with carcinoma of the stomach. It was formerly believed that the achlorhydria was a result of the carcinoma, but Hurst in 1934 brought forward evidence to show that the achlorhydria is really caused by chronic gastritis which is present before the growth develops– the growth being a result of malignant degeneration of the chronically inflamed mucous membrane. All the evidence he has been able to collect since then confirms this theory. He stated that he knew of no case in which free acid was found when a growth was first recognized and disappeared at a later date. The hyperchlorhydria remained unaltered in three patients with chronic ulcers which subsequently underwent malignant degeneration. In another case of ulcer-cancer, in which operation was refused, the acidity actually rose whilst the carcinoma was growing, presumably owing to the favorable effect on the gastritis of the diet and lavage [the irrigation or washing out of an organ] which kept the patient comparatively free from pain. A similar rise was observed by Polland and Bloomfield (1931) in two cases of carcinoma after an interval of four and six months respectively. On the other hand, Hurst had four patients in whom achlorhydria was known to be present before the carcinoma developed, and I have found records of at least nineteen similar cases. British Medical Journal London: Saturday, October 13th, 1934 The Clinical Importance Of Achlorhydria By Arthur F. Hurst, M.A., M.D. Oxon., F.R.C.P. Senior Physician To Gcuy’s Hospital associated.
Good nutrition starts when we decide to consume nutritious food, but the story does not end there– that’s just the beginning. The key to health is good nutrition and good absorption from a balanced diet.
When the diet is lacking, disease stressors occur. Without correction, this eventually leads to a diseased body. A nutritionally depressed diet can lead to numerous diseases. Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer- just to list a few diseases- can all be traced to nutritional deficiencies.
Armed with this knowledge, an increasing number of people are taking a proactive approach to their health by eating wholefoods, choosing organic grown or raised, and selecting healthy oils/fats. Proper nutrition is leading to happy, healthier longevity in the population as a whole.