Why hydrochloric acid (HCl) is crucial and how it affects the language your body speaks.
I really wanted to work out today, I have deadlines to meet, emails to
answer and it is 2pm and I haven't eaten yet. Stress, lack of exercise,
bad dietary habits and just feeling like you are being pulled in too
many directions can cause a downward spiral of gastrointestinal (GI)
health challenges. Your gut feels like it is in knots, maybe you have
heartburn or indigestion, and fluctuate day to day with constipation or
I really wanted to work out today, I have deadlines to meet, emails
to answer and it is 2pm and I haven't eaten yet. Stress, lack of
exercise, bad dietary habits and just feeling like you are being
pulled in too many directions can cause a downward spiral of
gastrointestinal (GI) health challenges. Your gut feels like it is
in knots, maybe you have heartburn or indigestion, and fluctuate day
to day with constipation or diarrhea.
Harmony and Balance
Everything our gut encounters outside or inside our body is being
interpreted by our microbiome, our most abundant storehouse of genetic
material. How we nurture our body inside and
out will drive the response of the unique
genetic material of our microbiome.Some of the fields of study examining these cleverly
orchestrated events are epigenetics and nutrigenomics, and hydrochloric
acid (HCl) is a major instrument conducting many reactions throughout the
body and influencing your
Hypochlorhydria (absent or low HCl) is prevalent
in gastroesophageal disorder (GERD), and in 2013 18% - 27% adults suffer
with GERD. In the U.S. 60 to 70 million people are affected
by GI diseases, and
gastric disorders account for 72
million ambulatory care visits, 4.6 million hospitalizations, and
236,000 deaths. Highest occurrence of colorectal cancer in the
world—Connecticut, and in 2004 an estimated $142 billion per year was spent
on gastric disorders in the
U.S., and the number of cases and costs associated
with gastric disorders have steadily increased since 2004.
Negating HCl by chronically using antacids like
Tums or Rolaids, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like omeprazole
(Prilosec) and esomeprazole (Nexium) and other PPIs, or H2 blockers like
famotidine (Pepcid) or cimetidine (Tagamet) and other H2
blockers can have damaging
effects on the body. Stress from too much cortisol can also inhibit HCl production.
Hard fact to swallow—much of the world population suffers from
too little HCl.
I thought stomach acid was bad for
Stomach acid produced from undigested food is due
largely to lack of HCl. The undigested contents ferment and cause
pressure to build inside the stomach. HCl is needed to digest food, particularly proteins which contain amino acids—amino
acids are utilized as catalysts
to aid in cellular metabolism and are precursors in the production of
In fact, your gut contains more
neurotransmitters than your brain.
If your gut isn’t happy, your brain
The Good, Bad and Ugly
“Say hello to your little
The human microbiome—75%— is largely
contained in the gastrointestinal tract(GIT) and consists of 30 trillion cells of various
bacterial species. Some of these
bacterial species are commensal (good bacteria) and some are pathogenic
(bad bacteria). The balance between
the good and bad bacteria is at work 24/7 in our body. It becomes ugly
when the bad bacteria start to outnumber and take over the good
bacteria—inflammation, sickness, fever, nausea, vomiting and so
much more arises due to this harmful imbalance in the microbiome.
The human microbiome varies between individuals
due to biochemical individuality, environment, and diet and contains 99% of our DNA—vastly more
unique than our own DNA in our cells. One dose
of antibiotics can imbalance your microbiome up to four years if not
corrected! Steroids like
NSAIDS like aspirin, Ibuprofen, or naproxen can damage the lining of the stomach,
interfere with HCl production and can profoundly affect the
Benefits of HCl
HCl helps absorption of many vitamins and minerals like B12, folic
acid, iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc—improving bone density. HCl activates release of pancreatic
enzymes needed for
signaling the gallbladder to release bile. HCl prompts the sphincters above and below the stomach to open and
close to allow food in
and to push food out. HCl
also provides first-line immunity
bacteria from wreaking havoc
further down in the GI tract. Having the
necessary amount of HCl for digestion and protection can improve the
efficiency of so many reactions and
pathways that occur within in us
even without us realizing it. Now is the time to tune your body to hear when the “music
being played” [by your gut and microbiome]
is off key or music to your
ears—or rather to your gut.
B.I.D. (Breaking It Down—no pun intended)
- HCl is a major player in many reactions that
occur throughout the body
- Hypochlorhydria is absent or low HCl
- Without the right amount of HCl we cannot
breakdown and absorb nutrients
- Gastric disorders affect people
worldwide—the U.S. has the most GI disorders
- The microbiome is affected by levels of
HCl—influences immunity and
- Our microbiome is like our
fingerprints—varies from person to person
- HCl can affect neurotransmitter
production—important for brain cognition
- “If your gut isn’t happy, your
brain isn’t happy”
A.C.T. (Absorb Content Today)
- Consume fermented foods and
drinks—caution if you have candidiasis
- Minimize drinking a lot of fluid with meals—fluids at least 30 minutes after meals
peppermint, digestive enzymes,bitters,
apple cider vinegar (ACV) and Betaine HCl (if no active ulcers) are helpful digestive
- Take a high-quality probiotic—not all
probiotics are helpful, some can make problem worse
- Eat in a relaxed, non-hurried manner
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An imprint of The Rowan & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.
Stacy Nichols, RN, BSN, MSHN, ROHP Stacy Nichols enjoys researching and learning
about nutritional science, epigenetics and nutrigenomics and how to apply
findings in “real-time” physically, mentally and spiritually. She is the owner,
founder and health practitioner at H3U Family Fitness & Nutrition.