Strong acid is needed for digestion |

Strong acid is needed for digestion

Digestive problems, such as indigestion, heartburn and Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD), are common ailments. Digestive disorders tend to affect the very young and the elderly more than any other segments of the population. Poor dietary practices now contribute to digestive disorders in others as well. The common treatment for these problems – over the counter antacids, prescription antacids and even sometimes exploratory surgery – don’t permanently solve the problem.The human body digests food through a complex process that involves acid and digestive enzymes. The body produces a very strong acid – hydrochloric acid – for digestion. A healthy stomach has an acidity level (pH) between 1 and 2, according to Dr. Richard Barrans of the PG Research Foundation. That is a very strong acid, and there is a very good reason for it. In order to absorb nutrients, especially minerals, a strong acid is required to bond them. In a strong acidic base, minerals are bonded to vitamins, amino acids or enzymes thorough a process called “chelation.” This helps to improve absorption of minerals dramatically. Without this process, the body would be able to utilize about 5 percent to 10 percent of most minerals, depending upon our age. With chelation, this can increase to as high as 60 percent to 70 percent. The body also produces various enzymes that break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. As we age, our ability to produce hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes begins to lessen. In the absence of adequate stomach acidity, yeast can sometimes begin to grow in the digestive tract. When we ingest food, particularly carbohydrates, in the presence of yeast, it can create carbon dioxide fermentation, similar to making wine at home – the carbon dioxide causes the balloon on the wine bottle to expand. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the problem is inadequate stomach acidity, not too much. As the carbon dioxide bubbling begins to push up through the esophagus, we get that acid burning because the contents are still on the acidic side, just not acidic enough.In children, it is common for them to experience spitting up, burping, belching or even projectile vomiting – a powerful manifestation of an inability to digest food properly. Production of hydrochloric acid and pancreatic digestive enzymes does not reach full maturity until the age of 2-3. This makes it difficult for them to properly digest food.The best way to solve digestive problems is to supply the digestive tract with adequate digestive enzymes and to reacidify the stomach. Many times, a glass of red wine or some vinegar, both of which are 5 percent acid, are enough to solve light digestive problems. In some cases, a digestive enzyme that includes betaine hydrochloride and pancreatic enzymes is necessary. The dosage will vary according to each person’s need. Suffice it to say that you can take as many as you need before each meal to solve the problem. It is also important to avoid carbonated beverages, since the carbonation can neutralize the stomach acid.Don’t let these problems ruin your quality of life! Health matters!The Post Independent will run a “Health Matters” column once a month. Have a health matters question for R.J.? E-mail all questions to

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