Stomach acid, or HCl and its components, is needed to digest our food. However, most people have very low levels of HCl (even if you have acid reflux or h.pylori, these are actually indicators that your stomach acid is low and compromised in some way) and these low levels are compromising the whole digestive chain from the very start.
If you are currently experiencing digestive distress-digestive pain, constipation, IBS, belching or other digestive conditions-this discomfort that you're currently experiencing, likely initiated from a kink in your ability to produce HCl.
In order to digest, assimilate and absorb our food, we need to start by looking from the top of the digestive tract and work our way down. Often, our intestines produce physical symptoms that something isn't quite right and we tend to focus on the intestines as the problem. However, to really get to the root of why the intestines are feeling not so great, we need to start by looking at everything that happens before our food reaches our intestines.
In my experience, one of the first places where this imbalance begins lies within our body's ability to produce adequate HCl. Most people do not produce enough HCl for many reasons and this significantly compromises many aspects of our digestion and our entire well-being (that stretch far beyond our digestion).
Here are some tips to help you understand HCl's role and relationship to the entire digestive chain including, specific substances that block the production of HCl and how you can begin to work with these with the intent to bring your digestion and body into balance.
Diet and HCl Production
A healthy body produces around 2 liters of HCl per day-most people don't make near that amount today and there are several reasons for this deficiency. One of those being, poor diet. A diet rich in carbohydrates, starches, sugar and processed and packaged foods will significantly compromise your body's ability to make HCl. If these nutrient-deficient practices are followed over months or years, your body will gradually produce less and less stomach acid.
This is a big issue because we need stomach acid in order to digest, break-down, assimilate and absorb our food. Without it, our food cannot ferment properly in the stomach or throughout the digestive tract.
Heathar's Primal Foods Recipe eBook will help you swap empty calories for nutrient dense foods that support well-being of each of our cells, tissues and organs, including HCl production.
The Ph Hoax
There are huge amounts of misinformation being thrown around regarding a low pH diet and how it is beneficial for the body. The body has numerous different pH values throughout-every area has a different pH some very acidic, some neutral and some very alkaline depending on its location, action and cellular duties. The New Age concept that claims a low pH diet is important to regaining health is providing people with a very skewed, inaccurate interpretation of pH, our body and our well-being.
For example, the pH of your stomach needs to be extremely high in order for you to break-down your food and produce stomach acid. If the pH is too low in your stomach, which is the case for many people, you cannot break-down your food. And, when there isn't enough HCl produced, this throws off signaling to the rest of the body.
Exploring a bit further here...when HCl is produced in the stomach, this sends a signal to the pancreas to release digestive juices and enzymes to the small intestine-the amount of HCl produced determines the amount of digestive juices that the pancreas squirts out into the small intestine.
If your body doesn't produce enough HCl, then your pancreas will receive false messages regarding how much digestive juices to release. The domino effect continues...when your food reaches your small intestine, there aren't enough digestive juices to assimilate and absorb your food and the pH of the small intestine will be much too acidic when it needs to be alkaline.
The pH of the small intestine is much, much lower than that of the stomach-its pH fall between neutral to alkaline while the stomach is very acidic. If the pH of the small intestine is too high, your body won't be able to assimilate and absorb food and its nutrients properly-it will end up killing beneficial microbes and beneficial elements contained within the small intestine (where there needs to be a very high population of beneficial bacterial and microbes).
When pH values of specific places in our body are not aligning what they need for biochemical processes to occur, it creates a lot of stress and strain on the body. This is often why many people feel fatigued after eating-even when they eat high vibrational foods (lots of animal fat).
And, when our stomach and intestines don't achieve a pH value to meet their functional needs, it drastically compromises our body's ability to absorb, assimilate and digest food properly. It also depresses immunity and leads to chronic malabsorption issues. This imbalance also keeps the body in fight-or-flight and can significantly put breaks on making strides along one's healing process.
Do you see how low HCl production starts to impact the entire body?
Mercury Fillings and Stomach Acid
There are many environmental toxins that bind to the lining of our stomach thereby preventing our body's ability to produce adequate stomach acid. One of the biggest influences that effects millions of people is exposure to mercury.
Mercury makes its way onto your stomach lining in several ways - the most prominent being from mercury fillings in the mouth. When this happens, mercury is slowly, steadily and constantly being leached from your teeth and mouth into your bloodstream. One of its first stops is the stomach. In return, the cells lining your stomach become saturated wth mercury and cannot produce adequate amounts of HCl.
If you have mercury fillings, it may be well worth exploring having those fillings removed by an expert in the dental field. If mercury isn't removed by a dentist practicing safe metal removal practices, you very likely could end up with more wellness related issues down the road, including autoimmune conditions. To locate a dentist who practices safe mercury and root canal removal practices, visit this link.
If you've already had your mercury fillings removed, that's a great first step towards rectifying this whole stomach acid production issue-way to go! Keep in mind that even if you've had the mercury removed, it's still lining your stomach.
However, this can be rectified and returned to a balance state by implementing specific dietary practices and food-grade supplements into your daily life. I also utilize radionics* to help remove mercury from the stomach lining while simultaneously restoring HCl and digestive juice production in the stomach and pancreas. I have found this holistic, integrative approach to be very supportive of this process.
Intrinsic Factor: What you Need to Know
Your stomach lining is also coated with a substance called intrinsic factor. Intrinsic factor is a fascinating type of protein that is key to metabolism, balanced energy levels and integral mental clarity and well-being. It is crucial for vitamin B12 absorption and assimilation.
When you eat foods containing vitamin B12, your stomach releases HCl and other acidic juices. As this is occurring, your stomach lining also releases intrinsic factor (in the presence of vitamin B12). Intrinsic factor helps vitamin B12 stay alive-otherwise it couldn't survive the highly acidic environment of the stomach.
If your stomach acid levels are too low-or are coated with mercury or other toxic substances-your stomach lining will not produce intrinsic factor and, therefore, vitamin B12 will not be absorbed. This leads to vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is ONLY found in animal products-no matter what vegan and vegetarian authorities say. Non-animal sources of vitamin B12 have a different molecular make-up than animal sourced B12. Non-animal sources of vitamin B12 are not recognized by intrinsic factor-they don't receive the same signals and therefore, intrinsic factor doesn't get released. Vitamin B12 can be very challenging for the body to absorb and this is largely due to our diminished HCl levels and inadequate intake of dietary sources of vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is just as prominent as our culture's current vitamin D epidemic. Vitamin B12 deficiency has huge impacts on your nervous system and anxiety levels; it keeps you in fight-or-flight mode and without adequate vitamin B12 your brain cannot function optimally - it's crucial for healthy, clear and focused brain function.
If you're one of those people who have a really hard time making decisions, goes back-and-forth about things, struggles with chronic anxiety, feel like your in fight-or-flight much of the day and maybe even have insomnia-you may likely be vitamin B12 deficient.
This too can be rectified by improving the quality and well-being of your stomach acid and diet.
Despite if your stomach acid is compromised from mercury fillings, poor diet or stress, it can be improved. I haven't found the solution in a one-stop-shop pill or modality-rather, like all healing in the body, improving stomach acid levels does much better with a holistic, integrative, multi-dimensional approach.
Although, it's key to get to the root of why your stomach acid may be out of balance, it is always a great idea to begin by cleaning-up your diet; swapping carbs, sugars and boxed food for grass-fed fats, grass-fed animal protein and fermented veggies will not only help balance stomach acid levels but will benefit every cell of your body.
If you have mercury fillings, I highly recommend seeking out a dentist who can safely remove these. Once the mercury is removed from your mouth, it's important to follow-up this work with a long-term diet, food-based supplement and radionics (optional, but highly recommended) program.
If you're interested in learning more about Heathar's approach to balancing stomach acid or mercury removal, contact her to learn more.
*The radionics that Heathar practices is a vibrational, energetic type of modality. It is used for experimental purposes only.
Heathar is a primal foods enthusiast and expert. She has studied food and nutrition for over 15 years and continues to do so to this day. When Heathar isn't in the kitchen, she's either writing, hiking or doing her primal energetics thing. If you are interested in discovering how Heathar's nutrition work may benefit you, contact her to schedule a free 45-minute phone consultation. Until then, Eat, Live and Be Primal!