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Nature's Sunshine Products
HYDROCHLORIC ACID and DIGESTION
How do you spell “relief?” Many Americans who suffer from “heartburn” answer that question by taking antacids such as Rolaids or Tums. Unfortunately, the ads that encourage us to “put out the fire” with antacids may be dangerously misleading. The problem may really be that not enough stomach acid is being produced and that taking an antacid may make the problem worse.
The pH scale measures how acid or alkaline something is. It reads from zero (completely acid) to 7 (neutral) to 14 (completely alkaline). The scale is logarithmic, so each number is ten times greater than the previous number, so 6 is ten times more acid than 7, 5 would be one hundred times more acid than 7, and so on.
A healthy stomach produces lots of acid, with normal fasting pH between 1 and 2 (one million times more acid than water). We require this degree of acidity to digest our foods properly, to absorb many vitamins and minerals, and to insure proper pancreatic function.
Why do many people get “heartburn?” Often, the problem is too little stomach acid! That may seem like a paradox, but here is the reason, according to scientific researchers.
The stomach has millions of cells that produce a protective mucous coating which keeps the stomach from digesting itself. When food has been properly acidified by the stomach, it passes into the small intestine for further digestion by pancreatic enzymes. If the stomach produces too little acid, food may sit in the stomach too long.
The food sitting in the stomach may reach a pH of 4 or 5 (one hundred thousand times more acid than neutral). Although this is moderately acidic, it is not acid enough to do the job. It is acid enough to burn tissue that is not protected by mucous.
This is exactly what can happen. After churning in the stomach, food regurgitates in the esophagus. The esophagus does not have the protection the stomach has, and can be burned by the partially acidified food. When this happens people often reach for an antacid. This will make them feel better since the acidified food becomes neutralized and stops burning.
This does nothing to help the real problem of too little acid and it may even make the problem worse by neutralizing whatever acid there is. Antacids can have their own side effects as well. It is known they can interfere with the absorption of certain vitamins, and the aluminum some contain may contribute to unhealthy levels of that mineral.
Medical researchers since the 1930's have been concerned with the consequences of too little stomach acid (“hypochlorhydria”). While all the health consequences are still not entirely clear, some have been well documented.
Many minerals require proper stomach acid to be absorbed optimally - examples are magnesium, calcium and zinc. In fact, people with hypochlorhydria (and the older you are the more likely this is to be a problem) may be at risk for developing certain mineral deficiencies. Since minerals are important not only for body structure (bones and teeth), for enzymes (superoxide dismutase), and hormones (insulin), deficiencies can lead to major health problems.
One of stomach acids’ major tasks is to break proteins down to the point that the pancreatic enzymes can easily work. If this doesn’t occur, these proteins might be absorbed in more complicated chains. This malabsorption has been suggested by some researchers to be a major cause of immunological stress and food allergies.
Partially digested protein can provide a feast for the wrong kind of bacteria that lives in the colon. Some of these bacteria produce toxic substances that can be absorbed by our bodes and harm us.
Researchers have discovered that people with certain diseases often have an inability to produce enough stomach acid. This doesn’t mean the diseases were caused by hypochlorhydria, only that there is correlation. Some examples are arthritis (both rheumatoid and osteo), pernicious anemia (i.e. too little vitamin B-12), asthma, diabetes, lupus erythematosus and thyroid disease. When one of these diseases is present, the chances of low acid production is greater.
What symptoms, besides heartburn, might suggest hypochlorhydria? Many with this problem have one or more of the following digestive symptoms: a feeling of fullness or bloating after eating, excessive gas or belching, constipation or diarrhea and cramping. Also people with allergy problems often are low in stomach acid.
If you often ask yourself, “How do I spell ‘relief’?” or if you suffer any of the symptoms listed above, the answer may turn out to be “h-y-d-r-o-c-h-l-o-r-I-c a-c-I-d.”
NATURE’S SUNSHINE PRODUCTS has PDA (supplies all HCI) to help you.
How it Works:
PDA supplements the body’s digestive secretions with hydrochloric acid (HCl) and provides pepsin, a natural protein digesting enzyme. The stomach manufactures hydrochloric acid to break down proteins. But, as people age, they may produce less HCl, which can affect the amount of protein they can break down and ultimately absorb Inefficient protein digestion can affect the viability of the intestinal flora that feast on these compounds.
Betaine hydrochloric acid, pepsin.
Take 1–4 capsules with a meal three times daily.
PDA Combination (180 capsules)