Your doctor can’t figure out what is ailing you. You are plagued by a number of disparate symptoms that don’t appear to be related. Chronic stomach problems (chronic bloating, burping, flatulence, diarrhea, undigested food in stool), fatigue, brain fog, brittle nails, recurrent intestinal infections, allergies, asthma, the appearance of tiny blood vessels on the cheeks and nose, unexplained acne, and nausea when taking vitamin pills may have a common origin.
You may even chronically suffer with skin conditions: psoriasis, vitiligo and eczema. You may lose weight for no reason. You may experience regurgitation of stomach acid into your esophagus that results in painful heartburn. In a misdirection, your doctor may then prescribe an antacid. You may have had your gall bladder surgically removed and you still find no relief from your symptoms. You don’t know whether to eat or skip eating because of all the symptoms you experience.
The lack of stomach acid is often the cause of these symptoms and conditions.
The remedy is simple: supplement your diet with acid when eating.
Indigestion could be caused by low stomach acid, which affects over 50% of the population.
Stomach acid is hydrochloric acid. Impaired stomach acid secretion is called hypochlorhydria (hi-po-klor-hi-dree-a). Absent stomach acid is called achlorhydria. Both conditions are an underlying cause of disease.
According to a report published in the American Journal of Digestive Diseases, the incidence of achlorhydria (absence of stomach acid) was 19% in the fifth decade of life and 69% in the eighth decade of life.
It has been estimated 30% of U.S. men and women older than age 60 have atrophic gastritis, a condition in which little or no acid is secreted by the stomach.
Corrective supplemental acid is required in the form of betaine, available as a dietary supplement. Betaine is safe and has a track record over many decades.
There is considerable attention being given to the makeup of bacteria in the human gut (stomach and intestines). The bacteria that reside in your digestive tract (called microbiota) change when less stomach acid is secreted.
Humans don’t consume totally sterile foods. There is a small bacterial and fungal count in foods. Acid wards off the pathogenic (disease- causing) bacteria that commonly enter the digestive tract. However, unless an acid environment is maintained in the digestive tract, bacteria and yeast (fungi) normally found in the lower digestive tract (lower intestine) will overgrow as well.
Humans are not conscious of the fact hydrochloric acid (HCl) secretion sterilizes the stomach against orally-ingested food-borne bacteria and fungi. Lack of stomach acid can be a life-or-death issue. Few if any physicians would link the growing mortal threat of Clostridium difficile infections with low stomach acid secretion. However, there is a growing body of evidence linking antacid use with gastric infections.
You may be a post-menopausal woman who takes calcium supplements but still cannot pass your bone density test. You don’t know the supplemental calcium you take isn’t being absorbed, due to the lack of stomach acid.
Medical schools misdirect physicians to focus on excess stomach acid and the prescription of acid inhibitors and blockers. Acid-blocking drugs (proton pump inhibitors) can impair absorption of calcium to the point where bones weaken and fractures result. Mortality after a hip fracture is 20%. Among those who survive, 1 in 5 patients requires nursing home care.
You may take a multivitamin to ensure you have no shortages of essential nutrients. But you may still be nutrient-deficient due to lack of stomach acid.
A number of years ago geriatrician John Morley reported that even vitamin supplementation did not totally resolve nutrient deficiencies.
Dr. Morley attributed this problem to the lack of stomach acid.
Essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium and zinc and essential B vitamins (particularly B12) and vitamin C all require stomach acid to be absorbed.
You are playing Russian roulette when you take antacid pills to quell heartburn. Not only does bacteria overgrow without acid but nutrients such as zinc and vitamin C are poorly absorbed, resulting in a weakened immune system.
While doctors know a common bacterium that infects millions of adults and children, known as Helicobacter pylori, shuts off stomach acid secretion, you may have tested negative for that bacterium. Maybe H. pylori infection has damaged the parietal cells that secrete stomach acid to the point where the lack of stomach acid can’t be reversed with eradication of this stomach bacterium. Then sufferers have to totally rely upon acid pills to fully digest and absorb nutrients for the remainder of their lives.
Betaine acid supplementation also offers potential health benefits in organs and tissues outside the digestive tract.
The digestive tract secretes an array of enzymes to break down fats (lipase), proteins (protease), starch (amylase). Use of acid pills (betaine) increases enzyme activity to further aid digestion.
The elevated finger-like villi that push food along in the digestive tract can decrease in height and foster pockets of painful inflammation called diverticulitis. Acid pills elevate the height of villi and avert the problem.
While it is said there is no effective weight loss remedy, supplemental acid as betaine has been shown to inhibit fat production in a person’s midsection and also inhibits insulin resistance.
Supplemental acid also helps resolve a fatty liver condition, in particular fatty liver induced by excessive alcohol consumption.
An undesirable protein called homocysteine adversely affects the brain. Remarkably, by virtue of betaine’s ability to inhibit homocysteine, it is a candidate molecule to arrest Alzheimer’s disease memory loss.
Surprisingly, raising betaine levels improves cholesterol numbers.
Bile, produced in the liver to help digest fats, is stored in the gall bladder, a “squirt gun” for hydrochloric acid. Low stomach acid is common among patients with gallstones, occurring in 52% of patients in one study.
One word of caution. If you already know you have gastric ulcers, acid pills may be problematic. Since common pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin may induce ulcers, their co-use with acid pills (betaine) is not advised.
Hippocrates Digestive Compound (Hydrochloric acid) is available at www.hippocrates.com.au