Digestion is the foundation of health. If you are not properly digesting the food you are eating you are not giving your body the nutrition it needs to function. After your food enters your mouth and you begin chewing, the enzymes in your saliva start to break down carbohydrates. It is important at this time to SLOW DOWN and chew your food. The longer your food remains in your mouth the better. When your food is properly chewed it is now ready to enter the stomach. When you swallow, your food goes down the esophagus where it enters the stomach and interacts with our stomach acids. You have many stomach acids that aid in digestion with the most prevalent being Hydrochloric acid or HCL. HCL is an acidic compound. This acidic environment is essential in breaking down proteins to their smaller usable parts known as amino acids.
Once your food has played around in our stomach acid for a bit it is on to its next adventure in the small intestines. After this acidic, partially digested food enters the duodenum (first part of the small intestines) the gallbladder releases bile. Bile is a substance made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder until needed. The bile, unlike HCL, is a very basic compound. When the acidic food mixture from the stomach reacts with the basic mixture from the gallbladder, a chemical reaction takes place. This reaction is designed to break down the fats in our food. This is the time that your gut microbes come out to play. These microbes are designed to continue to breakdown food particles utilizing them as food themselves and making them available to the rest of the body as nutrients.
It is important that all of these things happen in the right balance in order to properly move your food through the body. If this happens correctly your food is now ready to move through the small intestines and into the large intestines where the water is extracted, the waste compacted, and you are ready to release it from your body; aka “Cut the Crap”.
Stomach acid is critical in breaking down proteins and aiding in the reaction necessary to break down fats. Without adequate HCL in the stomach your body has no choice but to hold your food in your stomach until it naturally begins to break down through fermentation (or rotting) in order to move on to the next phase. This can cause a variety of symptoms such as burping, bloating, pain or cramping, acid re flux, and nausea after eating.
So you are learning that stomach acid is very important in the digestive process. Although, this is not all of what stomach acid does. We also need stomach acid to protect us from pathogens that may have come in with our food. With deficient stomach acid these pathogens are free to roam free causing various illnesses, infections and disease in the body. So let’s learn why this may happen.
What causes low stomach acid?
Stress– chronic stress is one of the most common causes of decreased stomach acid.
Vitamin Deficiencies/Diet– Deficiency of Zinc or B vitamins can also lead to low stomach acid. This may be caused by diet or nutrient loss due to stress, smoking, or alcohol consumption.
Medications– Taking medications, especially antacids or ulcer medications known as PPIs for any length of time can lead to very low stomach acid. They are designed to decrease the production of stomach acid and should be considered very damaging.
H. Pylori– H. Pylori is an infection and known to be the most common cause of gastric ulcers. If left untreated it can lead to decreased stomach acid over time.
Surgeries– Surgeries such as gastric bypass have been linked to decreased stomach acid productions.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms stomach acid may be a concern:
- Nausea after eating, or when taking vitamins or supplements
- Heartburn or re-flux
- Desire to eat when not hungry
- Hair loss
- Undigested food in stool
- Weak nails
- GI infection
- Iron Deficiency Anemia
- Mineral deficiency
- Protein deficiency
- Neurological issues, numbness, tingling, or vision changes
“How do I fix it?” you ask. Be patient that is coming. Let’s move on for now. We are still learning how things work. On to the next topic. Bile.
Bile acts as a surfactant that aids in emulsification, or in other words, mixes up the fat in your food. This allows our digestive enzymes or lipases to digest triglycerides/fatty acids. Since bile aids in the digestion of fats it is a critical part of digestion. Without proper bile or bile flow we would not be able to absorb essential vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E and K. Undigested fats can also lead to other various ailments in the intestinal tract. Bile also contains toxins and waste from the liver. These toxins include, but are not limited to, carcinogens, pharmaceuticals, and heavy metals. The excretion of bile allows for elimination of these harmful substances. Bilirubin, a useless and toxic bi product of hemoglobin, is also broken down and excreted through bile.
What causes decreased bile or bile flow?
- Liver congestion/gallstones- liver congestion can lead to poor bile flow due to gallstones or stagnation. Gallstones are caused from liver congestion.
- Decreased cholesterol production- cholesterol production has been linked to bile production, if your cholesterol production is low your bile production is likely to be low as well.
- Vitamin deficiencies- vitamin deficiencies can lead to poor bile flow.
- Sugar or processed foods- sugar and processed food cause inflammation in the body and could potentially obstruct the bile duct.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms bile may be a concern:
- Weight gain
- Chronic diarrhea
- Irritable Bowl Syndrome
- Crohns Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Duodenal ulcers
- Light colored stools
- Chronic ache
Now that you have a better understanding of how your body works we can start the process of healing this system. Digestion is the foundation of health. As we now understand, if you do not have a fully functioning digestive system you simply cannot function efficiently. Once there has been a diagnosis established, I would highly recommend incorporating an HCL and Beet Flow regiment. It is extremely vital that you do not take HCL alone as that can have negative side effects. The two supplements work hand in hand.
- If you have not already done so, you book your first appointment for your 6 week digestion program or if you have any questions, please call 573-569-5193.
- If you are a current patient and in need of refills, you can purchase these supplements @http://SHOP SQEZ
Dr. Wrendy Marcinik