What your GP won’t tell you about stomach acid and heart burn…the truth
[Heartburn, also known as: Acid indigestion, Pyrosis]
According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 25 million Americans are suffering from heartburn each year. A large number of the population are afflicted with this painful and potentially dangerous health problem.
Over the past decade pharmaceutical companies have led us to believe that the cause of this heartburn epidemic is an overproduction of stomach acid and doctors are writing millions of “acid blocker” prescriptions each year aimed at easing the symptoms of acid reflux, more importantly to them,fuelling the pharmacutical industry that preys on the lack of greater public awarness and education.
Ironically however, low stomach acid levels, not excessive levels, may very well be causing your heartburn. And further more, the very act of “blocking” your stomach acid production can have disastrous consequences for your health down the road.
Ok, so what does actually cause Heartburn?
Acid reflux is often incorrectly thought of as a stomach acid disease, but actually it is the result of a malfunctioning muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a flap that separates the base of the esophagus from the top of the stomach and opens only to allow food and liquids to pass down or vomit or gas to pass up. When the LES is functioning properly it will remain closed at all other times, sealing off the esophagus from the harmful acids in the stomach. When the LES is malfunctioning however, the corrosive stomach acids are able to make their way into the esophagus where they burn the esophageal lining. Over time this can lead to ulcers, swelling and other serious conditions. Many things can lead to LES malfunction: the consumption of nicotine, caffeine, chocolate, certain drugs, eating large meals, obesity, food allergies, hernia (hiatal), alcohol and low stomach acid.
Just what is the deal with stomach acid?
Watch any amount of television today and you can’t help but be bombarded by professional ads for expensive drugs to relieve us of this nasty “excess acid” we all seem to have. Magazines are polluted with ads for the same. If the commercials are not about acid suppressing drugs they are about antacids.
How much are we supposed to have and what is causing all this excess acid? We have been taught to believe that this excess acid is the cause of acid reflux, this is simply not true.
Stomach Acid is Needed to Break Down Food
First off, your stomach has acid in it because it’s supposed to. Stomach acid does the major part of breaking down the food we eat. Our stomachs have to secrete lots of hydrochloric acid (HCI) every time we eat to break this food down into a soupy mix which is passed on to the small intestine where the nutrients are absorbed into the body.
Without proper amounts of acid in the stomach food will not digest properly.
How acidic is the stomach acid supposed to be? Acid is measured using the pH scale.
The pH scale runs from 0 to 14. 0 being the most acidic while 14 is the most alkaline. 7 is neutral. Stomach acid levels usually are in the 1 to 3 range, very acidic. It is similar in strength to battery acid! Remember, your stomach is made to handle this much acid. Hard to believe you can actually have too much.
Only 0 is less than 1 on the scale. It is also no wonder that even a small amount where it doesn’t belong can cause major problems.
Acid helps digest protein. Pepsin is an enzyme which is needed for the digestion of protein. When we eat, the secretion of acid by the stomach triggers the production of pepsin. If acid levels are suppressed then so are pepsin levels. Proteins cannot be broken down into amino acids and peptides. Our bodies must have many of these essential amino acids to stay alive and healthy.
Defense Against Infection
Proper levels of HCI in the stomach are also your first line of defense against bacterial and viral infections. All day long we unavoidably ingest all kinds of bacteria and viruses through the mouth, nose and food we eat. These germs just cannot survive the trip into the stomach because of its acidic environment. The healthy stomach essentially remains sterile.
Normally good bacteria, that live lower down in your digestive tract, can also move up into the stomach if it becomes more alkaline. Proper acid levels in the stomach prevent this over-growth from occurring. Don’t be too shocked to learn about these beneficial bacteria. They are essential to good digestion, in fact you cannot survive without them.
As you can see the role that stomach acid plays in digestion is a very important one. To take medications that completely or almost completely shut down or neutralize stomach acid for long periods of time is asking for a whole host of health problems.
These drugs are so new that NO ONE, Nobody, not even your GP, or senior consultant knows what the long-term health effects are going to be. What does your common sense tell you about this?.
What should I do?.
Above all else, contact someone that will put you in touch with the ‘whole truth’ regarding diet, digestion and wholly natural treatments and advice with relation to this subject.
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