We will review some of the scientific and medical findings which indicate that a deficiency of stomach hydrochloric acid is a significant contributing factor to a wide range of health problems. In addition, we will review information which indicates that supplements of hydrochloric acid and its associated nutrients at meal times has proven beneficial.
The Role of Hydrochloric Acid:
When food is swallowed it passes through a tube called the esophagus and ends up in a muscular bag called the stomach. The inner lining of the stomach is dotted with what are known as gastic glands. These glands contain several different types of cells, one of which is known as the parietal cell which produces the hydrochloric acid or HCI for short.
The purpose of HCI is four-fold. (1) It starts the digestive breakdown of protein so that it can eventually become amino acids which our body needs to manufacture enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, muscle, connective tissue and other protein structures. (2) It separates the fats and oils from our food. (3) It separates minerals from the food. (4) It helps us obtain many of our vitamins.
When there isn’t Enough:
Scientific studies have shown that there are many people who do not manufacture enough HCI in their stomachs. Several studies have also shown that we produce more HCI in the early part of the day than we do in the evening. Perhaps this is what prompted Benjamin Franklin to coin the phrase that, “in the morning we should eat like a King, at noon like a prince, and at night like a pauper.” This is especially true when we get older, an indication that we do not manufacture enough HCI is difficulty in digesting large evening meals. This is a rather common occurrence among those past age 40 and increases as we grow older. A study by Drs. D.T. Davies and T.J. James published in the Quarterly Journal of Medicine showed that in a group of 100 normal people over the age of 60, over 50% had what is called hypochlorhydria. This simply means they did not make enough HCI to adequately digest the food in their stomach. Worse still was the fact that this and other studies reveals this gets progressively worse as we age, and that many people over the age of 65 make no HCI at all. This is a condition called achlorhydria. Without adequate HCI as we age, we are unable to obtain the amino acids, the minerals or the vitamins that we need.