As I was reading the chapter on Impaired Digestion in Renew Your Life, I realized that I might have a stomach acid (Hydrochloric Acid (HCL)) deficiency.
Here’s what it said about Low Production Of Hydrochloric Acid: Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) is a digestive acid produced in the stomach by millions of parietal cells that line the stomach. HCL is so strong that it will burn your skin. The lining of the stomach is protected from this acid, however, by a layer of mucus. Adequate production of HCl is critical to good health and a properly functioning digestive system because it:
Helps break down protein.
Sterilizes food by destroying bacteria and microbes that are present.
Is required for production of intrinsic factor (needed for B12 absorption)
Is needed for mineral absorption
Signals the pancreas to secrete enzymes in the small intestine
Other problems with low HCL include poor mineral absorption and reduced enzyme production. The presence of HCL in the duodenum signals the pancreas to release water, bicarbonate and enzymes. When the PH of the stomach is elevated or alkaline (due to HCL deficiency), the PH of the rest of the body can become imbalanced. The body cannot maintain homeostasis under these conditions, and serious degenerative diseases, including cancer, congestive heart failure, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease can result.
The symptoms of HCL deficiency are basically the same as those of excessive HCL production. These symptoms include:
A loss of taste for meat.
Fullness, distension in the abdomen.
Diarrhea and constipation.
Intestinal parasites or abnormal flora.
Itching around the rectum.
Undigested food in the stool.
Weak, peeling and cracked fingernails.
This was very interesting to me because every so often, after I eat, I will get these strange pains in my stomach. Exactly in my stomach. Sometimes they are so bad that I have to lie down until they pass. Sometimes it feels like trapped gas, other times really bad heartburn, other times just a sour stomach, and other times like someone is stabbing me with knives. There’s been quite a few times when I’ve been out with friends for dinner and have had to go home instead of going out with them afterwards because my stomach was in such pain and I didn’t know how long it would take to pass. This doesn’t happen often, only occasionally, about once every few months, but enough to be annoying.
When I looked at the list of symptoms, I realized that I had 10 out of the 16: A loss of taste for meat. Stomach pain. Distension in the abdomen. Abnormal flora. Iron deficiency. Passing undigested food. Acne. Candida infections. Food allergies. Weak, peeling, and cracked fingernails.
So I took the test that they have in the book to see if I was indeed HCL deficient. According to the test, I am very HCL deficient. My first PH reading was somewhere around 6.0 and my second reading was exactly the same, both which indicate a need for more stomach acid. I went to Vitamin Shoppe, bought some Betaine HCL and today is the first day that I’ve started taking it with my meals. We’ll see what kind of a difference it makes, if any.
Here’s how to test to see if you have low stomach acid (are HCL deficient) also. From Renew Your Life
Test Your PH One way to determine if you have a HCL deficiency is to use special PH testing paper (which measures acidity/alkalinity) first thing in the morning to obtain a reading of the PH of your saliva. Record the number corresponding to the color change on the paper, then test the saliva again about 1/2 hour after eating breakfast. You should see an increase in PH, ideally by two whole numbers (from a PH of 7 to a PH of 9, for example). If the second reading decreases instead of increasing, and/or the first reading was initially low (less than 6.5), it is an indication of a need for more stomach acid.