It seems we have an epidemic of acid reflux these days. Unfortunately, the treatment, the use of acid-stopping medications, is far worse than the condition. That’s because the true culprit is not being addressed. And, as usual, underlying the whole problem is our lifestyle … and stress.
The truth of the matter is that, in the vast majority of cases of acid reflux, the problem is not too much stomach acid, but too little. How can a lack of stomach acid cause the burning you feel in your chest, stomach or throat? Give me a few minutes of your time to explain. I think it will be worth your while. I am going to use a little knowledge of physiology and a lot of common sense to shed some light on this.
When you react to stress, your body perceives the stress as a threat and acts to “save itself” with a combination of physiological changes we label as the Stress Response. The Stress Response is set in motion by the release of adrenaline (or epinephrine) by the adrenal glands. Adrenaline causes the body to increase blood flow to the large muscles (to respond to the emergency) and decrease blood flow to the digestive system (which is not needed in an emergency). If you are under chronic stress, your body is regularly depressing the digestive system and producing decreased amounts of digestive acid, or hydrochloric acid.
Decreased stomach acid means that your stomach cannot digest foods properly, which leads to rotting foods in your stomach. These rotting foods produce acid by the process of putrefaction or fermentation, hence the acid of acid indigestion or acid reflux. If stress is not a problem for you, don’t feel left out. A diet full of chemicals, processed or refined foods or too heavy in proteins will also create poor digestion and rotting, putrefying foods in your stomach and intestines.
The purpose of hydrochloric acid is to break down food so that your body can extract the necessary nutrients used to produce energy and build new cells for growth and repair of body tissues. Acid-stopping medications such as Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium, (known as “proton pump inhibitors”), stop your stomach lining from producing its normal digestive acids, thus compounding the problems caused by too little stomach acid.
Proteins and most minerals require an acid medium to be properly digested and absorbed. Acid-stopping medications not only decrease the absorption of these nutrients, they also stop the stomach cells from producing Intrinsic Factor, which is necessary for the absorption of Vitamin B12. These medications also make the digestive tract more vulnerable to parasites in foods, which are normally sterilized by hydrochloric acid.
And if that is not enough, acidity of the stomach is also the signal for the digestive contributions of the pancreas, liver and gallbladder. You are probably getting the idea that stopping the stomach from producing hydrochloric acid affects most parts of the digestive process and inhibits normal digestion and absorption of nutrients. The inevitable result of years of acid-stopping medications is malnutrition, poor health and an endless list of diseases and illnesses initiated or escalated by poor nutrition.
There is a way to defuse this ticking time bomb, but it takes many months of natural remedies to heal the deterioration of the stomach lining and stimulate the stomach to produce enough hydrochloric acid to properly break down foods and extract nutrients. The bottom line is that, without the necessary nutrients, you cannot build new cells for growth and repair, nor can you produce enough energy for your daily physical activities and the metabolic activities that keep you alive and functioning. The end result is a deterioration of your health and quality of life.