Why Hydrochloric Acid Is Essential For Good Health

Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN & Amy Coates, RHN, BSc.

What, exactly, does hydrochloric acid do for you? To explain properly, let’s begin by talking a little bit about digestion.

When you eat food, it is digested in three major stages. The first stage is in your mouth, where chewing and saliva break the food down before it enters the stomach. Your mouth and saliva are best at this initial break down when your saliva is more alkaline then acidic.

The second stage begins when the food is swallowed and goes into your stomach. When food enters the stomach parietal cells produce hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid in your stomach is very concentrated and powerful.

It not only begins to dissolve your food, but it stimulates the release and conversion of an enzyme called pepsin, which helps break down proteins.

Hydrochloric acid also makes your stomach a very acidic environment, and this environment then kills off bacteria that does not have the proper pH levels to live in the stomach. In this way, hydrochloric acid keeps the good flora, or friendly enzymes, in your stomach, while killing off the bad bacteria that may be in your food.

Below the acidic stomach is where the third stage takes place. It is the alkaline lower intestinal tract. This area has its own set of friendly bacteria that keep it clean and efficient and help the body absorb nutrients. The lower intestine is the final chance for your body to extract healthy nutrients before it discards the waste.

So from your mouth, to your stomach, to your small intestine, the pH environment goes from alkaline, to acid, to alkaline again. These conditions are necessary for proper digestion, and it is hydrochloric acid within the stomach that creates the conditions necessary for the majority of digestion to take place. However, when the body becomes imbalanced, it is possible to decrease the amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

With too little hydrochloric acid in the stomach, the stomach becomes alkaline and food can no longer be digested properly.  Undigested food sits and rots, leading to all sorts of digestive issues such as fatigue, bloating, leaky gut syndrome, dysbiosis, and other problems. Also, the lower intestine, in response to the alkaline stomach, becomes acidic, killing healthy enzymes and causing the colon to become plugged.

If the problem is not corrected it just becomes worse. Parasites and fungi live  and grow off of undigested food particles, secreting their waste into your body. The rotting particles also widen pores in the intestinal walls, allowing large food and bacteria to enter the blood stream, causing allergies, aches, and illness.

Low acid in the stomach also creates belching, gas, acid reflux, heartburn, and some of the same problems often associated with having too much hydrochloric acid. This can lead some people to make their problems worse by taking an acid suppressant. Most of the time, it is too little, not too much acid, that is the problem.

So what you must remember is that that hydrochloric acid means a lot to your health because it plays an important role in how you digest food. You should take care of your stomach and maintain a proper balance by eating a diet of mostly raw fruits and vegetables. Beets, broccoli and spinach, as well as enzyme-rich foods protect your stomach’s delicate balance and keep you healthy.

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