Just what is the truth about 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 plays a big part in 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. The level of acid in the stomach is usually in the 1 to 3 range, very acidic. Looking at the chart you can see that it is similar in strength to battery acid! Let me repeat the fact that your stomach is made to handle this much acid. Hard to believe you can actually have too much isn’t it? 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 the 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 it’s the 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 grossed out to learn about these beneficial bacteria. They are essential to good digestion, in fact you cannot survive without them.
Hey, with all this acid, why doesn't the stomach digest itself?
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 knows what the long-term health effects are going to be. What does your common sense tell you about this?
Now, with that in mind I want to go back to the question I asked on the Homepage - How do you know that you have too much acid in your stomach?
Was a test done to measure the acid level in your stomach? Just because you are burping up acid that you can sometimes taste doesn't mean you have too much, you are supposed to have acid in the stomach and as you just read above it is supposed to be very potent!
I want you to consider something you've probably never heard, your problem may not be too much acid but too little acid! Follow this link to learn about low stomach acid!Back to top