Written by Dr. Michael Murray
Although much is said about hyperacidity conditions, a more common cause of indigestion is a lack of gastric acid secretion. It is estimated that approximately 40% of people over the age of 40 may suffer from hypochlorhydria or gastric acid secretion. That is more than double the amount of people who may be secreting too much acid.
Common Symptoms Resulting From Low Secretion of HCl and Pepsin
- Bloating, belching, burning or flatulence within the first 30 minutes after eating
- A sense of “fullness” nearly immediately after eating
- Nausea after taking supplements
- Weak, peeling and cracked fingernails
The stomach’s optimal pH range for digestion is 1.5-2.5. The use of antacids and acid-blocker drugs will typically raise the pH above 3.5. This increase effectively inhibits the action of pepsin, an enzyme involved in protein digestion that can be irritating to the stomach. As a result, people taking these drugs often feel temporary relief. However, they may actually be hurting their digestive process because both hydrochloric acid and pepsin preform vital functions.
Why Antacids & Acid-Blocking Drugs Disrupt Your Digestion
Hydrochloric acid (HCl) secretion in the stomach aids in protein digestion. It also activates the protein-digesting enzyme pepsin, fights off the undesirable overgrowth of bacteria in the stomach and small intestine and encourages the flow of bile and pancreatic enzymes. Hydrochloric acid also facilitates the absorption of many nutrients, including folate, vitamin B12, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, iron, and some forms of calcium, magnesium and zinc. It is a major domino that must fall in order for everything else downstream.
Not only does low HCL and pepsin lead to improper protein digestion and nutrient absorption, it also promotes the overgrowth of the bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, that is associated with indigestion and stomach irritation.
Another Option for Indigestion: Betaine HCL
Enzymedica’s Betaine HCL with Pepsin and MucoSave® can help to acidify the stomach and activate the digestive process while taking advantage of the protective effects of MucoSave® on the stomach lining.* MucoSave® is a patented combination of special extracts of prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus indica) and olive leaves (Olea europaea) that is specially designed to support and maintain a healthy mucosal system in the stomach. It is also helpful with occasional, minor gastric upset or irritation.
The recommended dosage is one or two capsules with meals up to three times daily or as directed by your health care provider.