HCl Supplements Effect on Body pH
I do not produce enough stomach acid per the Heidelberg pH test. I have been taking HCL supplements with each meal to retrain my stomach to produce the acid it needs to digest my food.
Also, another health care person told me that my entire system is too acidic. My urine ph is about 5.8 -- I have acid reflux, osteoporosis and feel generally sick all over most of the time.
Can the HCL tablets make my entire body more acidic or does improving my digestion make my body more alkaline? RESPONSE
Great question – although I suspect you already know, or are at least leaning toward, the right answer.
It's great to see that you are taking HCl supplements even though you suffer from acid reflux. So many of us are conditioned to believe that too much stomach acid causes digestive problems, when too little stomach acid is almost always the culprit.
Acid lowering, or acid blocking, medications do lower your body pH and make you deficient in critical nutrients. See my page on acid reflux medications negatively effect body pH levels
for more info on the process.
HCl (hydrochloric acid) tablets, on the other hand, have a positive affect on body pH balance
The process of digestion is rather complex, of course. Let me try to summarize in an easy to understand way. If something isn't clear, please let me know (use the comment link below) and I'll try to find another way to explain.
Say you just finished dinner. Hopefully you chew you food well – digestion starts in the mouth after all. Food should be mush before we swallow – the stomach is not fond of food chunks.
When food is in the stomach, a hormone called gastrin is activated by specialized stomach cells called g-cells. Gastrin controls the amount of gastric juices produced and HCl is the main component of these juices
Every time we eat, our stomach needs to make enough HCl to reduce its pH to around 2.0. This very low pH environment turns on protein-digesting enzymes, kills harmful microbes, and allows for proper vitamin and mineral absorption.
Stomach acid is produced on demand only. Many people are
under the impression that our stomach always has acid sitting in it. If that were the case, the acid would eat away at the stomach tissue leaving a big hole in the stomach. That wouldn't be good for anyone fond on living! :)
So how does the stomach make its gastric acid?
Specialized stomach cells called parietal cells are the ones responsible. But in order for these cells to make the HCl, they need to contain adequate amounts of certain minerals – the most important being zinc, magnesium, and chloride.
People with an acidic body pH are always low in these minerals. See acidosis
for an explanation on why.
Being deficient in these minerals means that parietal cells do not have the raw materials they need to make enough HCl. This means the food digests slowly and incompletely and it ends up sitting in the stomach much longer than it's supposed to be.
The longer the food stays in the stomach, the greater the chance of the esophageal sphincter (the "valve" that joins the esophagus to the stomach) relaxing and allowing acids into your throat.
Low stomach acid also makes it difficult to properly utilize B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium from food (protein too!). So your parietal cells become more and more depleted and make less and less HCl. This leaves your body even more deficient in the nutrients it needs to be healthy, so your body pH becomes more and more acidic.
So taking your HCl supplements with each meal is the best way to stop this horrible cycle. The HCl allows your body to properly process the nutrients in your food. Eventually your mineral reserves will be replenished, your body pH will become more alkaline, and your parietal cells will once again be able to produce enough HCl on their own.
Hopefully this has all been clear. If not, click the comment link below and let me know.
Also, since you mentioned that you suffer from a general feeling of being unwell and osteoporosis, please have your vitamin D levels
checked. The vast majority of those of us in the U.S. are vitamin D deficient
Wishing you the best of health,
Melissa Approach Wellness