Stomach acid is vital to good health. It is the first major step in breaking down your food, which is so critical to proper nutrition. The myth is that you are what you eat. But in fact, you are what you absorb. Acid is especially important for breaking down proteins into amino acids and is required for the optimal release and preparation of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron for absorption.
Vitamin B12 also isn’t adsorbed without this acid. The same cells that produce acid produce intrinsic factor, which is required for B12 absorption. Without B12 you become B12 deficient, leading to fatigue and neurological problems. Decreased acid levels can also cause digestive problems further on down the line. Pancreatic enzymes, bicarbonate and bile are all released in the small intestine in response to the acidic load that normally leaves the stomach.
Without these, digestion continues to degenerate, resulting in a far less than optimal nutritional gain from your food and potentially damaging byproducts. The pH, now off in the entire digestive tract, damages the environment for billions of normal/good bacteria, critical to proper digestion and good health.
Stomach acid is also your primary defense against food-borne infections. Bacteria don’t usually survive the stomach, therefore decreased acid increases your risk of food poisoning.
Nutrients provide the building blocks for our entire biochemistry. Optimal health requires optimal nutrition. And that is why you need stomach acid!
Dr. Stephen Wangen is the award winning author of two books on solving digestive disorders, and a nationally recognized speaker on IBS. He has been on ABC, NBC, and Fox as well as public radio. He was recently named one of Seattle’s Top Doctors by Seattle Magazine.