Do you remember as a child when you felt really hungry for supper after playing outside all afternoon? As an adult, do you still have this strong hunger feeling? This intense hunger feeling is important! In part, the feeling of hunger is created when hydrochloric acid (having an acid pH of 3 of lower) is produced in the stomach in preparation for digesting a meal. Hydrochloric acid (Hcl) and pepsin aid in digesting vital nutrients, especially protein. Even though plenty of food may be consumed at a meal, if there is insufficient gastric juices to begin the digestive process, some nutrients may not be assimilated.
Salt is Good
Salt is beneficial for the digestive process. Hydrochloric Acid (Hcl) is formed through a chemical process utilizing the chloride from salt (NaCl) and the hydrogen from water (H2O). Staying hydrated is so important in maintaining the nearly two quarts of gastric juices secreted by the stomach each day. No wonder there is a Scripture in Mark 9:50 stating, “Salt is good.” The healthiest form of salt contains a wide spectrum of trace minerals, like natural sea salt. The United States Recommended Daily Allowance (USRDA) for salt is one teaspoon (2,300 mg.).1 When salt is consumed, with an inadequate amount of potassium provided in the diet, the sodium/potassium ratio in the body becomes out of balance. The USRDA for potassium is 4,700 mg.1 Consuming high potassium foods to aid in balancing sodium levels is preferred instead of cutting sodium intake below the USRDA. Low salt levels may lead to low Hcl production and poor digestion. Celery is a vegetable high in natural sodium (chloride), giving it a naturally salty taste.
Why is Potassium Important?
Potassium and sodium are both electrolytes, which are charged particles that carry an electric current across cells. Potassium and sodium work harmoniously in all tissues of the body, maintaining fluid balance of cells. As the RDA suggests, it is important to consume over twice as much potassium as sodium for optimum electrolyte balance. When sodium is consumed in a higher quantity than potassium, high blood pressure is the most common side effect. Potassium supports kidney function, nerves, muscles, water balance, and metabolism. In a recent study, less than two percent of US adults consume the dietary recommendations for potassium.2 Consume an abundance of potassium rich foods for an optimum sodium/potassium ratio, like sweet potatoes, squash, leafy greens, and avocados.
What depletes Hcl?
Consuming a diet containing refined foods like white sugar, white flour, corn syrup, etc. does not provide sufficient nutrients for maintaining strong digestive juices. A diet containing whole foods typically provides an abundance of nutrients for creating sufficient digestive juices. Hcl is recycled by the body, but when Hcl is significantly diminished, there may be undigested food particles visually seen in a bowel movement.
Besides poor nutrition, stress is another factor which depletes stomach acid. For good digestion, the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest system) must be dominant. While under stress (sympathetic nervous system being dominant), there is typically a lower secretion of digestive juices. Taking an adequate amount of time for a meal, chewing the food well, and enjoying the flavors, are all important factors for abundant Hcl production.
Importance of Hcl
The stomach must produce an abundance of Hcl to unleash nutrients from food for maintaining good health. For example, the methylation process controls gene expression at the DNA level. Without the following key nutrients provided in the diet, and properly digested by Hcl and digestive enzymes for easy assimilation, the critically important methylation process is hindered. Methyl groups aid in liver detoxification, controlling inflammation, fighting infection, neurotransmitter function, repairing DNA, gene expression, and a host of other fundamental processes.
- Methionine – sesame seeds (tahini), almonds, fish, leafy greens
- Folic Acid – sunflower seeds, peas, lentils, leafy greens
- Vit. B2 – meat, dairy, almonds, leafy greens
- Vit. B6 – meat, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds
- Vit. B12 – meat, dairy, seaweed, good bacteria
- Choline – egg yolks, sunflower seeds, meat, fish, dairy
- Betaine – quinoa, amaranth, rye, leafy greens, beets
- Magnesium – pumpkin seeds, almonds, green vegetables
- Zinc – pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds (tahini), meat, and beans
I am not recommending the doctor on this video, but I thought you’d like to see these diagrams and explanations about nutritional deficiencies leading to a weakened methylation process.
What if I Tend to Have Weak Digestion?
For supporting digestive juices, Biotics Research provides a supplement, Betaine Plus HP.
“Why you may need Betaine Plus HP – Individuals complaining of gastrointestinal upset, indigestion or heartburn most likely assume their problem stems from an overproduction of stomach acid. This is a common misconception that has been strongly reinforced by television and print advertising that suggests the use of stomach acid blocking products at the slightest sign of discomfort. Paradoxically, the complaints for excessive stomach acid, are almost exactly the same as for someone having too little stomach acid, which is actually more prevalent. Recent studies have supported what many clinicians have known for years; that low stomach acid production is common, affecting an estimated 50% of the U.S. population over the age of 50.
This may also be problematic for many of those who have consumed a relatively demineralized Standard American Diet (SAD). Gastric juice produced by the stomach contains hydrochloric acid and pepsinogens, precursors of the enzyme pepsin. Hydrochloric acid is a strong mineral acid which functions to maintain gastric pH between 1.5 and 2.5. The highly acidic gastric juice serves many functions, primarily: • The low pH kills microorganisms in food such as bacteria, yeasts, and parasites, providing a protective barrier • It activates pepsinogen, and functions as the primary digestive fluid for breaking down (denaturing) proteins, preparing them for assimilation • It functions as a venting mechanism against the buildup of excessive concentrations of hydrogen ions in blood and interstitial fluids, thereby helping to regulate excessive tissue acidity.” Continue reading>> Betaine Plus HP Supplement FAQs by Biotics Research.
TMG (trimethylglycine), also known as betaine, is a bulk powdered supplement (available through Biotics Research), which is cost effective compared to capsules for those interested in taking powdered supplements. Betaine is a critical component in the methylation cycle, as seen in the chart. Read more information in this Biotics Research Product Feature.
High quality potassium tablets are available through Biotics Research, called K-Zyme. An FDA regulation only permits 99 mg. of potassium per tablet, so many people choose to purchase Potassium-HP powder, which is a cost effective means of supplementing adequate potassium levels, to reach the 4,700 mg as recommended by the US RDA.
According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (Dietary Reference intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium Chloride and Sulfate. February 11, 2004), “Adults should consume at least 4.7 grams of potassium per day to lower blood pressure, blunt the effects of salt, and reduce the risk of kidney stones and bone loss. However, most American women 31 to 50 years old consume no more than half of the recommended amount of potassium, and men’s intake is only moderately higher. There was no evidence of chronic excess intakes of potassium in apparently healthy individuals and thus no UL [upper limit of intake] was established.” (Potassium-HP by Biotics Research)
Consider taking a Hair Mineral Analysis lab test, available through our Store, which charts the levels of 21 minerals and toxic metals in the hair. This report shows which beneficial minerals are out of balance in the body and which heavy metals need to be detoxified.
Also see the post Enzymes for Life Energy for information about digestive enzymes secreted by the liver/gallbladder and pancreas. This post primarily focuses on the function of the secretion of Hcl through the stomach, and its importance in the assimilation of nutrients from food.