I found an interesting passage recently from The Amino Revolution by Robert Erdmann, one of the leading experts on this subject. I thought it might explain to you why I am always blathering on about making sure you digest your food and supplements better! Here it is:
“Usually when it reaches your stomach, your food activates the release of hydrochloric acid. This acid environement is important for stimulating the enzyme pepsin into action. Pepsin digests approx 15% of the food before it passes on to the small intestine. But for those people who suffer from low stomach acid (perhaps caused by smoking, heavy drinking or just age) the percentage will be much less.
One of the first results of this drop in acid is that the food will literally start to ferment. Here’s why: your body permits the growth of a certain amount of bacteria and yeast to aid digestion….the threat of any dangerous expansion in the intestine’s yeast colony is kept in check by acids and enzymes. Stresses inhibit enzyme production and allow yeasts to flourish. Insufficient stomach acid, leading to low pepsin levels, is one such stress. It lets the yeast colony become so overactive it causes fermentation. Large quantities of carbohydrate are then turned into alcohol, In some cases, this is so serious that victims literally get drunk on the carbs they eat. It distorts consciousness, puts massive stress on the liver and kidneys and often leads to hypogylcemia (low blood sugar) and obesity. Like alcoholics needing a drink, they simply cannot live without eating increasing amounts of carbs.
Few people realise that this can be traced back to a yeast problem in the intestines – still fewer that low stomach acid levels are directly responsible. We estimate that as many as 9 out of 10 stomach upsets mistakenly attributed to acid indigestion – too much acid – are actually the result of yeast fermentation from too little acid. The common response? To reach for the antacid tablet. But this only serves to reduce acid levels further and is the worst thing you can do.
Worse is to come as the undigested fermenting food reaches the small intestine. This is where the body secretes digestive enzymes. But with your body already under the stresses caused by depleted stomach acid, the pancreas can’t cope with the increased quantity of undigested food. Much of the food therefore just sits in the intestines and putrefies, releasing potentially harmful substances. The results of this may range from subtle changes in behaviour – how well you remember things and think – to severe emotional problems like anxiety, depression etc. In time, this leads to diarrhoea. Putrid smelling flatulence and stools, and a powerful unpleasant body odour are common physical symptoms of putrefaction.
Remember all the problems noted so far result from depleted stomach acid. And the implications of this depletion go beyond even these serious health problems. “I have found…that patients are either hypo or achlorydic (have little or no stomach acid). In order for them to get any nutrition, you’ve got to supplement their stomach acid.” (Newbold, talking about cancer patients.)
The first thing to do then to get a patient well is to raise the acid levels in the stomach to allow digestion to take place.”
It was nice to see everything I witter on about written down by an eminent scientist in this field. I then read on to see how he recommends you do it. Basically, you need replacement acid, pepsin, pancreatic enzymes, glutamic acid HCl and free from amino acids. These are necessary in bad cases as every digestive enzyme is made from an amino acid. Free form ones need no further digestion and can therefore be used immediately by the body.
Some of you ask why there are so many different digestive supplements. Well, here’s your answer: it depends what you’re trying to correct!
- Betaine & Pepsin is pure stomach acid and pepsin
- Betaine, Glutamic Acid HCl, low level pancreatic enzymes and pepsin are an all in one, but not too strong on pancreatic enzymes so good for lower or maintenance
- Pancreatin is a glandular product much stronger version of pancreatic enzymes. Used with meals it helps you break it down in the small intestine. Between meals, it is said to help break down things that shouldn’t be there like protein fragments, yeast spores, fibroids etc.
- Plant-based pancreatic enzyme products are used like pancreatin above but are less strong and vegetarian. You can get some with extra gluten and lactose digesting enzymes in them too.
- Free Form Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein and provide the raw materials to make all the enzymes.
Simple really, isn’t it?! Hope you found that interesting. Sometimes I think it’s a good idea to show you the workings of what we’re talking about. Experts believe almost everyone, especially those over 50, need some form of support, which is shocking, don’t you think?