We need the correct level of stomach acid, i.e. low pH of 1.5 to 3.5, in order to protect us from the outside environment and to help us break down our food proteins. Our mouth is exposed to all sorts of bacteria and parasites found in our food, in our liquids, person to person contact, animals and in the air that we breathe. Therefore the higher the pH of our stomach acid the more susceptible we are to these things that can make us sick.
Stomach acid is made by parietal cells in the stomach and if there is a pH of over 4 then this reduces its anti-bacterial properties so it’s not protecting us as it should. It also reduces B12 absorption and Vitamin A, D and calcium all rely on a low pH too.
In the UK if someone has reflux or heartburn it is generally assumed that there is a high level of acid being made in the stomach and it is common for them to be given antacids, otherwise known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) via prescription. Low or high levels of stomach acid have very similar symptoms but this is generally not tested so are we giving people antacids when they don’t really need them?
Some people will benefit from a short term dose but in the long term it alters our stomach acid so that it is no longer doing the job it was designed for. Imagine low pH stomach acid being as strong as car battery acid but, with long term use of antacids, this is then reduced to the strength of table vinegar which cannot do the job of breaking down proteins and preparing our food for digestion and absorption. Just remember ‘good digestion is the seat of our good health.’
There are other methods we can use to control reflux and heartburn and in the next post I will give you some examples of how we can do this.