Hydrochloric acid is also known as HCL acid and betaine hydrochloride in supplement form. It is probably one of the important juices found in the human body. It is secreted into the stomach lumen by its walls and plays an active role in the digestion of different substances that you eat. The problem is that when you age, the production of HCl just goes down and down, year by year. The reduction in the production of HCl leads to many gastrointestinal issues like heartburn, bloating, belching, and poor nutrient absorption. Moreover, a decreased production of HCl can also lead to skin problems such as acne rosacea, mineral deficiencies, and autoimmune reactions. We can say that HCl’s benefits are immense and diverse.
One of the main HCl benefits is the fact that it is a strong acid having a very low pH. So it can kill microbes and bacteria that get their way into the stomach. While we prefer our bodies to remain more alkaline than acidic, the stomach is an exception. It should have a pH between 1 and 2 to function properly. Low pH is an essential requirement for most digestive enzymes to carry on their function.
Low stomach acid
HCl benefits are diverse and it prevents many digestive problems when it is produced in sufficient quantities. On the other hand, the lack of it or insufficient production of it leads to many digestive problems including increased gas, bloating, heartburn, acid reflux symptoms, candida growth, bacterial overgrowth, and trouble digesting protein. So the question becomes ‘how can we achieve sufficient production of HCl?’ The answer to this lies in limiting the risk factors associated with low stomach acid that include stress, crash dieting, and taking certain medications. We can naturally increase the production of HCl by doing healthy activities. Like avoiding stress, exercising, and taking an anti-inflammatory diet.
Keep on reading to learn more about HCL benefits, how to increase its production, and more.
What is HCl?
Hydrochloric acid is an essential part of gastric juice. That secreted in the gastric lumen by cells that constitute the stomach wall. Besides protecting us from infections. It has a role in digesting food, especially protein so that we can absorb nutrients and get rid of toxins.
Our body has to invest lots of energy in producing hydrochloric acid. It produces it so that we can digest food and take other advantages that come with it. Hypochlorhydria is a condition marked by insufficient secretion of HCl. Achlorhydria is another condition characterized by a total lack of production of hydrochloric acid. Both are damaging and signal potential health risks.
1. Aids in the digestion
HCl is responsible for the digestion of the food we eat. Pepsin is the main enzyme that digests proteins, however, HCl is secreted first to ease the job of pepsin. Moreover, it is only after the release of hydrochloric acid that bile is released from the liver to help digest the food. It also signals the release of pancreatic enzymes that are responsible for the major roles of digestion.
What are the signs that your stomach may not be producing enough acid? These include heartburn, acid reflux, bloating, and stomachache. It seems counterintuitive but heartburn and acid reflux can be due to low acid or associated with inflammation in the stomach.
2. Antimicrobial effects
Have you ever wondered what might be controlling the diversity and number of microbial entities in your gut? A recent finding suggests that stomach acid plays an active role in managing the number and types of bacteria present in your alimentary canal.
One important HCl benefit is that it keeps the pH of the stomach very low, rendering it highly acidic enough to kill the most harmful microbes. HCl acts as a barrier between your body and the harmful bacteria that can get their way in. We need high levels of HCl to keep most fungal and bacterial infections at bay.
Another study holds that HCl can break down food allergens, rendering them less likely to cause negative reactions and autoimmune responses. If your body is not making sufficient HCl, there is a chance that microbes grow inside and cause various problems for your gut. There is also a chance of food allergens causing inflammatory and autoimmune responses. Recent research has stated that low acidity in the stomach can lead to stomach ulcers as it allows certain bacteria to grow inside your stomach that harm the stomach wall.
3. Defends against candida
A condition candida can develop due to high alkalinity and low acidity in the stomach. It is marked by an overgrowth of yeast and fungus in the stomach. Candida outgrowth syndrome or COS is a term used when fungus outgrowth has gone out of control in your body. The fungus is very invasive and can spread through the intestine to other parts of the body including genitals, toenails, esophagus, and mouth.
A plethora of healthy bacteria in your gut and a normal-functioning immune system are required to fight this disease.
4. Supports your skin
Many skin problems such as eczema, acne, rosacea, and dermatitis have been linked to a decreased production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and an over-production of many inflammatory substances such as cytokines.
Supplementation of hydrochloric acid has been found helpful in fighting rosacea. The reason is that the bacteria that normally cause acne problems and other inflammation issues are killed in the stomach by hydrochloric acid. Reduced production of this acid allows these inflammation-causing bacteria to grow exponentially and harm your body.
5. Nutrient absorption
The inability to break down proteins into amino acids inside the stomach leads to various health issues like hair loss or alopecia, mood swings, and nutrient imbalance. HCL is also known to be required for the absorption and metabolism of various elements, minerals, and vitamins.
If you’re running low on hydrochloric acid, one way to increase the amount in your body is to take it in supplement form. You can take acid supplements coupled with pepsin to help your gut restore its proper functioning.