Digestion

Digestion begins in the mouth. Chewing food mixes the foods with saliva and signals the brain to begin the digestive process. The receptors on the tongue signal the brain regarding what follows in the way of food. The hypothalamus then responds and initiates the hormonal signals to begin the production of all required enzymes and acids for the digestion of the food.

Because many people do not fully chew their food enough to properly begin the processing of starch and carbohydrates, a greater amount of this material converts to fat rather than to energy. Recall how many people you know who correctly chew their food that are significantly overweight? The answer is, not many. Most people who fully chew their food have significantly less health problems than those who do not.

The Stomach

The initiation of protein digestion is the task of the stomach. Additionally, the stomach is responsible for ensuring that minerals are broken-down for absorption across the small intestine barrier. Improper protein digestion and incorrect breakdown of minerals is not only due to diets that are high in refined carbohydrates and fast-acting sugars but, almost always because of insufficient production of hydrochloric acid. The most important element in the gastric juices is hydrochloric acid.

The production of hydrochloric acid is dependent upon the correct release of the hormone gastrin. Hydrochloric acid is produced from specific cells inside the stomach. Upon release from these cells, the hormone is absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to the fundic cells causing them to release hydrochloric acid. Besides stimulating hydrochloric acid secretion, gastrin evokes the secretion of pepsin and intrinsic factor from the stomach stimulates enzyme secretion by the pancreas and increases bile flow from the liver. Thus, insufficient gastrin production can result in improper protein digestion, pancreatic and gallbladder insufficiency and vitamin B-12 deficiency (inability to produce the intrinsic factor and inability to cleave the vitamin B-12 from its protein carrier). Although many factors (vagus activity, antral distention, lack of negative-feedback mechanism, pituitary/hypothalamus dysfunction, etc.) can result in insufficient gastrin production, pituitary and/or hypothalamus dysfunction is the problem most commonly encountered (Cytozyme-PT/HPT) by the author.

In addition to the correct production of gastrin, hydrochloric acid production requires sufficient levels of many nutrients, most importantly amino acids, thiamine, zinc, and chloride. Hydrogen and chloride are found in the bloodstream at a pH of approximately 7.4. The reduction of these elements to a pH of less than 1.0 (the pH of hydrochloric acid as it is released from the fundus of the stomach) requires a great deal of energy. The energy to complete this action is dependent upon many factors but, especially zinc and thiamine. What are two of the first two nutrients lost in the refining of food? Zinc and thiamine; therefore, you can see how the over-ingestion of refined foods has a dramatic effect on sufficient hydrochloric acid production.

The pharmaceutical industry has convinced the public that excess acid production is generally the reason for ulcers, reflux, upset stomach, etc. Over-the-counter medications to neutralize acid has been very popular for years. In the United States, histamine-blockers are now available without a script from the doctor. The histamine blockers generally stop the production of hydrochloric acid. It is interesting that several studies using gastro-telemetry equipment have indicated that most peptic ulcers are not due to a lack of hydrochloric acid; but are mainly due to a need for hydrochloric acid. Remember, the lack of hydrochloric acid results in protein putrefaction and carbohydrate fermentation. This results in the formation of lactic acid, pyruvic acid and sulfur compounds, which will burn the stomach. So here we are, not enough acid will result in the formation of compounds that burn the stomach, which results in the use of over-the-counter digestive aides that further reduce the level of hydrochloric acid. It is a vicious cycle and one that can only be overcome with the understanding that hydrochloric acid is a natural component of the stomach and is seldom present in excess. According to the literature, the following are only a few of the problems that can be associated with hypochlorhydria:

  • Addison’s disease Asthma Celiac disease Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Dermatitis Diabetes Eczema Osteo arthritis
  • Gallbladder dysfunction Grave’s disease Auto-immune disorders Pituitary dysfunction
  • Hepatitis Lupus Myasthenia gravis Thyroid dysfunction
  • Osteoporosis Pernicious anemia

Some of the subjective indications of hypochlorhydria are:

  • Gas and bloating after eating. Sleepiness after eating.
  • Loss of taste for meat. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Bad breath and/or body odor. Leaky Gut Syndrome.
  • Food and/or environmental sensitivity. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Asthma and other upper respiratory problems. Fibromyalgia
  • Intestinal parasites. Pancreatic or biliary dysfunction

Laboratory indications of hypochlorhydria:

  • Total serum globulin increased above 2.8 or decreased below 2.3 (GP and The
  • Endocrine Glands, Louis Rubel, M.D.).
  • Serum gastrin below 45 pg/mL.
  • Elevated urinary indican.
  • Low mineral values on a hair-mineral analysis.
  • Decreased serum phosphorus (below 3.0).
  • Increased undigested meat fibers and vegetable cell fibers as seen on a stool analysis.
  • BUN increased above 16.

Clinical Pearls for the use of hydrochloric acid:

Studies conducted in 1984, 1989 and 1992, on over 500 patients to determine the need for hydrochloric acid indicated that the subjective indications for hydrochloric acid were as accurate, if not more accurate, than the laboratory findings (serum gastrin, total serum globulin, and urinary indican were assessed). Conclusion – If the patient has the subjective indications of hydrochloric acid need and the laboratory findings are normal, hydrochloric acid therapy should be initiated irrespective of the laboratory findings.

If the use of HCl in the middle of the meal (Hydrozyme, HCL-Plus or Betaine Plus-HP) aggravates the subjective indications, do not assume that hydrochloric acid is not needed. Often this clinical picture is due to long-standing inflammation or gastric erosion caused by the lack of hydrochloric acid (the formation of sulfur compounds, lactic and pyruvic acid). If this is the case, a protocol to decrease gastric inflammation must first be used.

If the patient improves with HCl but, is unable to reduce the amount required to ameliorate the symptoms (even with dietary changes), a need for chloride (Celtic Sea salt), zinc and/or thiamine should be considered (all of these nutrients are required for the production of hydrochloric acid).

Heavy metals (especially aluminum, mercury, lead, and cadmium) will block the release of hydrochloric acid from the fundic cells, will oppose zinc, which is required for HCl production and will prevent the production of the energy required to produce HCl (mercury will inhibit the production of ATP).

The Small Intestine

After the food has been acted on in the acid medium of the stomach, it passes through the pyloric cap into the small intestine. Upon passing through the pyloric valve, hormonal messengers are released to stop the production of hydrochloric acid (enterogastrone) and to initiate the release of pancreatic enzymes (secretin) and bile (cholecystokinin) into the small intestine. In order for these hormonal messengers to be correctly released, the pH of the food passing through the pyloric valve must be 5.0 or less. You can now see why if the hydrochloric acid content of the stomach is not sufficient enough to completely acidify the food, the ability of the gallbladder and pancreas to neutralize the food (pancreatic enzymes and bile have a pH of about 8.0), are significantly reduced. The result is a significant reduction in the amount of nutrients that are able to be correctly absorbed across the small intestine barrier. The food (which is still acid) then creates inflammation in the small intestine, which results in any number of different problems such as allergy, colitis, etc.

 

The pancreas is further taxed in its ability to produce enzymes by the ingestion of excessive amounts of refined carbohydrates (they lack the trace elements and enzymes required to produce pancreatic enzymes).

The ability of the liver to produce bile, which is stored in the gallbladder, is reduced by excess hydrogenated fats, cooked foods, refined foods in general and xenobiotics that reduce or compromise the ability of the liver to detoxify.

Some of the subjective indications of small intestine problems (biliary and pancreatic) are:

  • An inability to tolerate greasy foods (gallbladder).
  • Pain between the shoulder blades (gall bladder).
  • Stools that are gray or light colored rather than brown (bile insufficiency).
  • Headaches over the eyes (gall bladder).
  • Tenderness in the web between the right thumb and fore finger (gall bladder).
  • Bitter or metallic taste in the mouth (gall bladder).
  • Bloating after meals may occur up to three hours after meals (gall bladder).
  • Inability to tolerate fruits or vegetables, especially lettuce (pancreas).
  • Particles of undigested vegetables seen in the stool (pancreas).
  • Inability to tolerate sweets (pancreas). Note: This symptom is also associated with anterior pituitary dysfunction.

Clinical Pearls for the use of biliary and pancreatic support:

Use Beta-TCP if the stools are not light colored and if the gall bladder has not been removed. If the gall bladder has been removed or the stools are light colored (indicating a need for additional bile), use Beta-Plus.

In any case where Livotrit-Plus, MCS or MCS-2 are used, always use Beta-TCP or Beta-Plus in conjunction with these two products. The use of Livotrit-Plus, MCS or MCS-2 will result in increased release of toxins from the liver and increased Phase II detoxification in the liver. If the bile is not sufficient or of the right consistency to remove the toxins, the toxins will simply be reabsorbed in the small intestine with a resulting increase in the patient’s symptoms.

With both pancreatic and biliary dysfunction, all fried foods, hydrogenated fats and oils and refined carbohydrates should be eliminated from the diet. With pancreatic problems, red meat, raw vegetables and raw fruit (including fruit juice), should be restricted until the problem is controlled. With severe pancreatitis, hospitalization with I.V. feeding is sometimes required to resolve the problem.

The Large Intestine

Problems occurring in the large intestine are often a result of a problem above the large intestine. For example, if the amount of hydrochloric acid is not sufficient to correctly acidify the food, it follows that the ability of the pancreas (enzymes) and liver (bile) to neutralize the acidity of the food will be compromised. The food that then passes into the large intestine has a lower pH than is normal. This results in bacterial imbalance in the colon and bacteria that are normally symbiotic (exist cooperatively) become antagonistic to one another. Bacteria and yeast such as E. coli, candida, moniliasis, etc., are then allowed to proliferate with resulting dysbiosis. Remember, with any digestive problem; always look at the problem from north to south. Often the problem that is manifesting itself in symptoms related to the colon (gas, diarrhea, constipation, etc.), are symptoms that are generated by a problem above (north) of the colon or small intestine (the stomach).

Clinical Pearls on the use of supplemental/dietary support for colon dysfunction:

Ensure the patient drinks at least eight (8) full glasses of pure water each day (well water and water containing fluoride and chlorine are not considered pure). If the patient is constipated consider the following: MG-Zyme – 4 tablets at bedtime, increasing by one tablet each night to bowel tolerance, Colon Plus Capsules – 4 capsules with each meal. One-half of a small white potato (sliced and salted with sea salt) at bedtime. If the patient has diarrhea consider the following: Florastor or Bio0Doph-7 Plus – 1 capsule with each meal, Colon Plus Capsules – 4 capsules with each meal and IPS – 2 capsules with each meal.

Clinical experience has shown that dairy products (casein) and wheat (gluten) are the two food substances most detrimental to patients with either constipation or diarrhea.

Always rule out primary thyroid hypofunction or thyroid hypofunction secondary to anterior pituitary hypofunction with constipation.

General Information on Digestive Functions

To increase Phase I detoxification in the liver consider ADHS. To decrease Phase I liver detoxification, consider grapefruit juice. Remember, if the patient is on a prescribed drug, increasing Phase I detoxification will often result in the patient being required to use more of the drug (the drug will clear the system faster).

For every case of digestive dysfunction where the colon or small intestine is found to be the major problem, you will find 10 times as many cases where the locus to the problem is the stomach (insufficient HCl production).

Sixty percent of the immune competent cells in our body begin their life cycle in the gut and this is probably a conservative estimate.

July 15th, 2010|Health Articles|