Alternatives & Traditional

Posts tagged ‘carbonate’

The Benefits of Stomach Acid

Stomach acid is present to:

1. Help protect the body from pathogens that would otherwise enter through the digestive system.  Many pathogenic bacteria, such as E.  coli and H. pylori THRIVE in an alkaline environment.  This is why E. coli lives in the alkaline environment of the intestines and H.  pylori secretes ammonia to neutralize stomach acid to protect itself.  Reducing stomach acid just makes it that much easier for these pathogens to set up shop in the body where they DO NOT belong. 

 2. To allow for the absorption of minerals as non-chelated minerals are reacted with the acid to convert them in to absorbable salts.  

3. Reduction of acid reflux, which results from the lack of stomach acid.  A lack of stomach acid leads to fermentation by yeast overgrowth in the stomach and by fermentation of foods not being digested properly.  The resultant gas formation builds up in the stomach and is eventually rapidly released up the esophagus carrying traces of acid with it.  

4. To allow for the proper digestion of proteins.  The digestive enzyme pepsin cannot work without sufficient levels of hydrochloric acid (stomach acid).  When  proteins are not broken down properly the intact proteins can enter the bloodstream forming antigens.  This in turn can lead to serious and even life threatening allergic reactions.

 5. Absorption of vitamins.  The B vitamins B6, B12 and folate in particular are dependent on sufficient stomach acid for absorption.  Stomach acid levels decline though with age naturally.  This is why deficiencies of B6, B12 and folate are so common in the elderly.  

6. Conversion of silica to orthosilicic acid for use by the body.  Silica is essential for the formation of collagen, elastin, and chondroitin.  Without sufficient silica we develop numerous conditions including osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, heart disease, emphysema, diverticulitis, etc.  Even wrinkles and cellulite can result from a loss of silica leading to a reduction of the structural proteins collagen and elastin.  In order for silica to be absorbed and utilized it must first be converted in to orthosilicic acid.  This occurs from a reaction between silica and water, but the process is greatly enhanced by the presence of an acid.  The primary acid for this conversion is stomach acid. 

As I mentioned before stomach acid DECLINES with age.  This leads to a drop in the conversion of silica in to orthosilicic acid, and therefore a loss of collagen, elastin, and chondroitin production as we age.  Now go back and look at the symptoms that develop from the loss of these structural proteins.  Notice how these are not seen in younger people but are common in the elderly?  So why do we see this in the elderly?  Because the lack of stomach acid interferes with the absorption of nutrients needed for the production of structural proteins.  These nutrients include silica, zinc, copper and amino acids. 

As we can see if you want to speed up the production of “age-related disorders” a simple way is to do this is to neutralize your stomach acid.

It should be noted that most of the nutrients needed to form stomach acid are acid dependant for absorption.  Therefore the lack of stomach acid leads to further declines in stomach acid, leading to less absorption of stomach acid forming nutrients, leading to less stomach acid formation………   It is a vicious cycle downhill once started.  Therefore I recommend avoiding antacids, acid blockers also known as proton pump inhibitors, alkaline waters, calcium carbonate (coral, oyster shell, dolomite), calcium oxide/hydroxide (lime) and magnesium oxide/hydroxide.

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Calcium from Coral

I do not recommend calcium from coral.  The chemistry of coral it is not that much different from oyster shell, which is a lot cheaper.  Both coral and oyster shells contain minerals and trace minerals extracted from the water.  In addition,  both coral and oyster  shell are composed primarily of calcium carbonate, which is one of the least absorbed forms of calcium available.  Its popularity among manufacturers is only due to calcium carbonate being the cheapest form of supplemental calcium available.

Coral is a colony of living animals, called polyps.  As fish respirate they release carbon dioxide into the water, which reacts with calcium to form calcium carbonate.  The polyps extract the calcium carbonate from the water to cement themselves to a hard surface.  New polyps then cement themselves to the old dead polyps and the cycle continues causing the coral to grow.  In the process other minerals are extracted from the water.  The primary component of coral though  still remains calcium carbonate.

The big problem with calcium carbonate is that it is very alkaline and neutralizes acids.  With the big push to alkalize this may sound good at first.  Parts of the body need to be acid though and excess alkalinity (alkalosis) is a dangerous condition.

The biggest concern here is the stomach, which definitely needs to be acidic.  The stomach needs to be acidic actually for several reasons.  For instance in order to digest proteins the body uses an enzyme called pepsin.  Pepsin cannot work without sufficient stomach acid being present.  When stomach acid is in short supply partially digested proteins can be absorbed triggering off allergic responses.   Certain vitamins such as vitamin B6, B12 and folate cannot be absorbed from the gut either unless there is sufficient stomach acid.  Stomach acid levels naturally decline though with age, which is why deficiencies of these vitamins  are common in the elderly.  Without these vitamins a process known as methylation is reduced leading to increased risk of heart disease, allergies, low immunity, decreased energy, etc.  Another problem is that many minerals cannot be absorbed unless there is sufficient stomach acid or food acids present or unless they are pre-acidified.  By neutralizing stomach acid, carbonates actually interfere with the absorption of minerals such as calcium and the even more importantly silica.

Silica is the most important nutrient for bone health.  It is also essential for healthy hair, nails, teeth, tendons, ligaments, arteries, etc.  Silica deficiencies are also responsible for wrinkle formation since silica is essential for elastin formation, which helps keep the skin from sagging leading to wrinkles.

Another very important purpose of stomach acid is to control the growth of microbes such as bacteria and Candida fungi in the stomach since most are killed or controlled by acidity.  Therefore, as stomach acid levels decline the risk of infection increases.  For example, the most common cause of heartburn is a lack of stomach acid leading to increased fermentation in the stomach.  This is in part due to increased time the food remains in the stomach, but also from microbial overgrowth in the stomach as acid levels decrease.  Fermentation leads to gas formation that puts pressure on the stomach’s lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle.  The resulting pressure tires out the LES muscle at the top of the stomach and it gives way allowing the gas to escape up the esophagus.  When this happens, traces of acid go with the gas causing the heartburn.  Unfortunately the medical community is still stuck on the long outdated idea that excessive stomach acid causes heartburn and they do not bother to read their own medical texts.  Excessive stomach acid, a condition known as hyperchlorrhydria, is considered extremely rare.  Yet antacids and acid blockers, which cover up the symptoms while making the underlying problem worse are the second largest selling drug class.  One of these compounds commonly used to neutralize stomach acid is calcium carbonate, such as Tums.  As with Tums, coral again is primarily calcium carbonate.  Stomach acid is the first thing the carbonate in the coral is going to come into contact with.  This neutralizes the stomach acid and the carbonate gets used up in the process leaving no carbonate to alkalize the blood unless taken in excessive amounts.  Because stomach acid is so important, this is a real bad idea!  The best way to get around this problem is to get your minerals from food or herbs.  Minerals in plants are naturally chelated, which means they are bound to proteins.  Being bound to proteins the body will accept these sources like foods and the proteins help chaperone the minerals into the body where they are separated and can do their job without neutralizing the stomach acid.

There are actually different chemical compositions in the corals taken from above the water and below the water.  The below water coral has more nutrients.  This is in part due to what else is in it.  The below water coral is actually coral sand dredged from the bottom.  Therefore, it not only is the broken down coral being sucked up but also any little plants and animals in the sand.  The above water coral has been weathered and leached of many of its minerals.

In short, there are better choices for calcium than coral.  For instance, if you want a great source of calcium and trace minerals then you could use Atlantic kelp, which not only contains these minerals but also vitamins, which are not found in coral.  Seaweeds contain algins, which bind with heavy metals such as those found in the coral and the seaweeds themselves.  By binding with the heavy metals algins pull these heavy metals from the body.  Coral and colloidal minerals from shale deposits being sold as “plant derived” cannot do this.

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