Alternatives & Traditional

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The Stomach Acid is a Waste Product Myth

I have seen a number of people erroneously claiming stomach acid is not necessary to the body and is in fact a dangerous byproduct in the body.  The myth was traced back to a Dr. Young. An article promoting this myth is found on his FaceBook page: .

This article is addressing the various myths being promoted by Dr. Young and will explain the importance of stomach acid in the body.

Let’s start with the claim that the stomach does not digest food. Digestion starts in the mouth and continues in the stomach and throughout most of the intestine. Therefore, I am not really sure what he means by the stomach not digesting food. If that is the case then wouldn’t the same apply to the mouth and intestines since enzymes are working in all these areas to digest the food? So where does Dr. Young think digestion takes place if at all?

As for his claims about the stomach alkalizing food this just further backs my belief that Dr. Young DOES NOT understand human physiology. Alkalizing of the chyme occurs in the duodenum, not the stomach.

When we ingest food or liquids stomach acid is released for a variety of reasons.:

-Stomach acid is needed to kill ingested pathogens.

-Stomach acid is needed to acidify certain nutrients such as minerals and the vitamins B6, B12 and folate for absorption. These B vitamins are required for methylation, which is essential for about 4,000 processes in the body including the production of more stomach acid.

Methylation is also required to prevent cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease, build up neurotransmitters and hormones, support energy levels and the immune system, for cartilage synthesis, etc.

And a lack of stomach acid decreases the conversion of silica in to orthosilicic acid (OA). Declining stomach acid leads to decreases in OA, which in turn leads to many of the conditions associated with aging such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, emphysema, diverticulitis, wrinkles, etc.

-Stomach acid is required for the protein digestive enzyme pepsin to function. Without sufficient stomach acid the proteins fail to break down properly leaving protein solutes that can trigger off immune reactions.

I have a write up on the benefits of stomach acid here:

The chyme, which is a mixture of food or ingested liquids, stomach acid and enzymes is made acidic by the stomach acid for the above reasons. The chyme is then released in to the duodenum where pancreatic bicarbonate is released to neutralize the acids in the chyme. The duodenum IS NOT the stomach. The stomach only releases bicarbonate after digestion in the stomach is finished to neutralize whatever acid is left in the stomach since the stomach does not maintain a protective barrier 24 hours a day.

What really get me is how Dr. Young claims hydrochloric acid is a waste product when it is essential for many things in the body.

And he is wrong on most of what he claims the hydrochloric acid causes. Stomach acid DOES NOT cause indigestion nor reflux. A lack of stomach acid can cause these, which is why things that increase stomach acidity such as bitters, betaine HCl or vinegar are used to treat these conditions. See:

Excessive stomach acid (hyperchlorhydria) is actually so rare that it is almost unheard of. Especially since stomach acid levels naturally decline with age and most people are acid deficient after the age of 40.

It was once thought that excess stomach acid was a cause of stomach ulcers. That myth was disproven decades ago!!!!!

Stomach acid only causes stomach ulcers when the stomach’s protective lining is not there to protect the stomach, such as when nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, etc), celecoxib (Celebrex), naproxen (Naprosyn), etc. These drugs inhibit hormones known as prostaglandins. Most people familiar with these hormones know that some are associated with inflammation since they dilate blood vessels, which can lead to leakage. But these hormones are also required for the production of the stomach’s protective lining.

If Dr. Young understood ulcer formation he would also know that the most common cause of ulcers is the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, which secretes highly alkaline and toxic ammonia to neutralize the stomach acid that would otherwise kill the bacteria.

Helicobacter pylori is also a primary cause of stomach cancer. Stomach cancer risk has been found to have a direct correlation to low or absent stomach acid, which is contrary to Dr, Young’s claim.

His claims in number 5 are simply laughable!!!!!

Apparently Dr. Young is also unaware of the fact that stomach acid is released with the ingestion of any food or liquid. Even the though of food can stimulate stomach acid release. This DOES NOT occur only with animal protein sources as he implies.

Then there is his contradiction. He claims earlier that the bicarbonate and the acid are produced in equal parts. But then he claims that as the stomach acid is released the bicarbonate is released in to the stomach to neutralize the acid thus inducing alkalosis and using up the alkaline reserves. First of all none of this is true. Then he continues with claiming the hydrochloric acid is taken up by the blood lowering the plasma pH, which is also complete nonsense. If that really happened we would all be dead. So how does he explain the alkaline reserves being depleted while there is still an excess of acid supposedly entering the bloodstream if they were produced equally? Using some common sense should tell him that if these two compounds are formed in equal amounts then this would also mean that the depletion of sodium bicarbonate would also mean a complete depletion of the stomach acid. In other words, if the salt forms one unit of bicarbonate and one unit of hydrochloric acid and one unit of bicarbonate will neutralize one unit of hydrochloric acid that would mean that a depletion of the bicarbonate reserves would mean a complete neutralization of ALL the stomach acid. In fact, this does not even take in to account the compounds in our diet that will neutralize the stomach acid such as carbonates, alkaloids, etc. in the diet that all neutralize acid. Therefore, the stomach acid would be depleted long before the bicarbonate. So where is all this hydrochloric acid coming from that is supposedly entering the bloodstream according to his bogus claims?

If Dr. Young really understood human physiology then he would also know that acid buffering bicarbonate is released in to the blood by parietal cells during stomach acid secretion leading to ALKALINITY of the blood, not acidosis as he claims. He should research the “alkaline tide”. Alkalizing bicarbonate is also produce in the blood. So again, how is acidosis occurring when stomach acid never enters the blood and even if it did the acid would be neutralized by the bicarbonate and the body’s pH would still be maintained through respiration and kidney function?

In fact, it is not the acid that is the danger as he claims, it is the base that has to be dealt with. See:

Then Dr Young refers to the Pishinger’s space as an “organ” when it is not an organ. A space is not an organ. Furthermore, if you look up Pishinger’s space the only sites that come up are the ones repeating his claims.

Dr. Young also refers to the acids from cells as waste again when in fact they are required for our health and existence.

Then Dr. Young claims there is no mention of any organs that store acids from metabolism and diet. So what? There is no reason to store these acids since they are utilized by the immediately. For example, we produce carbonic acid continually, which serves numerous purposes such as to buffer highly alkaline and highly toxic ammonia, to maintain circulation, to allow oxygen release from hemoglobin, to form more stomach acid for proper digestion and absorption, and for the production of bicarbonate!!!! Come on, this is BASIC human physiology he is not grasping!!!!!!

Then Dr. Young falsely claims the kidneys store acids. The kidney IS NOT a storage organ and DOES NOT store acids.

Dr. Young then goes on to falsely claim these acids are buffered then eliminated via the skin, urinary tract and bowels. See the contradiction in his claims? If the bicarbonate buffers were used up by stomach acid leading to an increase of hydrochloric acid in the blood leading to acidosis as he claims then where is the bicarbonate buffers coming from that are supposedly buffering those acids? There are no other buffers in the blood. And if there were they would be used up by the hydrochloric acid in the blood if t really made it in to the blood which according to Dr. Young is causing acidosis. How can you buffer the metabolism acids if acidosis is present? The answer is you cannot. Yet this is what Dr. Young is claiming. So not only does he need to learn some human physiology, he also needs to learn some basic chemistry.

Dr. Young contradicts himself yet again with claim number 7. If a high animal protein meal caused acidosis as he falsely claims then the excess hydrogen ions from the acidosis he claims would be excreted through the kidneys causing ACIDIC, not alkaline urine. Then Dr. Young goes on to claim a base being excreted in the urine, which is the alkalinity. So where is this Base coming from? Again that base would have to be bicarbonate, which he claims earlier is depleted by the hydrochloric acid. So again, where is this base coming from if his claim were true?

Dr. Young’s myth about tissue acidosis leading to disease has already been addressed a number of times. The vast majority of diseases arise in an alkaline, not acidic environment.

On claim 8 Dr. Young talks about lactic acid during heavy exercise that in order to be absorbed by the collagen fibers as he falsely claims would have to be excreted. The lactic acid being excreted by muscles during heavy exercise myth was disproven decades ago!!!! During heavy exercise non-acidic lactate is formed, which IS NOT the same thing as lactic acid even though the terms get used interchangeably frequently. The burning sensation people feel IS NOT from lactic acid but rather an excess of hydrogen ions (protons).

Same with Dr. Young’s false claim that the lactic acid is stored in the tissues. How can this be occurring when no lactic acid is secreted from cells?

Dr. Young’s claim in 9 starts out bogus then gets outright bizarre where he refers to alkaliphile glands. Alkaliphiles are microorganisms, NOT glands!!!! So it looks like he is making up his own terms along with his “facts”.

In claim 9 Dr. young further incorrectly states that the body’s alkaline reserve status can be determined by blood or urinary pH testing. This is totally ludicrous!!!!! Salivary pH is affected by the amount of bacteria in the mouth so things such as brushing your teeth will make the saliva more alkaline. So will drinking water, thinking of certain foods, etc. Dry mouth increases acidity as alkaline saliva normally washes away acid forming bacteria in the mouth. Urinary pH is affected by hydration levels, certain supplements and medications and by bacteria in the urine. Urinary tract infections lead to highly alkaline urine as the bacteria use the enzyme urease to split urea in to highly alkaline ammonia. The alkalinity helps the bacteria, as with most pathogens, to survive.

Claim 10 starts out right away with a major error since this IS NOT how the blood pH is maintained. Again, pH is maintained through respiration and kidney retention or elimination of hydrogen ions (protons). If the acids were being pushed in to the connective tissues or spaces

And how can the blood give the urine the same amount of acidity if the tissues, such as the kidneys store the acids as Dr. Young claims?

Urinary pH DOES NOT reflect tissue pH. Tissue pH is maintained by the blood, which again does not reflect in urinary pH.

In claim 11 he refers again to “alkaliphile organs”. Again alkaliphiles ARE NOT glands, they are microbes.

Next Dr. Young refers to hyperproteinization leading to people looking like prunes as they age. More garbage!!! Wrinkles are the result of a lack of orthosilicic acid and/or ascorbic acid, which in turn leads to a loss of collagen and elastin in the skin. Orthosilicic acid loss occurs from a DECLINE in stomach acid since stomach acid aids in the conversion of silica in to the usable orthosilicic acid.

Apparently Dr. Young does not understand ORP either. Without going in to long explanation ORP is simply a sales tool often misrepresented to sell products. It DOES NOT measure all the antioxidants of the body.

In claim 12 Dr. Young talks about the acids being stored again, which is not true, the alkaline reserves being depleted that again is not true and again contradicts Dr. Young’s other claim of acids being excreted in to the urine at the same amount that is going in to the blood. Again, how can X amount of acid enter the blood and X amount be excreted in the urine if Y amount of acid from X is being stored in the tissues?

Most of the claims up to number 18 are just regurgitated proven wrong already claims.

I find it interesting in claim 18 though that Dr. Young mentions pH regulation by respiration and by the kidneys. If he is aware of these pH regulators then he should also be aware of the fact that this goes against his claim about HCl entering the blood leading to acidosis. Even if it were true that the acid could enter the blood the body responds to even the slightest shift in pH by adjusting respiration to either increase or decrease the pH of the blood. Since there are no reserves involved there are no reserves to be depleted as he claims. Same for kidney function, which is the second primary means of pH regulation.

Claim 20 does not make any sense either. Sodium bicarbonate IS NOT reabsorbed. It is neutralized by acid. The blood maintains bicarbonate levels, not sodium bicarbonate in the blood. Note that he even points this out in claim 21 where it states “CO2 + H2O = H2CO3 = HCO3 + H+”. Where is the sodium (Na)? It’s not there because he is talking about the blood bicarbonate, not sodium bicarbonate that he is incorrectly claiming is absorbed back in to the bloodstream.

In claim 22 Dr. Young claims ammonia is trapped and concentrated in the kidney. Again, the kidney DOES NOT store things, especially highly alkaline and highly toxic ammonia that would kill the tissues if it built up like Dr. Young is claiming.

In claim 23 Dr. Young claims and 90% of the carbon dioxide is used by the body to “reabsorb alkaline minerals and make sodium bicarbonate for buffering gastrointestinal and metabolic acids.” What is needed to absorb these alkaline minerals? STOMACH ACID!!!!! So once again Dr. Young is contradicting himself.

In claim 24 Dr, Young states: “Of all the ways the body can buffer metabolic and dietary acids, the excretion of protein (the eating of meat and cheese) generated acid residues is the only process that does not add sodium bicarbonate back into blood circulation. “.

First of all as pointed out sodium bicarbonate is neutralized by the acids, not reabsorbed in to the bloodstream. Blood bicarbonate (note not sodium bicarbonate) is formed in the blood from carbonic acid.

Secondly, what else is needed for sodium bicarbonate production? Sodium chloride salt, which is abundant in meats and dairy. So again his claims are contradictory.

At least in claim 25 Dr. Young gets something right when he states “Human Body is an acid producing organism by function”. The body is composed of acids, runs on acids, requires acids to maintain circulation and oxygen delivery, for maintaining health and tissues, for detoxification, etc.

What Dr. Young does not seem to understand is the fact that we cannot live or even exist without acids. Or the fact that ALL foods are metabolized in to acids, not just animal proteins.

-James Sloane

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.

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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