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April 2001 (Page Two)
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     enzymes in your saliva, can begin digesting those foods in your stomach. This "pre-digestion" can continue for thirty to sixty minutes before you produce enough hydrochloric acid to begin its work. Unfortunately, as we age we tend to produce less hydrochloric acid.
     Pre-digestion helps reduce your body's requirements to make extra enzymes to digest your food. Up to 10% of the fats, 30% of the proteins, and 60% of the starches in a meal can be pre-digested in your stomach without your body having to do anything except provide warmth and moisture. Any help you can receive to conserve and preserve your own enzymes can only improve your enzyme potential and your overall quality of life.
     Once the food in your stomach has reached the correct consistency and a low enough pH or acidity, it is ready to move on to your small intestine. Here digestive juices from your pancreas and bile from your gall bladder mix with the foods from your stomach, raise its pH, make it more alkaline, and begin the final stages of digestion. Interestingly, any naturally occurring enzymes in your foods or any supplemental enzymes that you take with your meal that are inactivated by the acidity in your stomach can now begin to work again as the pH in your small intestine rises.
Poor Digestion
     What happens when your digestion does not occur adequately and completely? Some of the more typical symptoms include heartburn, bloating, indigestion, headaches, fatigue, lethargy, bowel problems, allergies, mood changes, anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, muscle, bone and joint aches and pains, inflammation, swelling, and a host of other problems for which most people take over-the-counter and prescriptive medications to alleviate symptoms but never correct the underlying problem.
     Symptoms like these are at an epidemic level in this country. The response is a multi-billion dollar industry of pharmaceutical drugs and other remedies constantly touted in TV commercials as the magic bullets that can cure what ails you and allow you to continue abusing your body's digestion. All those chemical solutions work, but all of them have side effects.
     Simply alleviating symptoms can eventually result in a worse condition than the original problem. Acid indigestion is a great example. How many of you take, or know someone who takes, antacids regularly? How many were told to take antacids by their doctors and even, in some cases, use them as a source of calcium? Antacids are a major contributing cause of poor and inadequate digestion.
     Your body requires acid, produced in your stomach, to complete the digestion of proteins and help ionize your minerals so they can be properly absorbed and transported to your cells. When you take antacids you grossly decrease your ability to digest proteins and absorb minerals, especially calcium. Without protein your body cannot produce enough mucous. Mucous, secreted by the cells lining your stomach, protects your stomach from acid. Without calcium, and other minerals, your body cannot maintain proper bone and joint function.
     It makes very little sense to take antacids to reduce stomach acidity when that very acid is essential to, not only the proper health and function of your stomach but also, the ultimate health and function of your entire body. Long-term use of antacids will inevitably lead to a diminished ability to digest properly. This will result in the myriad of health problems associated with protein and mineral deficiencies.
     Natural solutions, with no side effects, for these and other digestive problems will be covered next time
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