HCL is paramount in our digestive process. It begins the digestion of protein and stimulates the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes and bile. Without enough of these two substances, we cannot adequately digest or absorb carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. When we don’t digest foods well, there may be three results:
1) We don’t get the nutrition we need.
2) Badly digested foods continue through the digestive tract. Some of the larger molecules flow through the intestine into the bloodstream. (The inflamed intestines noted above make this easier.) These larger molecules are seen as invaders by the immune system and are attacked. The result is food allergies. It is estimated that 80 percent of patients with food allergies suffer from some degree of impaired hydrochloric acid secretion in the stomach.
3) Foods linger for much longer than they should in the digestive system, resulting in an overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria in the small intestine and colon. When these bad bacteria begin to outnumber the good bacteria, a condition known as dysbiosis exists. According to Elizabeth Lipski, M.S., C.C.N., in her book, Digestive Wellness, dysbiosis may result in such diverse conditions as arthritis, autoimmune disease, vitamin B12 deficiency, chronic fatigue syndrome, eczema, food allergies and food sensitivities, inflammatory bowel disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.
In other words, a shortage of HCL can have dire consequences.