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A normal healthy persons resting Stomach contains appreciable amounts of free Hydrochloric Acid, which substantially increases when the body is challenged to digest a meal. The type of foods eaten, nervous system integrity (Stress or lack of Stress), micronutrient levels, structural alignment, and autonomic nervous system, influence stomach acidity. In general, free acid (HCL) is present in an adequate concentration to maintain a pH between 1pH and 2pH in the stomach.
Typically, digestion of food in the stomach is divided into two Phases; however both phases represent an integrated whole that overlap and mutually support each other. The Cephalic phase of digestion refers to digestive activities dependent upon feedback and control occurring in the Brain. In this phase, sight, odors, or even the thought of food can stimulate the secretion of a small amount of Gastric Juice. Food placed in the mouth will substantially increase Gastric secretions, preparing the stomach to receive the food. This increase is cause by the Cephalic phase of digestion and accounts for 10% of the total volume of gastric fluid. The second phase, the Gastric phase of digestion, is regulated by stretch receptors, which sense the arrival of food in the stomach, and by Chemoreceptor’s, which sense the presence of dietary Peptides. About 80% of all Gastric Juice is secreted during this phase.
The hormone, Gastrin is secreted by the stomach into the blood in response to the ingestion of foods, particularly dietary Peptides. Gastrin secretion is also enhanced by vagal stimulation, and local activation of the stretch receptors. Gastrin has a dual effect on digestion: it stimulates the Parietal cells to secrete HCL, and promotes contraction of the smooth muscles responsible for Peristalsis. Gastrin also has an influence on maintaining the tone of the lower Esophageal Sphincter, which prevents the reflux of stomach contents into the Esophagus.
Gastric secretions in the stomach consist of protective Mucus, Pepsionogen, and HCL. Pepsin functions as a Proteolytic Enzyme, degrading food Proteins into smaller Peptides. It is most active at a pH of 1.0 to 1.8 pH, and is completely inactive in a neutral or alkaline pH.
In the stomach, HCL’s primary function is to maintain a sterile environment, and to initiate the conversion of Pepsionogen to Pepsin. The result is a thick congealed mass called Chyme, which is a prerequisite for good conversion and absorption, as it passes from the stomach to the Duodenum, and Small Bowel. Hydrochloric Acid must be present in sufficient quantities in the stomach to sterilize the orally-ingested Pathogens, which prevents Bacterial, or Fungal overgrowth in the Small Intestine. HCL also encourages the flow of Bile and Pancreatic Enzymes to facilitate absorption and subsequent conversion.