The first of our 6 keys to protecting your brain is managing your acid. This, quite simply, is one of the most important things you can do for your health in general, and your brain in particular. Normalizing acid in the body is absolutely critical for you to be healthy!
Now when we talk about acid it is important to introduce the two types of “acid” we are considering. One type of acid is good…and you want it. The other type of acid is bad and will rob you of your health.
The two acid types I want to differentiate for you are:
- Stomach Acid
- Metabolic Acid
Patients sometimes get confused because we talk about, and they hear about, reducing overall body acid. Most people are familiar with the concept that eating more vegetables, for example, makes you less acid. Then we will talk about ensuring that a person has enough stomach acid. These are two different items that are important to differentiate.
Without a doubt, ensuring you have adequate levels of stomach acid is one of the most important things you can start managing. Stomach acid is extremely critical for sterilization of food, absorption of minerals, keeping healthy levels of gut bacteria, ensuring proper peristalsis and much more. As a matter of fact, Dr. Jonathan Wright wrote a wonderful book that goes through all the reasons why stomach acid is good for you.
Unfortunately, too many people are told that their symptoms of acid reflux are due to too much stomach acid. This is very, very rarely the case. As a matter of fact, most cases of acid reflux are caused by not enough stomach acid! I don’t have time to go into all the details in this post, but for now you can read more from Dr. Wright, or check out a webinar I did a while back explaining this.
One simple way that you can measure whether you need additional stomach acid or not, is to use a challenge with betaine HCl. I use a product called Metagest. (If you want to order some for yourself, you can click here for instructions on setting up an account).
If you want to do this test at home it is very simple and can prove to have profound improvements on your health if you are deficient in stomach acid.
Start with 1 Metagest taken at the end of the meal. Observe whether you have any symptoms such as a warm sensation. It would feel much like it would after drinking a cup of ginger tea. If this occurs you do not need additional stomach acid support at this time.
However, if you feel no warm sensation then the next meal, or the next day, take 2 Metagest at the end of the meal. You would continue this up to a maximum of 6 tablets. Whichever number of tablets gives you a warming sensation would be the maximum and you should take one less than this at the end of each meal.
If you have a lot of symptoms of bloat then the Metagest supplementation can have significant improvement on your digestion. Now, please be aware, that if you get burning with 1 tablet and have a lot of digestive complaints then it may not be that you have enough stomach acid, but it could be that your stomach is too inflamed, you have an H pylori infection, or something else that needs to be addressed before taking additional betaine HCl support.
The other type of acid, the “bad” acid, is a by-product of just living. The process of breathing produces large quantities of metabolic acid by-products. These acids must be buffered by the body. Failure to adequately buffer with nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, etc leads to tremendous damage to your cells and tissues.
Being overly acid, metabolically speaking, places you at risk of cancer. Acid robs your cells of oxygen. Cancer needs three things in order to survive: low oxygen, low nutrients and high acid. Two of these three criteria are affected with poorly managed body acid burden.
High levels of body acid can compromise your ability to eliminate toxins and can lead to brain degeneration and chronic musculoskeletal pain.
You must buffer your acid!
There is an extremely easy way that you can measure your acid burden at home using some pH strips and lemon juice. I have tested this thousands of times with my patients and have taught them to test this at home as well. When the results of this test are in the accepted normal ranges, people feel great! It’s an easy way to track your body burden of acid at home and then make appropriate changes in diet and lifestyle.
Performing the Lemon Juice – Saliva pH Challenge
- Mix 1 tablespoon of distilled water with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. (may be fresh squeezed or use bottle of Real Lemon juice)
- Use standard pH strips. I have patients just use these since they are convenient and have the visual score card included in the small envelope.
- Measure the pH of your first morning saliva. This should be done before you have put anything in your mouth or on your lips. Work up a pool of saliva on the tip of your tongue, dip the pH strip on your tongue and observe the color change immediately. Record this number.
- Next, put the lemon juice / water mix in your mouth and swish for a few seconds. Swallow completely and swallow a couple of more times. Recheck your saliva pH and record results immediately.
- Set a timer and recheck your saliva pH every minute for the next 5 minutes.
Optimal Results for the pH Challenge
Baseline saliva pH – (6.5-6.8) too low can be a sign of a hiatal hernia or acid reflux (do Metagest challenge) and too high can be compromised pancreatic enzyme function.
Lemon Juice saliva pH– (5.5) too high is a sign of increased sympathetic nervous system stress
1 minute saliva pH – (6.0) too high is a sign of increased sympathetic nervous system stress
2 minutes – 5 minutes saliva pH – This should slowly increase to be 7.4-7.6 at the end of 5 minutes. If your values are too low at the end of 5 minutes you have a compromised buffering of your acid and have too much metabolic acid.
One of the worst scenarios to see would be a low saliva pH that does not change throughout the testing. This is severe cell stagnation and should be treated aggressively with alkalizing nutrients and lifestyle changes.
If you are overly acidic a medically supervised detoxification program with medical foods would be very helpful. You can also use phytonutrient rich super food drink mixes such as Dynamic Fruits and Greens.
Be patient! It can take a while to normalize your stomach acid and reduce your body burden of acid. The results can be amazing and the improved mental clarity, higher energy and calmer digestion make the process worth it!