Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is normally secreted by the stomach to enhance the breakdown and subsequent absorption of the food and nutrients that we consume. HCl also serves a protective function, killing various pathogenic microorganisms that might otherwise cause infection in the gastrointestinal tract. Hydrochloric acid impacts your digestion significantly through these two factors – break down of food, and protection from external threats.
People with low HCl (hypochlorhydria) or absent HCl (achlorhydria) may be asymptomatic, or more commonly, may experience symptoms of impaired digestive function including gas, bloating and excessive fullness after meals. Interestingly, what seems to be excess acid in reflux or GERD is often a sign of low hydrochloric acid, but faulty regulation of the valve that divides the esophagus and stomach. [Read more…]