Common Digestive Disorders
The most common thing which goes wrong is hypochlorhydria. It is impossible to overemphasize the subtle yet devastating
results of hypochlorhydria, or underproduction of stomach acid. The entire digestive process depends on a healthy load of
acid being dumped on food when it arrives in the stomach. If this does not happen, protein digestion is incomplete.
Remember that acid is necessary to trigger secretin release from the duodenum, which, in turn, provokes the pancreas to
produce lipase, proteinase and amylase. If acid is deficient, this response is muted, and digestion of not only protein, but also
fat and carbohydrate is compromised.
The presence of undigested food causes an overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria in the lower small intestine and in the colon.
The toxins produced by these bacteria are absorbed, and the liver works overtime trying to straighten out the situation. The
final result is poor digestion and inadequate absorption of nutrients (even in the face of a healthy diet) and also a toxic
condition caused by overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria (a condition called "dysbiosis"). Many symptoms result from this
toxicity: headaches, fatigue, hypertension, gas, muscle aches and pain, insomnia, personality changes, irritation and more.
The frequency of hypochlorhydria in the population is fifteen percent. Among people who feel sufficiently ill to show up at a
doctor’s office, fully fifty percent are affected. By age forty, forty percent of all people are affected, and by age sixty, fifty
percent have hypochlorhydria. A person over age forty who comes to a doctor’s office has about a ninety percent
probability of having hypochlorhydria. It is easily the most under-diagnosed and misdiagnosed condition in medicine. See
hypochlorhydria for more detail.
The pancreas is, as the acid producing parietal cells of the stomach also are, especially sensitive to toxins. One of the toxins
to which the pancreas is especially sensitive is alcohol. Many people are unable to fully digest their food, because the
pancreas is not producing sufficient amylase, lipase and proteinase. This is diagnosed by measuring circulating levels of these
enzymes and also by stool analysis for completeness of digestion.
When the liver is damaged, it ceases to put out a healthy complement of bile salts, and this causes a failure of emulsification
of fats leading to poor digestion of fats.
The frequently overlooked colon is equally important to health as any of the other organs of digestion. With age, a low fiber
diet and low intake of water, it may slow down and stasis of food occurs, thereby allowing unfriendly bacteria to multiply,
producing toxic material which leads to fatigue, headache, anxiety, insomnia, etc.
Butyric acid is a substance which serves as the energy source for the cells of the colon, so ingestion of this substance tends to
regenerate a tired colon. Also, colon therapy is valuable to help the colon; but unless more fiber and water is presented to
the colon, colon therapy will be of only temporary benefit. There is a variety of plant derived colon stimulants, such as aloe
vera leaves, which serve to power up the colon. Psyllium husks (not powder) are an excellent source of supplementary fiber.
There is a variety of other, much more uncommon conditions, which can affect digestion, but I will omit them here and stick
to those conditions which are so common as to be accepted by the medical establishment as normal, or at least not worthy
I believe that poor digestion is behind most of the diseases of aging — including cancer and vascular disease. Genetics may
play a role, but something like a five percent role compared to a 95% role played by food selection and life style emphasizing
exercise, rest, nutritional supplementation, and perfect digestion. I also believe that much of the degeneration of the endocrine
glands is related to poor digestion. Nothing could be more important to the prevention of abnormal and normal aging than
attention to the efficiency of digestion. See Anti-aging Medicine