To be beautiful and vital, what is the first thing you must do?
Most people would guess that consuming a diet full of anti-oxidant rich fruits and vegetables is the correct answer. And they aren’t wrong – unless, of course, the person in question has a deficiency in digestive enzymes and/or hydrochloric acid.
Digestive enzymes – such as amylase, protease, and lipase – break down carbohydrates, protein, and fats respectively. Mostly produced by the pancreas, digestive enzyme function and production can be affected by a blood sugar disorder, alcohol abuse, aging, altered body pH, or mineral deficiency. Incomplete digestion of fats may also occur with gallbladder disturbance or removal. And what does this mean? Basically, food will not be broken down sufficiently for absorption.
And then there is hydrochloric acid, which is secreted by the stomach to help break down proteins, kill any unwanted pathogens, and help increase absorption of vitamin B12 via intrinsic factor. Hydrochloric acid deficiency occurs with aging, poor diet and stress. It results in increased small intestine bacterial overgrowth, an increased incidence in h. pylori infection, malabsorption of nutrients, and inflammation due to incompletely digested molecules crossing the intestinal barrier.
A deficiency in either digestive enzymes or hydrochloric acid can result in two main beauty saboteurs:
- Nutrients are not properly absorbed, resulting in nutrient deficiencies.
- Incompletely digested molecules can cross through the intestinal barrier into the bloodstream and cause inflammatory reactions in the body.
And these beauty saboteurs can manifest as digestion complaints, skin inflammation and blemishes, falling hair, weak nails, fatigue, allergies, muscle aches and pains, insomnia, etc.. The list goes on.
So how do you know if you are deficient? Clinical symptoms are a clue. Do you have gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, allergies, skin rashes, or falling hair (just a few of the symptoms)? Or, a comprehensive digestive stool analysis (CDSA) will tell you precisely where you stand with respect to digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid. Naturopathic doctors can also guide you through an HCL Challenge to determine your levels of HCL (hydrochloric acid).
And finally, how to solve? The optimal solution is to nourish and heal your body so that it starts to produce adequate amounts of both digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid on its own. This can be time consuming, and will undoubtedly require supplementation of both so that your body can absorb the proper nutrients to nourish and heal. Leaving you feeling revived, refreshed, and looking beautiful (of course).