Let’s Get Started With Digestion – or Indigestion?

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Let’s Get Started With Digestion – or Indigestion?

Think about this: “A fatigued body = fatigued digestion.” 

Your digestion plays an important role in your energy and overall wellness, yet you require a large amount of energy to digest your food. A first step in the digestive process is to chew food well as it induces the release of enzymes and stomach acid needed for digestion. Digestion of starches begins in the mouth and proper chewing stimulates the release of enzymes, stomach acid and bile acids down the digestive chain.

Stomach acid is the first line of digestive defense and immune support against food-borne pathogens. It is protective (but too much or a lack of staomach acid can create problems). The hydrochloric acid is part of our immune system as it neutralizes harmful microbes such as parasites or salmonella that enter our bodies with foods. This aspect of protection is often neglected and any acid-blocking medication blocks this protective aspect.

Hydrochloric acid with an optimal pH between 1 and 3 is essential to facilitate the absorption of minerals including calcium, zinc and magnesium, and proteins from foods. We need those, all of them, for our bones, thyroid, teeth, nails and hair. With a lack of digestive enzymes and stomach acid (HCL), you will have difficulty breaking own foods, especially proteins, and that creates symptoms of indigestion, bloating and acid reflux.

Protein digestion requires a low pH in the stomach – and this is a main reason why I recommend not drinking water or excessive liquids with meals, as that dilutes often already low levels of HCL.

With a lack of stomach acid, undigested proteins putrefy in the stomach creating an acid that is very harmful to the stomach and the esophagus, lead to inflammation, reflux symptoms and distress – even respiratory symptoms too. As the oesphagus and trachea are closely connected, and seeing digestive ailments in conjunction with respiratory ailments is not uncommon today. You may feel like you are having too much acid with burning discomfort. It is problematic and it must be addressed to prevent formation of harmful and painful ulcers. Rather than resorting to the use of long-term acid blocking medications, it is better to investigate why there are insufficient or too high levels of stomach acid to begin with.

Short-term palliative care with an ant-acid might be helpful in a crisis situation to prevent serious tissue damage while root causes are being investigated. At the same time digestive enzyme support must be considered to optimize absorption, while the upper GI is in crisis mode.

Sadly conventional gastroenterology still relies heavily on long-term acid blocking medications and antibiotic use that might alleviate and suppress digestive comfort, but those cause more side effects and digestive dysfunction in the long run. Root causes of any indigestion must be investigated instead of resorting to long-term use acid-blocking medications.

After hidden infections have been ruled out, it might be prudent to consider using digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid to support digestive function. Basic food eliminations including coffee, gluten, soy, dairy, spicy foods and sugars all are helpful, and the use of any current medications, especially pain medications, must also be considered as possible triggers. Gut healing is a long-term process best done in conjunction with a knowledgeable nutrition guide, as there are various components that are best addressed all together for a better result.

 “Having a car with a new paint job, a new oil filter and a tuned-up engine will not get you anywhere if your car only has two wheels and no gas pedal. All parts matter so you can move forward in your healing journey. “ Rika K.

Genetics play an important part, especially when a genetic factor such as undiagnosed Celiac Disease is in play. This disease is rapidly on the increase and it can be tested with a blood test. As gluten and gliadin containing foods are known triggers for gut and brain problems, it is best to avoid gluten containing foods when dealing with Chronic Lyme–related infections.

The Digestive Enzyme Dilemma: Plant Or Animal Based: Which One is Best?

When it comes to digestive enzymes, there are plant-based enzymes and animal-sourced enzymes that can be considered. Different digestive enzymes perform different functions plus they are sensitive to the pH in the gut and to your dietary choices. Enzymes that break down proteins, carbs and fats in our foods include pepsin, maltase, trypsin, chymotrypsin and lipase. (Just to be very clear, I am discussing digestive enzymes and not proteolytic enzymes used for biofilm disruption in chronic Lyme.)

Plant-based digestive enzymes are active within a broader range of pH levels in comparison to animal-sourced enzymes. They are primarily involved in breaking down vegetables and fruit fibers in the gut, compared to animal-sourced proteins that are helpful with the breakdown of animal proteins. Do check the sourcing of digestive enzymes as some can be sourced from soy or barley or pineapple or papaya, which might not agree with you. Choose companies that are allergen-free, because the addition of unkown allergic burden could make it even more difficult to isolate what is irritating your gut.

Animal-sourced enzymes come from pancreatic or stomach enzymes in cows, lamb or pigs. Check your supplement, as sourcing and quality matter. These are metabolic enzymes and pancreatin contains the enzymes called proteases, amylases and lipases that a normally functioning pancreas would secrete.

The good news is that you can consider implementing digestive enzyme supplementation this very week if you are having multiple digestive troubles. It is best to discuss any supplementation with a professional, especially with the food sensitivities, Lyme-related symptoms and possible medications you may be taking. Go slow, start with a very low dose and see how the body responds.

I prefer animal-sourced digestive enzymes in most cases and I use a Standard Process product called “Zypan,” especially when I suspect a lack of hydrochloric acid. This product has been around since 1945 and it has been very helpful and effective in clinical practice. ( Standard Process does not endorse me.) There is a trace amount of lactose in this product, so there are some instances when I opt for another brand. (DigestGold from Enzymedica is one of my favorite choices for an allergen-free product. “Digest” from MediHerb is helpful too as are Swedish Bitters from Gaia, which does contain alcohol.)

In all cases , I recommend you consult with a professional before starting any supplementation as food sensitivities and more serious underlying pathologies, including hidden gastro-intestinal infections, must be ruled out.

If the gut is in shape, your mind, moods and body are in shape!


  • Rika Keck, is the founder NY Integrated Health. Rika is trained extensively in Applied Clinical Nutrition, Metabolic Typing, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition and Exercise. As a Health Expert, she is able to address underlying metabolic imbalances contributing to e.g. digestive ailments, weight gain, food sensitivities, skin conditions, fatigue, Candida, immune dysfunctions, inflammation, hormonal imbalances, painful joints and detoxification concerns. In addition, she can provide a metabolic - health evaluation of blood labs. As an Exercise Expert, she is able to facilitate improved function, sports performance and post-surgery rehabilitation exercise. As a Health Advocate, she is an impassioned and knowledgeable speaker on a broad range of holistic Wellness topics. Contact Rika Keck at: www.nyintegratedhealth.com/ 646 285-8588

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