Amino Acids and Indigestion

When we digest a meal containing protein, our stomach produces hydrochloric acid to break down the food into useful amino acids, which are the building blocks of life needed for every bodily function. While it may look like food to us, the stomach recognizes the protein as a complex sequential chain of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. Once the acid is secreted, the protein is unraveled, exposing the amino acid chains so that the pancreas, small intestine and stomach lining's digestive enzymes can get to work splitting peptide bonds and freeing individual amino acids for energy absorption, fat for storage and waste for excretion.

When our digestion system is out of whack, we suffer in both big and small ways. Acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion can be the small yet terribly uncomfortable side effects of improper digestion.

While it is widely believed that heartburn acid reflux comes from overproduction of HCL acid, recent research suggests that indigestion can be caused by the contrary - underproduction! In the case of underproduction of acid, also known as achlorhydria, undigested protein sits in our stomach, essentially rotting. Bloating, burping and discomfort ensues - sometimes forcing acid or food back up the esophagus. Disgusting, is not it?

If you have bad breath, burp excessively after eating, feel heavy after eating, experience nausea, diarrhea or constipation, then these may be telltale signs that food is not being broken down properly into the amino acids you need to feel your best.

What are some of the causes of improper digestion, abnormal levels of stomach acid and poor absorption of amino acids? As we age, stomach acid production declines. Stress, sleep deprivation, eating too fast and over-eating also contribute to acid secretion. Essentially, we're not getting the chemical triggers we need to keep our machine well-oiled.

Drug companies like Prilosec - the top selling prescription last year -- appeal to us by promising to stop acid production, even though it is a much-needed natural process. While these drugs provide immediate, temporary relief, they still don't attack the underlying issue - that your body simply is not digesting foods properly, and, as a result, cannot derive the amino acids from the food that you've eaten.

Body builders, senior citizens and indigestion sufferers alike add amino acids supplements to their diets. While it is almost instinctual to take the fast track to immediate heartburn symptoms relief, many researchers warn against it. To address the underlying problem, which is inadequate amino acids and improper digestive functioning, reflux treatment should include a healthy diet that triggers one's natural body processes. If achieving that is difficult, then a boost of these supplements might do the trick.