Can a Ketogenic Diet Help People with Acid Reflux?
The pH scale measures acidity: 7 is neutral, lower than 7 is acidic, and higher than 7 is alkaline. It’s a logarithmic scale, so a pH of 6 is ten times more acidic than a pH of 7, and a pH of 5 is a hundred times more acidic than a pH of 7, so you can see that even when the pH of your stomach rises in the presence of food, it’s still highly acidic! To give you a better sense for this, lemon juice has a pH of about 2 and vinegar’s pH is around 2-3. The pH of your empty stomach is only slightly less acidic than battery acid!
Not only is your stomach supposed to be acidic, but it must be acidic. The chemical breakdown of carbohydrates begins in your mouth, thanks to enzymes in your saliva. But the breakdown of proteins and fats begins in your stomach, and the primary conductor of the digestion orchestra is your stomach acid.
Think of proteins as strands of Christmas lights: multiple cords that are all tangled up. Job #1 of your stomach acid is to untangle these strands—a process called denaturing. When proteins are denatured, the enzymes in your small intestine that break them down into individual amino acids or small groups of amino acids (called peptides) have better access to them and are able to break them down properly.
Your stomach needs to be highly acidic not just in order to properly denature proteins, but also because the acidity signals other enzymes (such as gastric lipase, which is an early step in digestion of fats) to perform their functions, and these enzymes function optimally in an acidic environment.
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