In an attempt to overcompensate for lack of enzymes in the food, the stomach produces an inordinate amount of stomach acid to compensate, leading to acid indigestion. Taking antacids or purple pills doesn’t actually solve the problem; it merely eliminates one of the symptoms. Ultimately, though, it passes even more quantities of poorly digested food into the intestinal tract where it leads to gas, bloating, bad digestion, chronic digestive disorders, in addition to blowing out your pancreas, which tries to compensate by producing huge amounts of digestive enzymes for use in the small intestine. All of this is exacerbated by foods and beverages such as alcohol (especially beer), high sugar foods, and caffeinated foods (coffee and tea, etc.) that can actually double acid production.
The simple solution for most people with excess stomach acid is to supplement with digestive enzymes which can digest up to 70% of the meal in the pre-acid phase, thus eliminating the need for large amounts of stomach acid and also taking tremendous stress off the digestive system and the pancreas.
Eventually, your body’s capacity to produce stomach acid begins to fade, with a concomitant loss in your body’s ability to sufficiently process food in the stomach. The health consequences can be profound.
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There are definitely some differences, and part of the reason is probably related to basic physiology. One of the most common GI conditions is irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. For years, we’ve known more women than men have IBS, though that distinction might have been overplayed because men and women may deal with it differently. A man may just say, “I’m going to tough it out,” and a woman may say, “I’m going to go to my doctor and see what’s going on.” So it looks to the doctor that women have more IBS, but that may not be the case.
Beyond that, there is likely some difference due to the way the muscles work in men and women. Think of the GI tract as a long tube from your mouth all the way down to the rectum, surrounded by muscles that are contracting all the time. Along the way are your stomach and other organs. There are studies suggesting that GI muscle motility is a bit slower in women than in men, and this is even more true when IBS is present.
If the muscles are moving really quickly in people with IBS, they get diarrhea. If the muscles are moving very slowly, they get constipation, and if the muscles are going into a spasm, they get pain. The slow muscle form is very common, but it’s much more common in women than in men.
Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is fairly common in both men and women. The bowel lining gets inflamed and damaged, causing abdominal pain, diarrhea, and sometimes bleeding. Doctors think the two types of IBD – Crohn’s disease andulcerative colitis – are autoimmune diseases. You’re probably born with some sort of a genetic predisposition, and then something triggers an immune reaction — whether it’s some unusual infection or something dietary, we just don’t know.