A couple of weeks ago, someone contacted me and ordered ashitaba capsules. Within a few minutes, he cancelled the order after hearing from a doctor he knows that ashitaba may be bad for our body because it makes the stomach alkaline. This suppresses the acids that supposedly break down food for digestion. In essence, an alkaline stomach cannot digest food.
Many people may not be correctly informed on the issue. In this post, we will try to analyze the truth and science behind this and try to answer the question posted in the title. Feel free to share your own understanding or correct me if I get it wrong in the comments below for a healthy discussion.
Alkaline and Acid in the Stomach
Before anything else, let us lay down these facts:
- Our stomach is very acidic and the PH level is around 4. The amount and level of acid must remain adequate since this is necessary for proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
- As we consume food, bacterias and viruses along with the food are sent to our stomach. The primary gastric acid secreted by the
stomach known as hydrochloric acid (HCL) sterilizes the food
we eat and prevents harmful bacteria from entering the GI tract.
- Carbon dioxide, water and sodium chloride or potassium chloride are the ingredients that make hydrochloric acid. HCL destroys the bacteria and parasites, helps in digestion and also absorbs protein.
Next, we ask:
- What happens when there is too much acid in the stomach? What causes too much acid?When you have too much stomach acid, you are likely to experience
abdominal discomfort, such as heartburn, indigestion and stomach pain. The cause mostly points to diet. If you eat too much acidic food like meat, dairy products, processed food and acidic beverages like soda and coffee, you will tend to have too much acid. Without an abundant reserve of alkaline minerals found mostly in fresh vegetables, the body’s buffering systems become compromised, hence acidity results.
- What happens to alkaline when it is in the stomach, which is highly acidic?I’ve mentioned in the facts above that the stomach must be acid for proper digestion, right? So is taking alkaline food bad? Let’s insert ashitaba (Angelica keiskei), a high alkaline veggie, into the question: Is taking ashitaba bad and harmful for the stomach because it produces alkaline? The answer is no, and frankly, I’m quite surprised.
Apart from research via online articles, I got in contact with
other ashitaba suppliers and researchers to inquire about what they
think about alkaline being produced by ashitaba in our stomach. The following lists my interesting findings:
- When we eat alkaline food, the PH level inside the stomach goes up. This commands the stomach to secrete more hydrochloric acid to regulate the pH level as an instantly-as-needed basis (in other words, “bring back the pH level to 4”).
- The more alkaline in our stomach ingested by substances we take, the more HCL will be secreted to maintain the stomach pH value. This makes the stomach become acidic again (back to normal). This is because alkaline or acid produced by the body will have an equal and opposite acid or alkaline produced by the body; therefore, there is no net gain and it seems like this is never-ending.
To conclude, there’s really no problem in eating taking alkaline food such as ashitaba because pH level in our stomach always gets normalized by our own body. As long as you consume it at a reasonable amount and eat variety of food, everything will balance out. We also learned that appropriate stomach acid levels are crucial for our digestion, immune system and for adequate nutrient status.
If you want to read more about this topic, you can refer to the following links where explanations are less technical:
I’m thanking Mr. Jaime T. Licauco for bringing up the issue.