Jerry Tennant, MD., a renowned physician, integrative medicine specialist, and the creator of Tennant Products has long emphasized the crucial role of iodine in maintaining optimal health. Among its many functions, iodine plays a significant role in the production of stomach acid, which is essential for proper digestion. In this blog post, we will explore Dr. Tennant's perspective on the importance of iodine and stomach acid in maintaining digestive health and overall well-being.
Iodine: A Critical Nutrient
Iodine is a vital trace element required for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism, growth, and development. According to Dr. Tennant, iodine is crucial for thyroid function and also plays a vital role in maintaining the immune system and supporting proper digestion.
Iodine and Stomach Acid Production
Stomach acid, also known as hydrochloric acid (HCl), is essential for breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and preventing the growth of harmful bacteria in the stomach. Dr. Tennant teaches about the role of iodine in the production of stomach acid, explaining that iodine deficiency can lead to insufficient HCl production, which may contribute to various digestive issues.
Iodine is required for the formation of the compound "chloride", which is a key component of HCl. When the body lacks sufficient iodine, it may not produce enough chloride, thereby decreasing stomach acid production. This can result in indigestion, bloating, heartburn, malabsorption of nutrients, and an increased risk of infections.
What is the Impact of Low Stomach Acid?
The body runs into various problems when it doesn’t have adequate levels of stomach acid. Here are just a few:
- The diaphragm does not receive the signal to constrict and close the esophageal sphincter, a major cause of acid reflux.
- The pancreas doesn’t make cholecystokinin (CCK). Without CCK, the gallbladder doesn’t empty and eventually develops gallstones.
- Without CCK, the liver doesn’t make bile and the gallbladder doesn’t add bile to the digestive process. Thus, the body cannot break down and absorb fat-soluble vitamins including vitamins D and K. Without vitamins D and K2, osteoporosis develops.
- The body can’t break proteins into amino acids, including tyrosine and tryptophan. Without tyrosine, you cannot make adrenaline. Without adrenaline:
- You cannot tolerate stress
- You cannot multi-task
- Your memory fails
- You cannot stand loud noises
- You develop allergies and asthma
- You cannot stand to be touched and just want to be left alone
- You develop hypertension
- You cannot perform sexually
- You get angry when interrupted
- The sympathetic nervous system doesn’t work well, so it is difficult to fall asleep.
- Neurochemicals like serotonin and dopamine are made from tyrosine and tryptophan. Without stomach acid, you do not have these amino acids and become depressed.
Let's dive into two areas that are common: GERD and SIBO
Low stomach acid can actually contribute to the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in a few ways:
When there isn't enough acid in the stomach to properly break down food, it can sit in the stomach longer and ferment, producing gas and pressure that can push stomach contents up into the esophagus. This can also lead to food sensitivities. (Read Betsy's Story)
Weakened lower esophageal sphincter (LES)
The LES is a muscular valve that separates the stomach from the esophagus. It normally stays tightly closed to prevent stomach acid from flowing back up into the esophagus. However, low stomach acid can weaken the LES, making it more likely to open and allow acid to reflux into the esophagus. Without adequate levels of stomach acid, the signal is weak or nonexistent and the diaphragm relaxes at the wrong time, allowing stomach acid to make its way back into the esophagus.
Delayed gastric emptying
Low stomach acid can also slow down the rate at which food leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine. This delay can cause an increase in pressure in the stomach, which can force acid up into the esophagus.
Therefore, low stomach acid can contribute to GERD by causing poor digestion, weakening the LES, and delaying gastric emptying. If you suspect you have low stomach acid or GERD, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition where there is an abnormal overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. Low stomach acid can contribute to the development of SIBO in a few ways:
Impaired gut motility
Low stomach acid can slow down the rate at which food moves through the digestive system. This can lead to a buildup of bacteria in the small intestine, as they have more time to grow and multiply.
Reduced digestive secretions
Stomach acid not only helps to digest food, but also creates an acidic environment that kills off harmful bacteria in the stomach and small intestine. When there is not enough stomach acid, the pH in the small intestine becomes less acidic, which can allow bacteria to thrive.
Altered microbiome balance
Stomach acid plays an important role in shaping the microbiome balance by selectively killing some bacteria and allowing others to survive. Therefore, low stomach acid can disturb the delicate balance of the gut microbiome, leading to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria.
Therefore, low stomach acid can contribute to the development of SIBO by slowing gut motility, reducing digestive secretions, and altering the balance of the gut microbiome. If you suspect you have SIBO, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Addressing Iodine Deficiency and Low Stomach Acid
Dr. Tennant suggests several strategies for ensuring adequate iodine intake and promoting proper stomach acid production:
Consume iodine-rich foods
Incorporate foods high in iodine, such as seaweed, seafood, dairy products and eggs into your diet to help maintain adequate iodine levels.
Consider iodine supplementation
Under the guidance of your healthcare provider, an iodine supplement can bridge the gap between what your body needs and the iodine levels in the food you are eating.
Support stomach acid production
In addition to maintaining proper iodine levels, Dr. Tennant recommends using natural methods to promote stomach acid production, such as consuming apple cider vinegar or taking betaine HCl supplements.
Maintain a balanced diet
Consuming a well-rounded diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains can help support overall digestive health.
Stress can negatively impact digestion and stomach acid production. Incorporating stress management techniques, such as meditation, yoga or deep breathing exercises can help support digestive health.
Iodine is an essential nutrient with a significant impact on overall health, including the production of stomach acid and proper digestion. Dr. Jerry Tennant's insights emphasize the importance of maintaining adequate iodine levels and supporting stomach acid production for optimal digestive health.
Taking proactive steps to address iodine deficiency and promoting healthy digestion can support well-being and prevent potential health issues related to these vital physiological processes.
Consult Your Healthcare Professional
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Featured Products in This Article:
Dr. Tennant’s® Lugol's Iodine Liquid
A great solution for supporting the body’s need for iodine and iodide. Iodine is one of the few elements required for cellular health that the body cannot produce, so it needs to be supplemented through food or additional nutrition.
Dr. Tennant’s® Lugol's Iodine Plus Capsules
A complete iodine supplement solution with necessary co-factors Zinc, Selenium, B1 as well as Fulvic and Vitamin C necessary for proper iodine metabolism.