Well let’s be honest, few actually do, the purpose of the acid bath is to digest things – that includes any “nasties” that might have come along for the ride.
Acid burns up the little guys
Both good guys and bad guys , suffer under the stomach’s first line of defence, an acid attack, unless they have some way of protecting themselves from dipping into a pH 2 pool.
The reason why the acid bath causes bacterial death and destruction, is because the surface proteins that come into contact with the acid end up being pulled apart, they unfold and then stick together in big clumps. The bacteria turn into a sticky goo.
Some bacteria DO make it
The stomach dip certainly culls the number of bacteria making the journey beyond the stomach. But some do survive the acid shower.
The good guys traverse into the nether regions of the gut, where they feed and breed, providing vital nutrients that make us big and strong and keeping our immune system primed and operating like an elite crack squad.
Regrettably, riff raff also get through – causing tummy upsets and other troubles.
Raincoats for bacteria
Researchers from the University of Michigan have discovered one way bacteria make it through the bad lands of the stomach, is by wearing protective clothing. Yup, bacteria accessorise with acid resistant raincoats and wellies.
E.coli’s raincoat comes in the form of a protein called HdeA.
At the first sign of acid, the bacteria deploy their HdeA raincoat. When the protein comes in contact with acid, it unfolds but unlike “normal” proteins, the unfolding causes the protein to become very flexible. It then molds itself around the outside of the bacteria, locking away all the other bits. So the rest of the bacteria is safe, under the special protein coating – just like putting on a raincoat keeps you nice and dry, by stopping the water from getting onto your skin and clothes.
Are you providing bacteria with an umbrella ?
Most bacteria don’t carry raincoats, so your stomach is able to help keep the “bad” guys out. Keeping you from serious tummy upsets and microflora imbalances.
But, it takes an acidic environment to protect you.
If you’re taking meds that interfere with acid production in the stomach, such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and anti-acids on a regular basis, you’re providing bacteria that don’t carry raincoats, with an umbrella. Allowing them to protect themselves from the stomach’s injurious acid shower.
The final result – changed microflora populations. Microflora spoon
Changes in who is who in your zoo,
- can make you vulnerable to bacterial overgrowth, which can lead to problems like inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) and ironically, more heartburn (GERD)
- can increase your risk of cancer, particularly colon cancer, infections and other diseases
- can leave you with hidden hungers, as digestion of food and extraction of nutrients is compromised
You can’t outlaw bacteria who are carrying their special raincoats and wellies from visiting you.
But, for optimum health, stop providing bacteria that are not prepared for the acidic weather conditions with an opportunity to move in.
Ban brollies in your stomach and burn the riff raff !Structural plasticity of an acid-activated chaperone allows promiscuous substrate binding. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2009) 106(14):5557-5562. Timothy L. Tapley, Jan L. Körner, Madhuri T. Barge, Julia Hupfeld, Joseph A. Schauerte, Ari Gafni, Ursula Jakob, and James C. A. Bardwell.
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