Bad Digestion

with its excessive gas and burping is another plague of the elderly. They would rather not go to church nor visit a friend than embarrass themselves in that way.

Chewing

It all begins with the stomach although chewing food well is essential for really good digestion. Dentures should fit perfectly so the mouth does not develop sores. Using denture cream is not a good substitute for correct fit and is toxic. Denture plastic is often toxic, even containing mercury in its composition! Toxins in plastic can seep! such toxins lower the immunity of the mouth and throat and stomach since it all flows down into the stomach. Low immunity in the mouth permits throat infections to be chronic. If your elderly loved one has a red-looking mouth or throat, instead of pink, an infection is going on in spite of no coughs and no complaints.

It will do no good to keep zapping bacteria when reinfection is so easy. First kill the bacteria in the dentures by soaking in 70% grain alcohol. Then test the dentures for toxins. Soak the dentures in water for several hours. Rinse and soak again in fresh water. Repeat a third time to insure that any toxin found came from the dentures, not the saliva. save this water for testing. Search for heavy metals in the denture water. If you find any, you know the dentures are toxic! Get new ones, made of uncolored methacrylate (see Dental Cleanup, page 409).

The denture-soak should kill bacteria each night. Plastic has tiny pores where bacteria can hide. use 70% grain alcohol which you make yourself or plain vodka which is about 50% alcohol. since alcohol evaporates and is expensive, use a wide mouth jar with close fitting non-metal lid for all this. Fish them out with your toothbrush so it gets sterilized too. It only takes minutes to kill everything. Commercial denture cleaners are much more toxic than grain alcohol; don’t use them.

use food grade hydrogen peroxide or salt water to brush teeth in your mouth, never toothpaste. Toothpaste has toxic metals (tin, fluoride, strontium) besides benzene pollution. see the section on brushing teeth (page 532) for details and sources. If you are responsible for this daily chore, use homemade floss (2 pound to 4 pound nylon fish line) first; then brush. If your loved one is seated they may be able to handle the brush by themselves, giving them pride in the achievement.

If an elderly person refuses or can’t wear dentures, provide food that is soft and without chunks since this decides whether the stomach can digest it. The stomach is the weak point of the digestive process for the elderly because nearly all don’t produce enough acid to get the job done.

Stomach Acid

The body produces hydrochloric acid (HCL) which gets pushed into the stomach from the blood! The enzyme, carbonic anhydrase, a zinc enzyme, is involved. Not many ways are known to stimulate this whole process. Drinking water before meals stimulates it in unknown ways but is hard to do for the elderly. Next best is to provide acid.

Because strong HCL would dissolve teeth it is not available as a solution to aid digestion. Ask a pharmacist to make a 1% HCL solution and use 10 drops of it in a beverage at mealtime once a day. HCL as a tablet (“Betaine HCL”) is available but doesn’t have enough HCL in it.

Using a lemon or vinegar and honey beverage helps with di­gestion although this provides citric or acetic acid, not hydro­chloric. These acids are completely metabolized so they don’t add to the body acid level. But the fact that it is not hydrochloric means that it can’t kill bacteria and parasites in the stomach like regular hydrochloric acid could. The stomach becomes a haven for Salmonellas and other bacteria and this is the biggest digestive plague of the elderly. Salmonellas dig deep into the stomach wall, safe from antibiotics and stomach acid and aren’t washed away with the food. When they take over the region near the top of the stomach, it weakens the esophageal sphincter and food keeps coming back up a bit—a most uncomfortable development, especially after supper or when lying down.

When the Salmonellas spread out further to invade the dia­phragm around the sphincter, the diaphragm weakens, and lets a bit of the stomach up through the hole.

This causes hiatal hernia distress. Don’t settle your loved one in an easy chair after supper. This presses the stomach up­ward and the food up, too. Leave them sitting at the table a while, then walk a bit, to get the food down lower. The food will sink lower if some of it can leave the stomach at the lower pyloric end. But if Salmonellas are entrenched here, too, the lower end does not have enough action to push the food through the valve. Drugs like Reglan™ are given to speed this up.

What helps most is getting digestion completed. This sets up the natural cues for emptying. Digestive enzyme tablets have been in popular use to help digestion. But they may not be safe since they have not been sterilized. Always try the vinegar and honey method first. Coughing during eating is a sign that the diaphragm is irritated (by a hiatal hernia). If drinking water starts the coughing, omit it at the beginning of meals. Work in sips during the meal.

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