HCL ( hydrochloric acid) in the stomach works to digest tough foods such as fibrous meats, vegetables and poultry. It digests protein, calcium and iron. Without HCL, problems such as pernicious anemia, gastric carcinoma, and allergies can develop. Be aware that stress, tension, anger, and anxiety before eating, as well as deficiencies of some vitamins ( B-complex primarily) and minerals, can all cause a lack of HCL. Hence, check your attitude before eating.