S To Reverse Low Stomach Acid
1. Ingest Apple Cider Vinegar
The No. 1 thing you can do to start to balance this pH in your stomach is use apple cider vinegar right before your meals. I would take one tablespoon and just a very small amount of water. Apple cider vinegar is a great natural remedy because apple cider vinegar has a very low pH in balance with your stomach.
2. Take Digestive Enzymes
The No. 2 step you want to start taking to improve your stomach acid are digestive enzymes. I would get a good digestive enzyme blend and take one to two caps right before your meal. You could even take that with the apple cider vinegar.
Digestive enzymes will help you fully break down those nutrients you ingest. If your stomach acid is too high, that will actually not allow you to break down the food youre eating, so you must get plenty of enzymes. Thats not something you should have to take the rest of your life, but it is something you should take for a time until your stomach acid balances out.
3. Add HCL with Pepsin to Your Diet
The No. 3 thing you may consider if you have low stomach acid is HCL with pepsin hydrochloric acid with pepsin. Now, hydrochloric acid is naturally created in your stomach. That is really the main thing that creates that very acidic environment to break down food. But if youre deficient in hydrochloric acid, and stomach acid itself, thats not going to allow you to fully digest and break down things like protein, which, over time, can also cause a condition called leaky gut.
What Stomach Acid Does
A low stomach acidity level will prevent your food from being digested properly, leaving your body with nutrient deficiencies, including a lack of amino acids and minerals that it needs to promote healthy hair, scalp and skin, said St. Jean. What this means is that even if you are eating the right foods and taking the right multivitamins, if your stomach acid levels are not where they should be, they will not be having the impact on your overall health, including your hair, scalp and skin, that they should and could be.
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Gastric Hypoacidity And Disease
A healthy stomach secretes hydrochloric acid and pepsin in response to ingestion of a meal or even a small amount of food. Available evidence indicates that adequate absorption of iron, calcium, zinc, copper, folic acid, vitamin B12 and other B vitamins requires the presence of HCl.
So achlorhydria, or the absence of gastric acid secretion, and hypochlorhydria, inadequate secretion of gastric acid, could result in suboptimal absorption of the nutrients listed above. Because of low or no pepsin, which is required for protein digestion, amino acid deficiencies can also occur concurrently.
Stomach acid serves as a barrier protecting against various microorganisms that might otherwise colonize the GI tract. So patients with low stomach acid are at increased risk of bacterial or fungal overgrowth, parasitic infestation of the GI tract, and general dysbiosis .
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Signs And Symptoms Of Insufficiency
Using quality symptom analysis we can start to pick up possible signs of dysfunction with stomach acid secretion. This will make up part of the forthcoming online health assessment questionnaire I have in development at the moment. This is not a diagnosis, but merely a way to help steer us in the right direction to optimise our healthcare.
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An Introduction To Stomach Acid Imbalance
Symptoms of the upper digestive system such as acid reflux, bloating and belching are extremely common. Often, we would link these to an excess of acid in the stomach. However, this might not actually be the case and problems relating to too much stomach acid may be less widespread than we think.
Nowadays, it is becoming much more readily accepted that our symptoms may actually be the result of the opposite happening we arent producing enough stomach acid!
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Ways To Test For Low Or High Stomach Acid
Most people dont know about low stomach acid, or hypochlorhydria, or that it plays a large role many chronic health conditions.
Fortunately, you can use a variety of methods to test your stomach acid levels. This will better help you remedying gut problems caused by low stomach acid.
This test helps you determine if you have hypochlorhydria, hyperchlorhydria , or achlorhydria .
The Real Cause: Low Stomach Acid
Dr. Wright explains that over 90% of acid reflux cases are caused by low stomach acid.
How does low stomach acid = acid reflux symptoms like heartburn, gas, and indigestion? Basically, adequate stomach acid allows us to digest our food and anything else we might inadvertently swallow, like the microbes on our food. With proper stomach acid levels, these microbes die quickly and the rest of our digestive system remains safe from harm.
But without enough stomach acid, microbes multiply where they arent supposed toin the stomach and small intestinecausing increased pressure on the stomach and lower esophageal sphincter , which is supposed to prevent our food from coming back up into the esophagus. With acid reflux or GERD, the gas and pressure coming from the overpopulated microbes in the stomach as well as undigested food forces the LES open in the wrong direction, allowing even small amounts of stomach acid to enter the esophagus and cause heartburn.
Therefore, additional stomach acid is needed to properly digest food, kill unfriendly microbes, and relieve pressure/bloating on the stomach and LES. Then, acid reflux and GERD symptoms subside and stay gone. Unlike acid suppressing medications, supplementing additional stomach acid and increasing the bodys natural acid production actually heals acid reflux and GERD.
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How To Increase Low Stomach Acid
For many people, taking HCl Betaine and/or starting the day with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice for 2 to 4 weeks will kick the body back into gear and you might be able to produce your own stomach acid from that point on. If that does not happen, I recommend to work with a functional practitioner to test for h.pylori a bacterial infection that inhibits stomach acid production. From my experience, h.pylori is hard to diagnose and blood tests often show false negative. My physician ordered GI Map and it finally confirmed the h.pylori infection. Another condition worth ruling out is pernicious anemia an autoimmune condition when the immune system attacks the stomach lining cells that produce the stomach acid, by testing for antibodies.
How Accurate Is It
While this test can give insight into stomach acid levels, it is not the most scientific method and, therefore, is not one hundred percent accurate in some cases. To increase the accuracy of the test, it is advisable to take the test on 5 consecutive mornings and pull all this data together to get a better understanding of your stomach acid levels.
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The Ppi And Sibo Link
As I have highlighted above, your stomach needs to be acidic in order to digest and absorb nutrients and to protect us from pathogens. Long term PPI use has been associated with increased infection, nutrient deficiencies, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, dementia and of course SIBO.
PPI use can be the root cause of many SIBO cases. This particular study found that PPI users have a higher incidence of SIBO compared to both individuals with IBS and healthy controls. The researchers also found that the prevalence of SIBO greatly increases if PPI therapy is used for 13 months or longer.
The correlation between SIBO and PPI seems to have two potential causes. First, long term PPI use can cause SIBO by disturbing the pH balance and the function of the digestive system as a whole. This perturbation creates an environment in the GI tract that is susceptible to bacterial overgrowths . Second, I believe some individuals GERD is due to the abdominal pressure created from SIBO. In this case, the doctors are diagnosing based on the symptom and failing to see the root of the problem.
H. Pylori infections should always be treated with an antibiotic before ever considering a PPI. Once the bacteria is cleared, in my opinion, PPIs should only be considered after more gentle gastritis or ulcer healing approaches have been tried.
Betaine Hcl Challenge Test:
This is another at-home test that is quite reliable in my opinion, although there is no scientific data that I am aware of to prove this. There are studies that show that supplemental betaine HCL does reacidify the stomach for a period of time .
I typically recommend it for individuals who have the major symptoms of low HCL and have failed the baking soda test. It will only cost about $20 for a bottle of Betaine HCL, which is most likely a good investment since you will probably need it to help you restore your HCL levels if they are truly low.
To Perform the Test do the Following:
It is best to do this test 2-3 times in order to make sure you arent getting a false positive. There are 3 main reasons for someone getting a possible false positive.
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Low Stomach Acid Affects Up To Half Of The Population And You Can Cure It Yourself At Home
Low stomach acid is extremely common among the present population and can cause people to become protein malnourished and mineral deficient. It can be diagnosed at home using baking powder, which will react with the acid in the stomach to create carbon dioxide. If you experience belching within 5 minutes of ingesting the baking powder, your stomach acid levels are normal. No belching equates to low stomach acid. If you do have low levels of gastric acid, there are natural supplements you can take which can help these include apple cider vinegar and manuka honey. There are also digestive enzyme and acid supplements which can help increase gastric acid levels.
The highly acidic nature of the stomach is pivotal to life. The average human stomach contains between 20 and 100ml of gastric acid, the pH of which fluctuates between 1.5 and 2.2. This creates a treacherous but necessary environment the acidic stomach contents allow efficient digestion of food, effective absorption of nutrients and enables the body to receive essential minerals such as vitamin B12, folic acid and proteins.
For patients who are diagnosed with hypochlorhydria, commonly advised treatments include hydrochloric acid supplements and pepsin.
What Are Low Stomach Acid Symptoms
If you have low stomach acid, you may have symptoms like bloating, belching, burning, flatulence immediately after meals, indigestion, food allergies, nausea after supplements, rectal itching, undigested food in stool, and extreme fullness after eating.
Prolonged low stomach acid can contribute to allergies, asthma, skin disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia, osteoporosis, GI infection, and depression.
It can also cause malabsorption of different vitamins and minerals and proteins which can lead to leg cramps, cracking/peeling/chipping fingernails, or hair loss.
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Low Stomach Acid And Inflammation
The Inflammation circuit of your NEM is composed of the gut, microbiome, and immune cells. Inflammation is a natural and necessary part of immunity, helping to rid your body of the original insult that damaged the cells as well as the dead and damaged cells themselves. It relies heavily on a smooth Detoxification circuit and a healthy gut and microbiome.
So how does having reduced stomach acid trigger inflammation?
The immune system is responsible for defending your body against any foreign invaders – substances that spread to parts of the body they shouldnt be in. As weve seen, low stomach acid allows undigested or partially undigested food to pass through the stomach and enter the rest of the digestive tract. Bacteria and viruses that enter the stomach also have a higher chance of surviving, since the hydrochloric acid there is not strong enough to kill them off.
The rest of the digestive tract doesnt have that acid to help it defend itself. Likewise, it cant break down food as well as HCl can. So it is vulnerable to the damage that the undigested food and pathogens that enter it can cause. As bacteria and viruses build up in the gut, they begin to create an imbalance in the guts microbiome, a condition called dysbiosis. In essence, the bad bacteria begin to overwhelm the good bacteria. The undigested food particles can also ferment and feed the bad bacteria, worsening the dysbiosis.
Digestive Issues Caused By Low Stomach Acid Lead To Heartburn:
If this thought process of low acid causing heartburn is true, we are causing ourselves further problems by suppressing acid to remedy our heartburn symptoms. Antacids may be causing a vicious cycle of heartburn problems. Instead, there may be a need to focus on ways to increase acid, healthier eating, and ways to keep the LES from leaking acid into the esophagus.
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So Why Doesnt Everyone Know About Low Stomach Acid
Why do we still use acid blockers and antacids like candy? There could be a few reasons. Dr. Wrights book does point out that antacids are a $7 billion a year industry.
The money and the marketing make sure our pillboxes stay full.
The other could be a lack of training! Some doctors havent delved into some natural remedies for heartburn, but maybe willing to try!
Stomach Acid Is Incredibly Important For Our Digestion And Overall Health
The bottom line: maintaining optimal stomach acid levels is key to preventing acid reflux and GERD. Acid reflux is almost certainly caused by low stomach acid rather than high stomach acid, according to years of clinical research. While acid-suppressing medications may provide temporary relief, they will ultimately cause the problem to get worse if left untreated.
Stomach acid is also the first line of defense in protecting the rest of our digestive system from pathogens and toxins that we ingest with our food and drink, so having healthy acid levels is essential to our overall and long-term health.
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How To Test Your Stomach Acid Levels
Method 1: Baking soda test
You can very easily do this test at home.
- Mix 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in 4-6 ounces of cold or room-temperature water first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
- Drink the baking soda solution.
- Time how long it takes you to belch.
- If you do not belch within 3 minutes, stop timing.
If you do not belch, you have too little stomach acid. If you belch, you are fine.
This is not the most effective test and it often produces false negatives . I, therefore, recommend Method 2 below.
Method 2: The HCl pill test
The idea here is to dose the HCl pills until you feel a slight discomfort in your stomach. When I was low on stomach acid , I had to take as many as seven pills to feel the warmth.
On Day 1, start with one capsule of HCl, at the beginning of each meal. Note: This means a full meal, not a snack.
Watch for any feelings of warmth, discomfort, pain or burning in the throat or stomach.
- If you experience any of these symptoms after just one capsule, do not take any more pills.
- If these symptoms are NOT present, go to Step 3.
On Day 2, increase your dose by one capsule of HCl at the beginning of each full meal.
- If you feel any of the symptoms mentioned above decrease your dose to the level at which you had no symptoms and maintain this dose.
- If you do not feel these symptoms go to Step 4.
Looking for a trusted HCl supplement? We recommend HCl Guard+ from Healthy Gut.