How Stomach Acid Affects The Body
Stomach acid, or Hydrochloric acid , is secreted by the stomach to help digest and absorb proteins and other nutrients that we consume in our diet. HCl also serves to protect us by killing various pathogenic microorganisms that might otherwise cause infection in the digestive tract.
Sufficiently digested food is key for giving the body the nutrients it needs to function well, including producing hormones.
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.
Acid Reflux And Heartburn
Another common side effect of low stomach acid is heartburn or acid refuel. According to The Mayo Clinic, gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD isnt necessarily caused by an acidic stomach. Instead, that painful burning sensation is likely connected to symptoms within the GI tract caused by low stomach acid. Without enough of this helpful stomach acid to break down food, poorly digested food can get into the GI tract and cause GI pathogens to overgrow.
Don’t Miss: How Much Does It Cost To Remove Stomach Fat
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.
What Is The Treatment For Acid Reflux
There are treatments available specifically for treating acid reflux, what youll need will depend on the severity and whats causing the problem. If you have chronic heartburn, its essential to ask your doctor because acid reflux can cause severe damage to your oesophagus if left untreated.
If the problem is chronic or severe, a doctor can prescribe medications which inhibit the production of gastric juices for acid reflux relief and prevent the damage it causes. The medications often prescribed are proton pump inhibitors or H2 blockers.
FACT Acid reflux medications, even over the counter ones, change stomach acidity, and this can have consequences on your digestive health.
Drink Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw apple cider vinegar is a fermented liquid made from crushed apples, bacteria, and yeast. Its rich in protein and enzymes that can help break down bacteria in food. Raw apple cider vinegar can increase stomach acid levels because its acidic properties introduce more acid into the digestive tract.
Other than increasing stomach acid levels, raw apple cider vinegar has been associated with reducing symptoms from acid reflux, diabetes, and high blood sugar.
To use apple cider vinegar, dilute a small amount with water and drink it before your meal. Without water or another solvent, apple cider vinegar can damage the enamel on your teeth.
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.
Recommended Reading: When Can I Sleep On My Stomach After Tummy Tuck
I Live On Antacids What Can I Do
If you suspect that youve got low levels, there are several ways to naturally boost them. For starters, you might try apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach, as some anecdotal evidence supports this theory. Mix 1 tablespoon in a small glass of water and take it before meals. Betaine HCl supplements can also be used to perk up HCl production. Start with one capsule before meals and increase until you feel a warming sensation. If you take the supplement and notice a warm or burning sensation , your levels may actually be high enough!
Of course, if symptoms persist, you might choose to visit a functional medicine practitioner or functional nutritionist to help determine what might be the root cause!
S To Naturally Heal Low Stomach Acid
Today, Im going to talk about natural remedies for low stomach acid. The truth is, your stomach must be highly acidic to break down the food youre consuming and for proper absorption. If you have acid reflux symptoms of any type GERD, heartburn, etc. or if you have a condition like leaky gut syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease, even most skin issues today, or a lack of certain nutrients, those are all major warning signs that you have low stomach acid.
To combat this issue, you actually want to naturally balance the pH level of your stomach. Im going to talk about the top five steps you can follow and natural remedies you can take to improve your stomach acid and digestive function.
Don’t Miss: Why Does My Stomach Hurt When I Cough
Reduced Stomach Acidity A Cause Of Anaemia Obesity And Even Allergies And Autoimmune Diseases
Excessive flatulence, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea, burping, a feeling of heaviness or nausea after meals, lack of appetite for meat or a desire to eat despite having a full stomach, heartburn, reflux, and a sour aftertaste in the mouth are just some of the symptoms of insufficient stomach acid. If you also suffer from allergies, psoriasis, or malabsorption, have observed recurring rashes, are underweight or obese, have brittle nails, hair loss or undigested food in your stool, it most likely means that your stomach is secreting too little stomach acid.
Low Stomach Acid And Sibo
New research by Dr. Richard McCallum adds a new twist to existing research that associates low stomach acid and SIBO.
Dr. McCallum obtained samples of bacteria from the jejunum of patients with SIBO . Using DNA testing, he found that bacteria in the jejunum of SIBO patients is similar to oral bacteria and not similar to bacteria in the large intestine. This finding counters the common belief that SIBO is caused by bacteria flowing upward from the colon into the small intestine.
Dr. McCallum suggests that stomach acid plays an important role in killing bacteria before it enters the small intestine. This function may be impaired in SIBO patients.
Recommended Reading: Why Does My Stomach Hurt Everyday
Food Allergies And Intolerances
If youre allergic or intolerant to different foods, it may have something to do with your stomach acid levels. While researchers cant explain how stomach acid affects allergies and food sensitivities, they say theres a strong link.
Get your stomach acid levels tested if you have any food intolerances or allergies.
What You Can Do To Help Low Stomach Acid
There are many lifestyle factors that can be helpful when it comes to increasing low stomach acid levels.
Lets look at a few things you can do to up your stomach acid game right now.
- Focus on your food
We live in a busy world, but rushing through meal time can hinder stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.
Has your mouth ever watered after smelling food nearby? Thats your body beginning the digestive process. Smelling and looking at food stimulates stomach acid, digestive enzyme, and saliva production to make sure you have everything you need to properly digest your food.
When meal time comes around, take a moment to look at your food, take a deep breath, and smell the delicious food youre about to consume – your stomach will thank you for it.
- Take prebiotics and probiotics
At the core of a healthy digestive system is a healthy gut microbiome. This collection of bacteria, yeasts, and viruses helps your digestive system function its best. But in order to do that, your gut microbiome needs to be balanced.
That means it has plenty of healthy bacteria and low levels of inflammation.
Taking prebiotics and probiotics is a great way to encourage a balanced microbiome. You can incorporate these in the form of food or supplements – whatever is easiest for you!
- Consume digestive-stimulating herbs like ginger
- Stress less
- Work with a healthcare professional to incorporate digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and pepsin
Recommended Reading: Why Does My Stomach Hurt When Im On My Period
Add In Betaine Hcl With Meals
For additional support, you may want to consider taking betaine hydrochloric acid, or betaine HCl, with meals. Betaine HCl is bioidentical stomach acidequal to what your body makes naturallyand it can help you more easily digest meals, especially fats and carbohydrates, along with careful nutritional consideration and lifestyle support.
You may also follow this up with our Magnesium Carbonate 30 minutes to one hour after taking betaine HCl to soothe the stomach and promote relaxation in the body after extra acid has been introduced.
How Do I Know If I Have Low Stomach Acid
You can start by doing a quick burp test to see if you might have low stomach acid.
It is not recommended to do this test frequently.
- Before you eat or drink anything, and before brushing your teeth
- Mix a small glass of warm water with about 1/8 tsp of baking soda
- Drink the entire glass
- Set a timer and wait for the burp!
Burp timing and its possible meaning:
- Before 1 minute = high stomach acid
- 1-2 minutes = normal stomach acid
- 3-5 minutes = low stomach acid
Once youve done this self-test, be sure to communicate your results with your functional medicine dietitian.
This test isnt foolproof, but when taken along with a full review of your medical history and analysis of diagnostic tests, it can give your functional medicine dietitian a good idea of your stomach acid levels. Your functional medicine dietitian can then suggest specific nutritional therapy to begin to address your problem.
Recommended Reading: How To Heal Your Stomach Lining
So Why Do We Need Stomach Acid Anyway
Stomach acid is your friend!! It is so crucial to not only the digestion within the stomach, but it also sets the stage for digestive processes downstream. The gastrointestinal tract is extremely pH sensitive, which means that every part of the GI tract has to a specific acidity or alkalinity in order to function correctly.
In the stomach, the release of hydrochloric acid triggers the release of an enzyme called pepsin, which is essential for the digestion of proteins that we eat. Certain mineral absorption also seems to be quite dependent on adequate acid levels in the stomach including zinc, magnesium, copper, selenium and iron.
This stomach acid is also present to protect us from harmful bacteria that we ingest that are in our food and in the air we breathe. Most pathogens cannot survive in the harsh acidity of the stomach.
While protein digestion and pathogen protection are the more widely discussed roles of stomach acid, the downstream importance of having adequate stomach acid isnt highlighted as often. Continued digestion and absorption is highly dependent on the acidity of the chyme as it exits the stomach. The chyme has a pH of 2 as it exits the stomach into the duodenum of the small intestine. The high acidity triggers the hormone CCK to be released. CCK is responsible for stimulating the release of bile and digestive enzymes.
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.
Recommended Reading: Can Stomach Problems Cause Headaches And Dizziness
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.
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.
You May Like: How Do You Get Rid Of Gas In Your Stomach
Causes And Risk Factors Of Hypochlorhydria
âSome things can make you more likely to get hypochlorhydria.
Age. Your stomach secretes lower amounts of hydrochloric acid as you age. Hypochlorhydria is more common in people over 65.
High stress levels.Long-term stress can lead to low stomach acid.
âSmoking and drinking. Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can decrease the nutrients in your body. This can cause less stomach acid.
Lack of vitamins. Nutrients such as iron, zinc, and B vitamins are essential for maintaining stomach acid levels. A poor diet can result in low stomach acid, as can a loss of nutrients due to health problems, stress, smoking, or alcohol.
Antacids and other medication. Long-term use of antacids can cause hypochlorhydria. Medicines for treating stomach ulcers or heartburn can also cause low stomach acid production. Talk with your doctor about changing medications if you notice symptoms of low stomach acid.â
Stomach surgery. Stomach surgeries such as gastric bypass can cause hypochlorhydria.
Low Stomach Acid Is The Cause Of Gord
Stomach acid can be the bane of peoples lives that burning sensation in the throat, continuous heartburn and a pesky cough are all symptoms of GORD, which is characterised by a backflow of stomach acid into the oesophagus. A reduced amount of stomach acid can lead to an increase in intra-abdominal pressure , which can cause the lower oesophageal sphincter to open allowing small amounts of stomach acid to touch the oesophagus causing the familiar burning sensation experienced in reflux patients.
Also Check: How Do I Tighten Loose Skin On My Stomach