Does food seem to take a long time to digest?
Hair thinning or hairloss?
Vitamin deficiency or anemia no matter what you take or eat?
Stomach problems after eating meat?
Do you use pain relievers, antibiotics, or other Rx often?
Do you have symptoms of IBS, hypothyroidism, heartburn, adrenal fatigue, premature aging…but nothing has worked?
It could be low stomach acid.
Here’s a quick at-home test:
- Mix 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in 4-6 ounces of cold water first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
- Drink the baking soda solution. Don’t gulp it, just drink it.
- Time how long it takes you to burp. Time up to five minutes.
If you have not belched within five minutes stop timing.
In theory, if your stomach is producing adequate amounts of stomach acid you’ll likely belch within two to three minutes. Early and repeated belching may be due to excessive stomach acid (but don’t confuse these burps with small little burps from swallowing air when drinking the solution). Any belching after 3 minutes indicates a low acid level.
What Causes Low Stomach Acid?
It is believed that low stomach acid is caused by chronic use of antibiotics and NSAID pain relievers as well as a diet high in processed foods and refined sugars.
Symptoms of Low Stomach Acid
Low stomach acid(Hypochlorhydria) can cause a variety of different symptoms so it can be difficult to pin down. Here are the common symptoms of low stomach acid:
- Chronic indigestion
- Excessive flatulence
- Chronic candida
- Hair loss in women
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Chronic fatigue
- Rectal itching
- Autoimmune disease
- Undigested food in stools
- Food allergies
- Dry skin & hair
- Gas & bloating
- Dysbiosis (the improper balance of gut bacteria)
- Adrenals become depleted (adrenal fatigue)
- DHEA, the youth hormone, is suppressed, leading to premature aging
Health Problems Associated with Low Stomach Acid
In addition to the above symptoms, there are long-term negative health effects associated with low stomach acid.
- Acid Reflux
If you’re an acid reflux sufferer and have been using acid reducers and proton pump inhibitors for years, you’ve been tackling the problem the wrong way. Acid reflux disease is not a symptom of too much stomach acid; it’s a symptom of too little stomach acid.
It might sound ridiculous but when you have low stomach acid, your body works hard to pump out an excessive amount to try to digest your food. Your proton pumps work overtime to make up for the deficit. When you feel that burning in your throat and get that bad taste in your mouth, you reach for an acid reducer, which causes even more acid to be produced to make up for an even larger deficit.
Acid reflux can become so severe; your throat will literally close up to the point where you need surgery. Chronic acid erosion in your throat can also increase your risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Many of the mystery symptoms you experience everyday may be a result of malnutrition. No matter how much you eat or even how healthy your diet has become, you may still not be breaking down enough of the food to assimilate its nutrients. Chronic low stomach acid inevitably leads to multiple vitamin deficiencies, which can lead to even more unusual symptoms you and your doctor cannot get to the bottom of.
- Compromised Immune System
When your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, your immune system isn’t getting enough support. If you seem to get every cold and flu that’s going around, low stomach acid could be to blame. Eventually, your compromised immune system could lead to the development of an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder occurs when the immune system begins attacking the body’s own healthy tissues.
- Chronic Gastric Upset
Do you suffer from chronic abdominal pain, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating? Chronic gastrointestinal upset is another symptom of hypochlorhydria. Inflammation of the intestines can also lead to the development of colitis or Crohn’s disease.
One of the hidden dangers of low stomach acid is osteoporosis. Magnesium, vitamin D, and calcium are essential in the prevention of this debilitating bone disease. If you don’t have enough stomach acid to digest your food, you will not assimilate the nutrients necessary for prevention.
If left untreated, low stomach acid can cause cancer.
One of the ways to help raise your level of stomach acid is to supplement with Betaine HCL w/Pepsin. More….
The treatment in the short term is to take acid supplements. Indeed, this may explain why cider vinegar is such a popular treatment for many problems – the vinegar acidifies the stomach and improves the digestion of food. Clearly, this has the potential to affect a wide range of conditions. The problem with cider vinegar is that it contains yeast and would therefore not be tolerated by many people.
A second possibility is to take high dose ascorbic acid (vitamin C) at mealtimes. This mildly acidifies the stomach and promotes absorption.
The third approach is to take Betaine Hydrochloride (Betaine HCL), a naturally occurring substance derived from beets. This is available in capsules which need to be taken with food, and the dose adjusted according to the response. People start off with one capsule initially and build up to maybe four or five capsules depending on the size of the meal and the response to treatment. Often in the longer term with the correct diet (low glycemic index, low allergy, smaller meals, get rid of Helicobacter pylori, correct gut flora) this cures the chronic gastritis, and the stomach is again able to produce acid normally.