Try this simple test at home to see how your stomach acid levels are:
- Mix 1/4 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in about 4-6 ounces/120 mls of water first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
- Drink the bicarbonate solution.
- Time how long it takes you to belch.
- Time up to five minutes. If you have not belched within five minutes, stop timing.
It is thought that if your stomach IS producing adequate amounts of stomach acid, you will belch within 2 to 3 minutes. Any belching after 3 minutes suggests a low stomach acid.
This test is only an indicator, you might want to do more testing to determine your stomach acid levels. Another, even more reliable test at home that I recommend to my clients is the Betaine HCL (Betaine Hydrochloride) challenge. I do advise to consult with a practitioner to do this. Source.
The lining of the stomach secretes hydrochloric acids and enzymes that break down the food so that it can continue on its journey through the digestive system.
The stomach needs to be an acidic environment. It can easily become alkaline, when this happens, digestion doesn’t occur properly.
What happens if you don’t have enough acid?
If digestion isn’t occurring properly conditions like leaky gut syndrome may develop, (which increases the risk of headaches, skin problems, arthritis, fibromyalgia and other problems). Nutritional deficiencies can develop and the immune system can weaken.
Stomach acid kills bad bugs like parasites, viruses, candida and bacteria. It helps to break down foods to nutrients as well as breaking down proteins to smaller amino acids. In addition, stomach acid stimulates the pancreas and small intestines to produce the digestive enzymes and bile to break down foods even more.
Symptoms that indicate low stomach acid:
- Indigestion/ Reflux
- Stomach aches after food
- Bloating, belching or gas after meals
- Feeling really full after food
- Undigested food in stools
- Food intolerances
- Sore throat
- Weak, brittle or cracking fingernails
- Skin problems
- Poor mood, depression or irritability
- Constipation or diarrhea
*All of these symptoms of low stomach acid are the same as too much stomach acid. Rarely though people are actually high in stomach acid.
Possible reasons for low stomach acid or enzymes: include stress, low nutrient levels such as zinc, sodium, potassium or vitamin B1 and B6, poor diet, overeating, H pylori bacterial infection or excessive alcohol consumption. Antacid medications create alkaline conditions and reduce stomach acid. For some people, antibiotics and other types of medicine may damage the stomach’s ability to produce enough Hydrochloric Acid (HCL). Although low stomach acid can occur at any age. As you age, stomach acid tends to reduce.
Tips on how to improve stomach acid
- Chew your food thoroughly.
- Try not to rush your meals and eat in a relaxed environment.
- Betaine hydrochloric acid (HCL) supplements (This is our favourite way to increase acid, it works well. However taking it correctly is important, so best to work with a practitioner with this).
- ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) helps to increase acid.
- Swedish bitters, just before a meal, stimulates acid production.
- Use digestive enzymes supplements or increase foods rich in enzymes.
- Take probiotics.
- Plenty of water is important, but if you have low stomach acid drink it away from meals, as it can dilute stomach acid.
- Some may need to heal the gut first before increasing stomach acid, with soothing supplements such as aloe vera.
How I can help:
The right treatment will vary depending on your needs, you may need help with enzymes, bile or stomach acid. Finding the right treatment for you and how often you should increase your stomach acid, is best done under the supervision of a nutritionist. I specialise is this area, so would be pleased to help you.
If you have gastritis or an ulcer, you may need to heal the gut first. I can help you with these issues too.
Achieving the right stomach acid makes such a difference. It not only helps digestion, but also influences our moods. When we don’t have enough or too much we can feel irritable and really tired, as well as other symptoms discussed above.