Ever get a burning feeling after eating a meal? You may be suffering from acid reflux. Many people dismiss acid reflux as a mere annoyance that you can get rid of using an antacid. But this is the WRONG way to think about it. Acid reflux is one of the body’s warning signals that something may be amiss. In this article, we’ll take you through the importance of stomach acid and how to test and maintain your stomach’s acid levels.
What Does Stomach Acid Do?
Stomach acid aids in your digestion. Digestion is the breaking down of food into molecules that can be absorbed or removed from the body. These molecules are used in the formation of new cells and in the creation of energy.
Although your teeth and other parts of your body help, your stomach acid does most of the work in the digestive process. Stomach acid is composed mainly of hydrochloric acid and pepsin. This acid is produced by the parietal cells in your stomach.
Hydrochloric acid is the primary acid in the digestive process. It breaks down germs and bacteria responsible for infections. It also plays a major role in the absorption of key minerals like magnesium, sodium, and iron. Having a deficiency in any of these will lead to serious complications!
Pepsin is an enzyme which breaks down proteins. It is activated by hydrochloric acid. Needless to say, stomach acid is essential for the well-being of your body.
When we experience acid reflux, we typically associate it with high levels of stomach acid. The solution to stomach problems like heartburn is usually an antacid which works to neutralize stomach acid. This may be the wrong approach! A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found a link between proton-pump inhibiting antacids and dementia. As alarming as this is, many doctors will still recommend antacids.
The Problem with Low Stomach Acid
The problem is that antacids treat hyperacidity. But acid reflux can be caused by a lack of stomach acid too. This lack of stomach acid is also known as “hypochlorhydria“. When the stomach doesn’t have enough acid, food will sit in the stomach and ferment. The fermentation of food results in gas. The escaping gas affects the esophagus and leads to heartburn.
There are many factors which lead to low stomach acids.
- Overeating and eating too quickly.
- Long-term stress.
- Drinking alcohol and carbonated beverages.
- Eating too much protein (especially from red meat), dairy, fatty foods and refined foods.
- Smoking affects many parts of your digestive system. It slows down the healing process of the stomach’s lining.
When someone with low levels of stomach acid takes an antacid, they are getting rid of their digestive and defensive powers.
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If food isn’t broken down adequately you starve the body of many essential nutrients. This leads to a weakened immune system which inevitably causes all sorts of diseases. It’s not an overstatement to say that your gut is one of the most important gateways to your health.
The stomach acid is one of the body’s first lines of defense against harmful viruses and bacteria. One bacteria, H. Pylori is normally destroyed by the stomach acid. When you suffer from low stomach acid, H. Pylori thrives and causes ulcers.
There are many symptoms associated with hypochlorhydria. These range from acid reflux, bloating, constipation, and heartburn. Just looking at these symptoms, the cause can be any number of things aside from a low stomach acid. This is why testing for low stomach acid is important.
Here’s one of the simple ways you can test your stomach acid levels at home yourself.
Betaine HCL is a natural chemical substance derived from beets which enhances stomach acids. Research has found that the stomach’s levels of hydrocholic acid falls with age after the age of 21. Betaine has been recommended by both naturopaths and medical doctors to compensate for hypochlorhydria.
Aside from balancing your stomach acids, betaine may help acne, gallstones, candida, and thyroid function.
This at home test is a simple and effective way of finding out if you have a low stomach acid.
Before you do the low stomach acid test, consult with a trained medical practitioner. If you are taking anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen, you should not take betaine HCL. If you have a history of ulcers or gastritis, do not take the test.
- Start by getting some betaine hydrochloride from a health food store. When shopping for the supplement, make sure to read the ingredients list for any unnecessary fillers or additives.
- At your first meal, take a single capsule. If you notice discomfort, pain, or a warm feeling in your stomach, stop the test. This means your stomach acid levels are healthy.
- If you do not feel this, continue by increasing your dose by one capsule at the next meal. Make sure this meal is roughly the same size as the first. Again check for the sensation.
- Continue to repeat up to at most 7 capsules in a meal.
When you can consume more than one HCL capsule following a meal, it is a sign that you may have hypochlorhydria. The severity of it can be measured by the amount of capsules you can take up to 7 capsules. If you experience the symptoms beyond a single capsule, you can continue to take betaine HCL at a reduced dose.
One big plus to betaine HCL is that it comes at a low cost. The cost of a single capsule ranges from $0.06 to $0.09! Talk about affordable. If you haven’t already gotten some, I recommend looking into it.
Eating a whole foods diet in combination with betaine HCL will help you restore the health of stomach acids. Furthermore, avoid GMO foods and using pharmaceutical drugs. In doing so, you’ll restore the critical functions of your digestive system. A sure-fire way to stay healthy!
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