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11 Signs of Low Stomach Acid

Could your issue be Low Stomach Acid?

All too often people have heartburn, indigestion or nausea and go to see their doctor. Just for them to be prescribed PPI’s and told this will sort it out. This may temporarily calm things down. But in the long run, if the issue is Low stomach acid. Which is extremely common and actually more common than having too much acid. Then you are likely to run into lots more digestive issues.

We need stomach acid, it helps kill off bacteria and parasites, and it’s needed for your stomach to empty properly.

When you have adequate levels of acid. Your body quickly breaks down your food and then shuts off the stomach acid.

When it is low or weak. The acid remains in the stomach and tries to break down any foods that are there.

This weak acid volume can increase and that extra volume of acid sitting constantly in your stomach can cause gastritis. And if the volume gets too high, it can cause heartburn.

The issue with PPI’s is they shut off your acid and while they help with the burning. they actually make the situation worse because they destroy your digestive system. 

low stomach acid symptoms

Symptoms

  • Bloating
  • Burping/painful wind
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Feeling very full after a meal, even just a few mouthfuls
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Hair loss (particularly in women)
  • Weak fingernails
  • Tiredness 
  • Itchiness around the rectum

Causes 

  • High Stress levels 
  • Alcohol 
  • Age – Its more common as you get older to get low stomach acid, especially in the over-65’s 
  • Medication – Some medicines that are prescribed to help with digestive issues such as PPI’s can cause issues when taken for a long time. Its best to speak to your GP about this before stopping any medication. 
  • Vitamin deficiency 
  • High sugar intake 

Low Stomach Acid Test

Baking soda test

There is a home test that you can do. It’s not a medically proven method but it can give you an indication of possible issues. 

The idea is that there is a chemical reaction when bicarbonate of soda and stomach acid mix. This creates carbon dioxide gas resulting in a burp.

This needs to be done first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

  • Mix 1/4 of a teaspoon of Bicarbonate of soda (Baking soda if you’re from the US) with 4 ounces of room temperature water 
  • Drink it and then time how long it takes till you burp. It may not be a big burp, it may just feel like a bubbly feeling coming up. 
  • If you don’t burp within the first 5 minutes then this is a sign that you have low stomach acid. 

For the best results, it’s best to do the test every day for 3 days. So that you have an average result. 

Betaine HCL test

Another way to determine if you have low stomach acid is to take Betaine HCL.

This is essentially stomach acid. If you take it and get a burning sensation, it’s an indication that you already have adequate levels of acid and that low acid is not an issue. 

Betaine HCl is a good way to test stomach acid. But it can be hard to know safe levels to use and so is best done with the help of a naturopath, nutritionist etc

I have used this one but there are lots of different options available.

Click on image to look on Amazon

You do need to start slowly and build up the amount of Betaine HCL with Pepsin you have.

You need to eat a meal with protein and take a capsule halfway through the meal. If you feel a burning sensation then you have enough acid already. But if you feel nothing at all you may have low acid. Do the same for a few days to give a more accurate result. 

Heal your stomach lining first

If you are suffering from gastritis though it’s important to heal your stomach before you do this. As otherwise, it may cause you more pain.

You need to find things that work for you to heal the mucosal stomach lining. Things like DGL, aloe vera and slippery elm prove helpful with lots of gastritis sufferers. Do this for 3-4 weeks before trying the Betaine HCL.

These are two things I used to make sure my stomach was healed when taking Betaine HCL.

Slippery elm is great to take long term, it’s very soothing and coats the stomach well.

Click on image to look on Amazon

I also think DGL is a great supplement to use, it has been shown to increase mucus production. Which can help protect the stomach lining allowing it to repair itself.

Click on image to look on Amazon

Low stomach acid treatment

So if you suspect you do have weak stomach acid, what can you do to increase the acid levels.

Digestive bitters

I found using digestive bitters really useful for increasing stomach acid levels.

They help the body by stimulating the tastebuds. Sending a signal to the rest of the body, to start producing the digestive juices needed to digest food.

There are lots of types available but I use the Swedish bitters. It’s only a small bottle but it lasts ages.

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Celery Juice

Celery juice is something I have found is amazing for lots of digestive issues. It’s also known to help the body restore its HCL levels.

For more information on how to make celery juice etc see here

11 Signs you might have Low Stomach Acid

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