Stomach acid must be one of the most greatly misunderstood things in modern day medicine. Did you know that more than $10 billion worth of antacids are sold annually, and it is believed that over 100 million Americans experience heart burn monthly? So, stomach acid must be quite a significant problem when it comes to our health. Stomach acid is created by the body to assist with digestion – largely of the proteins that we consume. But do so many of us really have too much acid?
Many modern day functional doctors don’t believe that this is the case. I in fact, was one of those people diagnosed with GERD or acid reflux. I was prescribed a medicine to reduce the production of this acid and ended up having an operation to fix my hiatus hernia. But when I investigated further I started to wonder whether I really in fact had too much stomach acid. I felt the burning in my throat each night of what I thought was acid. I was losing my voice because I thought this acid was damaging my vocal chords. But what I discovered was actually quite the opposite. When I did a simple test to see how much acid I had the results were quite surprising – in fact my body wasn’t making nearly enough.
What has happened in our modern day, rushed and stressed lifestyles is that our bodies production of stomach acid has dramatically declined. When we now eat protein our bodies cannot digest properly and the food begins to ferment. To add to this, your stomach valves are designed to only open to let food out of your stomach when the right level of acidity is achieved. A lack of stomach acid therefore hinders the entire operation of your stomach. As the food that you have eaten ferments it creates a burning sensation that often moves up your throat, especially as you sleep, creating an ‘acid’ reflux effect.
To determine whether you in fact have too little or too much acid you can perform a simple test:
- At night before you go to bed leave 1/4 Teaspoon of baking soda and a small glass of pure water (120 mls or so) next to your bed;
- The next morning when you wake up before you do anything else add the baking soda to the water and drink it
- Wait for a few minutes
- Record how long it takes you to burp
- If you burp within 1 minute your stomach acid is good
1 to 2 minutes not bad
More than 2 minutes on the low side
More than 3 minutes low
This test is not very scientific but is certainly a great guide.
Symptoms of low stomach acid include:
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Bloating, cramping, and/or gas
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Food sensitivities and/or allergies
- Dry skin or hair and/or brittle nails
- Hair loss in women
- Chronic fatigue
- Gut issues like IBS
Once you have done the test, and if your acid is low, you might like to incorporate some lifestyle changes to improve your acid levels.
- Try adding a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinger to water (make it as strong as you can tolerate without burning yourself) and drink this morning and night.
- Add Apple Cider Vinegar to meals.
- Consider buying an acid supplement and taking one with each protein meal that you eat during the day. This is a good option – Metagenics Spectrazyme Metagest.