January 16

How to Safely Increase Stomach Acid Naturally



If you have made diet and lifestyle changes but are still having symptoms like heartburn, burping, excessive gas or nausea shortly after eating then you may need to address balancing your stomach acid to a higher level. Below we will tell you how to safely increase stomach acid naturally.

Low stomach acid (Hypochlorhydria), is a commonly overlooked problem that is linked to diseases such as gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), Celiac Disease, leaky gut, stomach cancer, asthma, dementia, and rheumatoid arthritis. More than 90% of people have inadequate levels of stomach acid.

What You Will Learn

  • Low stomach acid is the underlying cause of many digestive system ailments
  • Why does acid reflux medicine work for you if acid reflux is caused by too little stomach acid?
  • Natural remedies to increase your stomach acid naturally
  • How to safely increase your stomach acid – in 5 steps
  • Sufficient stomach acid (HCl) is required for protein digestion in the gastrointestinal tract.

    But Isn't Too Much Stomach Acid the Problem?

    It took me years to come to terms with the fact that heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD are caused by low stomach acid when common sense and the TV commercials told me that heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD are all caused by excess stomach acid!

    And I guess I’m not alone. Americans spent over $16 billion on acid reflux medication last year alone. Are we all wrong? In most cases, YES!

    Low Stomach Acid Causes Acid Reflux

    When I first heard that low stomach acid was the cause of my acid reflux my first thought was, then why do antacid tablets, proton pump inhibitors, and H2 Blockers work for me?

    What I failed to realize is that many of the symptoms of low stomach acid and excess stomach acid are the same.

    In order for your food to be properly digested and the nutrients absorbed your stomach must be highly acidic. If you have acid reflux, GERD, heartburn, leaky gut, or IBS; these are all indicators of low stomach acid. The normal pH for a healthy stomach is 1.5 to 3.5 (Note: the lower the pH number, the higher the acidity).

    Consequences of Low Stomach Acid (Hypochlorhydria)

    • Low stomach acid causes acid reflux two ways. 1. Stomach acid should increase when food is ingested. The increased stomach acid trigger the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to close tightly. If you have insufficient stomach acid the LES will remain slightly open. 2. Low stomach acid will decrease the digestion of foods causing them to ferment and bloat the stomach. This added pressure will force stomach contents past the partially open LES and into the esophagus.

    • Wіthоut аdеԛuаtе acid, you cannot properly break dоwn рrоtеіnѕ into аmіnо acids. Lасk оf amino асіdѕ іn thе bloodstream mеаnѕ lеѕѕ available neurotransmitters whісh саn mean mооd dіѕоrdеrѕ lіkе depression. Thіѕ рооr protein dіgеѕtіоn can аlѕо lead to hаіr lоѕѕ аnd brіttlе nаіlѕ.

    • Low stomach асіd fosters іmbаlаnсеd gut flora. Pаthоgеnіс and food borne bасtеrіа, usually kіllеd by thе low ѕtоmасh рH, саn make their wау іntо thе іntеѕtіnеѕ. Furthеr, lасk of acidity іn the ѕtоmасh mаkеѕ іt more hospitable tо bacterial growth. Lоw ѕtоmасh асіd саn pave the way for аn H. Pylori infection.

    • Hуросhlоrhуdrіа lеаdѕ tо nutrient malabsorption. Sресіfісаllу, whеn proteins аrеn’t fullу brоkеn dоwn, B12 аbѕоrрtіоn іѕ dіѕruрtеd. Folate аnd nоnhеmе іrоn absorption are also аffесtеd bу lоw stomach асіd. 
      Inаdеԛuаtе ѕtоmасh асіd оftеn mеаnѕ соnѕtіраtіоn, bloating, gаѕ аnd bеlсhіng. Wіth inadequate acid, fооd ѕіtѕ іn thе ѕtоmасh аnd putrefies instead of bеіng рrореrlу dіgеѕtеd.

    • Leaky gut and thеrеfоrе create fооd allergies саn result. Imрrореrlу dіgеѕtеd ѕtаrсhеѕ fоѕtеr the оvеrgrоwth оf pathogenic bacteria lоwеr in thе ѕmаll intestine. Thеѕе орроrtunіѕtіс bugѕ саuѕе the junсtіоnѕ bеtwееn intestinal cells tо lооѕеn, creating a соndіtіоn саllеd leaky gut. Undigested proteins аnd оthеr fооd particles escape іntо thе blооdѕtrеаm through these сеll gарѕ. Then, fооd аllеrgіеѕ dеvеlор as the body rеасtѕ bу сrеаtіng antibodies tо thеѕе fоrеіgn раrtісlеѕ іn the blооd.

    Steps to Increase Your Stomach Acid Naturally

    Please consult your doctor before trying any of these in case you have any underlying condition or are on other medication that could cause adverse reactions for you. 

    WARNING: If you are currently taking Proton Pump Inhibitors or H2 Blockers, don’t attempt Step 1 or Step 3 until you have successfully weaned off of them. Do not attempt to wean yourself off of these medications on your own. Get advice from your doctor on how to do this safely. The last thing you want to experience is a rebound in gastric acid production.

    Listed below are 5 steps to increase your stomach acid naturally. Please don’t attempt to make these lifestyle changes all at once. Try the first step for a week or so, then add the next and try those together for a week or two. Over time add the remaining steps always monitoring how you feel. 

    STEP 1: Take Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Before High Protein Meals

    Apple cider vinegar

    Apple cider vinegar can increase your stomach acid relieving heartburn

    A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar either mixed in a glass of water or followed by a glass of water seems to help the majority of people. Take this about 20-30 minutes prior to eating a meal containing protein.

    Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a great natural remedy for low stomach acid because ACV is has a very low pH and can balance a high pH stomach to a lower level. I’m not a big fan of the taste of ACV – at the end, I have listed a recipe that will make taking ACV a more tolerable.

    STEP 2: Take Digestive Enzymes With Your Meals

    Along with your ACV, you can also take digestive enzymes. There are many different brands. Look for a blend that contains these ingredients: Pectin, Lipase, Bromelain, Papaya, Tumeric, and Fennel. 

    These are all natural ingredients that aid in digestion, reduce stomach bloating., and enhance stomach emptying. Follow the directions on the label but in general 1-2 capsules taking prior or immediately after meals should be sufficient. You will not need to do this forever, just until your stomach acid levels are balanced.

    STEP 3: Take Betaine Hydrochloride (HClBefore High Protein Meals

    WARNING: Do not take Betaine HCl if you are currently taking acid reflux medication. Do not take Betaine HCl if you are taking any anti-inflammatory medication such as corticosteroids, aspirin, Indocin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or other NSAIDsThese drugs can damage the stomach lining, and Betaine could aggravate this problem.  

    I’ve had fantastic results taking Betaine HCl. I went through the protocol I’ve covered elsewhere on this site, and I was able to balance my stomach acid very quickly. Follow this protocol to safely determine how many you should take.

    A good rule of thumb is to start with one pill with each big meal you eat and stay at that for a few days. After a few days start taking two pills, repeat the process until you find the number of pills that cause digestive distress then back off by one pill. Also, avoid drinking liquid (especially water) while eating, try only to sip but drink as much as you want between meals.

    I started off needing 3 capsules and gradually reduced to just one. I’m still using my original bottle and only take it rarely now; just if I’m going to eat a large high protein meal with lots of fat.

    Betaine With Pepsin

    Some Betaine formulations also contain Pepsin. My recommendation is to purchase Betaine and digestive enzymes separately because chances are that you will take the enzymes after you no longer need to take Betaine.

    Betaine With Fenugreek

    I buy Betaine that also contains Fenugreek. Fenugreek soothe the gastrointestinal tract by providing mucilage to calm down inflammation by coating the lining of the stomach and intestines. Personaly I didn't find the Fenugreek to be noticably beneficial. 

    STEP 4: Take a Teaspoon Manuka Honey

    Manuka honey comes from New Zealand; it is antimicrobial, so it can help fight microbial overgrowth (bad bacteria) in the stomach that can occur when you have low stomach acid. Manuka honey also promotes the growth of good bacteria in your gut.

    I recommend taking a teaspoon just before bedtime – it tastes great, and the extra carbs will help you sleep. 

    STEP 5: Make Some Lifestyle Changes

    I’ll break this down into Permanent changes and Temporary changes you just need to make until you have balanced your stomach acid levels.

    Permanent Lifestyle Changes to Increase Your Stomach Acid Naturally

    1. Chew Your Food Thoroughly
      Chewing your food is the first step in digestion. Smaller pieces of food mixed with saliva will be digested much quicker. Chew each mouthful at least thirty times before swallowing. This will help you lose body fat effortlessly. It takes about twenty minutes for the vagus nerve to tell your brain that you have eaten enough. Start with a salad or soup and then have your main meal ten minutes later and slow your eating so that it takes twenty minutes to finish your meal you will not be hungry but will feel satisfied.

    2. Eat Smaller Meals (Eat Less)
      Smaller meals are easier on the digestive process. If your stomach is constantly digesting food, it has no opportunity to heal. Consider reducing meal sizes or even trying intermittent fasting.

    3. If You are Overweight, Lose Body Fat
      Notice I say lose body fat and not lose weight. A lot of people just want to lose weight and go on a hyper-restrictive, calorie reduced diet. As a result, they do lose a lot of weight, but over 50% of that loss is muscle. This lowers their metabolism, requiring further restriction to continue losing weight.

      This calorie restriction can’t be maintained for long so when they go off the diet all the weight comes back as exclusively fat. Even if they now weigh the same as before they started, they are fatter than before because the muscle never came back and their metabolism is lower than before.

      If you have more than 20% body fat (for men) or 25% (for women) reducing your fat levels will have a profound impact on your health and longevity.

    4. Don’t Lie Down After Eating and Maintain Perfect Posture
      I’m sure most of you have had acid reflux shortly after going to bed. Gravity helps the LES keep your food in the stomach but lying down removes this advantage putting the esophagus and the opening to the stomach as the same level. The least bit of stomach bloating will easily push your stomach contents past your LES and into your esophagus. If you have no choice but to lie down, lie on your left side or get one of those wedge pillows.

    5. Be Conscious of Your Posture
      The biggest breakthrough for me in the battle against acid reflux was discovering the effect of posture on this awful disease. I find that if I feel heartburn coming on, I can stop it immediately just by straightening up my posture. Poor posture can also put the LES at a disadvantage for keeping your stomach contents from backing up into the esophagus. Maintaining good posture will correct this almost immediately. Read more about this Here.

    Temporary Lifestyle Changes to Increase Your Stomach Acid Naturally

    1. Intermittent Fasting
      I won’t go into much detail about this. The benefits are immense and how to do it is all over the internet – just search intermittent fasting. Basically, you will go 16 hours without eating – this includes the hours you are asleep, so it's not so bad. Don’t try to do this right away. The easiest way I’ve found is to gradually wait an extra hour every few days until I have postponed breakfast to 1:00 pm. You’ll be surprised how great you feel after doing this for a few weeks.

    2. Avoid Trigger Foods
      Everyone who suffers from acid reflux should have a pretty good idea of what triggers acid reflux for them. Avoid these until you have your stomach acid balanced. Then you can gradually reintroduce some of your favorites back into your diet. There may still be some that trigger your acid reflux even then, but it’s unlikely. Read more about Trigger Foods Here.

    3. Stop Drinking Shortly Before Eating And While You Are Eating
      Drinking water, especially cold water, before or while eating will dilute your stomach acid counteracting your efforts to increase your stomach acid levels. Drinking alcohol or carbonated drinks will also dilute your stomach with the added bonus of causing additional stomach bloating.

    RECIPE: The Balance Your Stomach Acid Drink

    A few minutes prior to eating a high protein meal drink this.

    To a glass add:

    • 1-2 Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar
    • 4 ounces of grapefruit juice
    • 1 teaspoon of Manuka Honey
    • (Optional) Add a tincture of Swedish Bitters

    Mix thoroughly by hand or in a blender and drink just prior to eating a high protein meal.

    Summary Of How To Increase Stomach Acid Naturally

    If you have acid reflux or GERD, the best thing you can do is rebalance your stomach acid. This can be done safely using natural ingredients:

    • Apple Cider Vinegar
    • Digestive Enzymes
    • Betaine HCl
    • Manuka Honey
    • Lifestyle Changes.


    1. "Hypochlorhydria - lack of stomach acid - can cause lots of problems" 16 Jan. 2015  http://drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/hypochlorhydria_-_lack_of_stomach_acid_-_can_cause_lots_of_problems


    The information contained here does not constitute medical advice and is not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure disease. Please contact your doctor. The information provided is for informational purposes only and are solely the views of the author.

    Low Stomach Acid is the Main Cause of Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and GERD

    Please Leave a Comment

  • Hi David,

    If I take betaine and enyzmes like you did, how do I know when my acid is on normal level and I can stop taking betaine? Do I afterwards still need to take enzymes everyday?


    • Hi Kayla,
      I never took betaine if the meal did not contain protein (meat). It’s not necessary if you are only eating salad. It’s best if you can find betaine capsules that contain only 250 – 300 mg of betaine but these are hard to find and are more expensive. These smaller capsules allow you to increase more gradually than with the standard 500mg capsules. I used 500mg because it was all I could find.

      This is how I determined how much betaine to take:
      In the middle of your next meal (containing meat) take one betaine capsule. Check how you are feeling about 20 minutes after the meal. The response you are looking for is a warm sensation in your stomach like you just drank a cup of hot tea. This should feel nothing like heartburn. If you do not feel this sensation, at each subsequent large meal (containing meat) take one additional capsule of betaine. Continue adding one additional capsule with each meal until you feel this sensation. When you feel it, at your next meal reduce back to your previous number of capsules, i.e. if you took 4 caps and felt the sensation go back to taking 3 caps at your next and subsequent meals. Continue at this level until you experience the warm feeling again. This indicates that you now need less betaine. Reduce by one more capsule at your next large meat meal. Continue this until you are no longer taking any betaine. I found this took me 4 – 6 weeks. Occasionally I will still take one capsule after a meal if I feel like symptoms are coming on. This happens once or twice every 6 months. If you find the warm sensation annoying you can drink a quarter teaspoon of baking soda in an 8oz glass of warm water. Repeat every 20 minutes until it goes away. Hope this helps Kayla. Thanks for the question.

  • Is there a substitute for HCL supplements for Hypochlorhydria? Unfortunately, I am not able to tolerate them, although they do provide relief. Thank you

    • Hi Julie, I believe apple cider vinegar (ACV) may help. I’ve tried ACV but couldn’t get past the taste so I didn’t try it for long. It is also hard on tooth enamel and because of my years of GERD my tooth enamel is already compromised. I’ve never tried Digestive Bitters but I have read that they are helpful. I’m curious – what issues did you have with betaine HCl?

  • Hi, I have chronic mild heartburn and acid reflux for the past 3 months. Everytime I time PPI’s, I get temporary relief, but stopping makes me worse than where I started. Like I did not face acid reflux while going to sleep intially, after taking PPI’s , I started getting this symptoms too.

    I did the baking soda test too. 1st day – immediate burping after 10 seconds and on 2nd and 3rd day, burped after 6-7 minutes. Does it indicate low stomach acid? And if it is low stomach acid, why do I suffer increased acid reflux on eating tomato(cooked tomatoes) with Indian bread(Roti)? And cucumbers do give me temporary relief(isn’t supposed to be relief for hyper-acidity). So is it low stomach acid?

    • Hi Varun, PPI’s are actually meant for people with ulcers, to reduce stomach acid while the ulcer heals. They are not meant to be taken longer than 8 weeks. They will offer temporary relief, as you state, but in the long term they make GERD worse by stopping the natural creation of stomach acid completely. There is a study that was done back in the 1990s where they took a group of subjects who had no history of GERD or acid reflux disease and gave them PPIs for a short period of time (I can’t recall how long exactly – 2 months I think). At the end of the study, when they stopped the PPIs every one of the test subjects had GERD.

      From your baking soda test results, I would say that you definitely have low stomach acid. The reason tomatoes can cause acid reflux is because tomatoes can irritate the LES causing it to swell so that it won’t close tightly enough to keep stomach acid in your stomach. The bread, because of low stomach acid, will stay undigested in your stomach for a longer than normal time and will cause bloating. The pressure of the bloating forces your stomach contents back up through the LES and into the esophagus. Cucumbers are mostly water and therefore easily digested and don’t stay in the stomach long enough to cause bloating. They may also soothe the inflamed LES.
      You may find this article gives more details on foods and GERD: https://theacidrefluxsolution.com/foods-you-should-avoid-if-you-have-gerd-and-why/
      Hope this helps.

  • hey i struggle with acid as well, would you reccommend taking enzymes and betaine on the same meal with protein? also does it have to be taken before or during the meal , as i want the both of these supplemets to be effective . also would you recommend opening your enzymes and swallowing withouth the plastic layer, however ive heard that it might get killed by the acid. thank you for the answers : )

    • Hi Jess, Great questions.
      Initially, I took a supplement with Betaine and enzymes in the same capsule. After a few months, my stomach acid levels had increased sufficiently that I was able to stop taking Betaine and just took the enzymes. I only take betaine now if I am consuming a large protein meal, like a large steak. The studies say to take the Betaine about 20 minutes prior to eating but I found that it made little difference. I even got good results taking the betaine after eating if I felt I was getting heartburn. I would not recommend taking the enzymes out of the capsules and ingesting the powder. definitely don’t do this with the betaine capsules.

  • Hi thank you for the informative article.. So clearly and simply explained. I’m a vegetarian. Do I need betaine Hcl? Acv is good enough?

    • Hi Vandana, Thanks for your question. In my opinion, regardless of being a vegetarian, you should still increase your stomach acid levels to the normal level. Once you get to normal levels you can stop taking betaine. Having said that, ACV should give you the same results – it might take a bit longer. Myself, I prefer taking betaine because I don’t like the taste of ACV.

  • Dear
    Please note that my friend is 50 year old and have acidity issue with him. He is very thin. what steps he has to take to gain some weight.

    • With the limited information you have supplied and without a medical history and without seeing him it would be impossible to diagnose anyone by email. He should go see his family doctor. You don’t say if he has GERD or Acid Reflux. Any other conditions? Is he on medication for these and if so what? What do you mean by “He has an acidity issue”? Are you saying he has low stomach acid and needs to be more acidic? Have you read the article on here about “Determining if you have Hypochlorhydria” and “How to Safely Increase Stomach Acid”. I will not attempt to diagnose via email.

    • Hi Teresa,
      Thanks for your comment. I will add these to the article in the near future. I have tried a number of different brands of Betaine HCL. The brand that I think is the best is called Enzymatik Control by a company called ATP(Athletic Therapeutic Pharma). ATP is a Canadian company and all of their supplements are top-notch. The only problem I find with them is the names of their products. I doubt Enzymatik Control would ever come back in a search for Betaine. I found it just by chance – I was on their website and was reviewing all of there products. They all have counter-intuitive names. This product is fantastic. Besides having 400g of Betaine HCL it has these enzymes: Cellulase, Amylase, Hemicellulase, Lactase, Pectinase, Protease, Invertase, and Alpha-Galactosidase. I highly recommend this brand. Also, beware of the price – they aren’t cheap. I have no affiliation with this company. I will add some cheaper brands to the site with links where they can be purchased.
      I hope this helps you.
      Best Regards

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