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
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.
5 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
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 (HCl) Before 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 NSAIDs. These 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- "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.