If you’re having symptoms such as acid reflux, heartburn, burping, gas, bloating, or nausea after eating, then it’s very likely that you have a stomach acid issue.
Correcting issues with stomach acidity is absolutely key to improving any sorts of digestive issues… and although some people do have TOO MUCH acid, it’s actually a lot more common to have TOO LITTLE stomach acid.
WHY IS STOMACH ACID IMPORTANT?
The acidity in the stomach is one of the very first steps of digestion, and it triggers a chain reaction for all of the other digestive processes —release of digestive enzymes, closing of the sphincter to prevent reflux, etc. So when there is low acidity in the stomach, the whole system falls apart!
It’s also your first line of defence against bacteria, parasites, etc. If the acidity in your stomach is not high enough to kill the bugs, they will accumulate in your digestive tract, causing a lot of problems.
A side note on anti-acid medication: It’s very unfortunate that most people presenting with acid reflux and other digestive issues get prescribed a proton pump inhibitor (like Nexium or losec), because although those might help reduce the burning sensation in the short term, if your issues are caused by too little acid, these will make your problems much worse in the long term.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE LOW STOMACH ACID?
The gold standard to diagnose low stomach acid (the medical term being hypochlorhydria) is a test called the Heidelberg test. However, it’s pretty invasive, expensive, and is very rarely performed.
So instead, we’re going to share two super simple tests you can do at home to help you determine if you might have low stomach acid. These are not diagnostic, but we’ve found them to be remarkably accurate, so well worth a try.
Riddler’s Point For Gastric Acidity (HCL point)
1- Locate your xyphoid process (at the tip of your sternum)
2- From the tip of the xyphoid process, measure about 2 cm down (the length of the last part of your index finger, from tip to the first joint)
3- From there, go in a straight line to the left until you hit the ribs. Rub from side to side in this area, on the rib margin, and note how that feels.
Results: If it’s a bit sore in this area (or very sore), it might indicate that you are low in stomach acid.
Bicarbonate of Soda Test
This test is based on the chemical reaction between acidity and bicarbonate of soda.
We recommend doing it on an empty stomach 3 mornings in a row to get a more accurate result.
WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE LOW STOMACH ACID?
We recommend supplementing with Betaine HCL to increase your stomach acidity (lower your pH).
We love HCL Guard from Healthy Gut, which also contains a few other powerful ingredients, such as intrinsic factor (essential for vitamin B12 absorption), ginger (to stimulate motility, including the migrating motor complex) and DGL and help protect your stomach lining.
To learn more about Betaine HCL, including how to take it, check out our blog post: Digestive Enzyme vs Betaine HCL