In order to properly digest food, the stomach needs a certain amount of something called Hydrochloric Acid (HcL). This acid is produced and secreted by tiny cells in the stomach and gives the stomach a pH of roughly 2.2. This helps us fully break down food. It may be counter intuitive but acid reflux is often times more often a problem of having insufficient stomach acid rather than too little. When there is insufficient acid, food doesn’t break down properly. The undigested particles can travel back up the esophageal sphincter. The regurgitation carries acid back up the esophagus where it burns tissues that are not designed to handle such an acidic pH. This feels like having too much acid and can be mistaken as such.
Tums and other ant-acids worsen the problem over the long term. They reduce the acid production even further. Tums are made out of a calcium base. Calcium is an acid bound mineral so it temporarily binds to the stomach acid and feels soothing, yet compromises digestion function and makes breakdown and protein and B12 absorption very difficult since it leaves you with little acidity.
Symptoms of low acid:
Bloating, belching, burning, gas after meals, fullness after eating even a small meal, indigestion, IBS symptoms, skin conditions, iron deficiency, parasites, yeast or undigested food in stool.
Digestion/gut health is the root of most disease so long term low acid can cause a range of problems including osteoporosis, mood problems, gallbladder disease, autoimmune, rapid aging, etc.
How to test your stomach acid levels at home. Time to be your own chemist!
1. First thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything, mix ¼ teaspoon of baking soda in 4 ounces of cold water
2. Drink the solution
3. Set a timer and see how long it takes you to burp.
4. If you have sufficient levels of stomach acid, the bicarbonate in the baking soda will convert into carbon dioxide gas which should cause belching in less than 3 minutes. If you burp repeatedly before 2 minutes you either swallowed too much air or you have too much acid.
a. Burping around 2-3 minutes is sufficient acid
b. After 3 minutes is insufficient acid
c. Rapid burping before 2 minute is (possibly) too much acid
If you have reflux but did not burp within the first few minutes, it is highly likely that you need to work on digestive function. Here are some suggestions, based on much research and experience, to help you with that process. These are basic instructions. For a more in-depth healing protocol for acid reflux, please schedule a consultation.
1. Drink ginger tea ginger in the morning and/or take digest herbs. You must taste the bitter herbs on your tongue! This flavor is what cues the production of acid. Do not swallow without tasting.
2. Take a TSP of raw and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar in water once every couple days
3. Chew food incredibly well. Aim for 25-50 chews per bite. This is huge. It takes a massive load off the digestive system and allows healing to start happening. I can not stress how important it is to chew your food!
4. Equally as important as chewing, is choosing food that is easy to digest while you heal. This means:
a. Warm foods (cold foods halt acid production)
b. No ice water or liquid with your meals (liquid dilutes acid and causes more of a problem)
c. Eat food that is simple, do not combine a ton of stuff at once. Eat like a peasant not a king!
d. Eat food that is free of chemicals, processing and preservatives. In other words, cook your own meals