Six years ago I was diagnosed with G.E.R.D and I was led to believe that I had too much stomach acid. I was taking the strongest PPIs, eating Gaviscon like it was candy, doing my best at following the G.E.R.D diet and still left in daily misery. I suffered for years only to learn far too late that it was most likely that I have too low of stomach acid and have been making the problem worse and worse over the years.
Having too high of stomach acid and too low of stomach acid share the same symptoms, so although anti-acids will relieve the pain, they are only making the root of the problem worse.
This is far too common, and not talked about nearly enough and can cause serious complications such as SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) – which will lead you to have a lactose and gluten intolerance (like me) – and Leaky Gut. Not having enough acid is a serious problem – however, I had to resort to the internet, a naturopath and a gastro specialist because my general doctors (both in Canada and the U.K) hadn’t even heard of “such a thing” (trust me, it’s a thing). Lesson learned? You have to take your health into your own hands.
So how do you know if you have too high or too low of acid levels?
First off, if you have been taking PPIs longer than 6 weeks, and not noticing a significant change, that is an indication that you should be seeking more answers. These medications are extremely strong, so if they’re not making a drastic change in how you feel they are definitely not worth taking and probably making the situation worse. The best home remedy solution to test your acid level is the “baking soda test”.
Baking Soda Test
Mix 1/4th of baking soda into 6 ounces of water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, and drink up! (Yes, it’s gross – but worth it!)
Ignore the first initial burp if you have one, and set a timer.
If you start burping within the first 2-3 minutes you have normal levels or if it was excessive, early burping, high acid levels. If you do not burp after 3-5 minutes it is most likely you have too low of stomach acid.
Now I’m not a doctor and this isn’t a 100% diagnoses, but it can give you a step in the right direction. The next step would be to take the test over a course of a few days and write down your results, consult a professional and seek out a Heidelburg Stomach Acid Test or 24 pH Test.
Apple Cider Vinegar
If you think you have too low of stomach acid you can also try drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed into 8oz of water 30 minutes before every meal. Apple Cider Vinegar will help neutralize and balance your acid level and act as an acid in your stomach to help you with digesting. I suggest drinking the Braggs brand.
If you suspect that you may have too low of stomach acid and are experiencing:
• Extreme bloating (I felt like I was 9 months pregnant by the end of the day!)
• Acid Reflux / Indigestion
• Swinging between constipation and diarrhoea
• Filling up quickly
• Having bad reactions to carbs, lactose and gluten
• Anaemia (low iron)
It is also worth talking to your doctor and asking for a SIBO methane test. Having too low of stomach acid means that bad or too much bacteria can grow in your small intestine which stomach acid usually kills off. This causes irritating symptoms, food intolerances and because your stomach will have trouble absorbing nutrients without acid you will most likely be deficient in many vitamins, especially iron. Leaky Gut Syndrome is also a possibility and worth investigation.
All in all, it is important that you do your own research, and seek out help when you don’t feel that you are getting the answers you need. But most of all, know that anti-acids and high levels of acid aren’t always the right answer. Having low levels of stomach acid is extremely common but often overlooked, seldom discussed and overshadowed by all of the overplayed heartburn and anti-acid commercials. So let’s bring this condition to the forefront of conversation because it’s an important conversation to have.
I hope you find the answers you are looking for and stay dedicated to living a healthy and happy life.