Stomach acid is critical for healthy digestion, and many people do not realize they have issues. When people go to the doctor with the symptoms of bloating, heartburn, and acid reflux, most doctors will prescribe acid reducers that only correct the problem temporarily. It is almost like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. Because there is no lab test for stomach acid, many doctors simply try a bandaid approach to treatment. Unfortunately, this approach often makes the problem worse for many people.
How Can Stomach Acid Levels Be Tested?
Stomach acid issues can occur at any age. Many people do not realize they have problems until their symptoms become pronounced. Often, heartburn and other issues are caused by a lack of stomach acid, called hypochlorhydria. The following are some of the ways to test for stomach acid concerns. Those who experience stomach acid issues should consider full-spectrum digestive enzymes.
- A gastric acid secretion test is one of the best ways to determine the level of acid in the stomach. This test is highly expensive and is often only carried out on patients with ulcers. This test determines if materials from the intestines are leaking back into the stomach.
- The Heidelberg Stomach Acid Test is considered the gold standard for testing stomach acid levels. A small capsule is swallowed by the patient. This capsule contains a radio transmitter that measures the pH of the stomach as an individual drinks a solution of baking soda. The baking soda naturally neutralizes the pH of the stomach. If the body does not return the levels to normal, the individual may have hypochlorhydria.
- CBC and CMP are two tests that can help diagnose a patient with stomach acid issues. These levels are determined via a blood test.
- The Betaine HCl challenge is highly informative and can be conducted at home. False positives are possible, so individuals need to conduct the challenge a minimum of three times to get accurate results.
Healthy Ways to Regulate Stomach Acid Levels
Supporting healthy stomach acid levels is essential for proper digestion. Many people experience stomach acid issues because of underlying health concerns or poor diets. The following tips can help a person manage their stomach acid levels naturally.
- It is important to start each meal with protein. Protein helps stimulate digestive enzymes that are critical for the digestion of food.
- Chewing foods thoroughly is also essential. Many people eat far too quickly and do not chew their food effectively. The body has to work much harder to digest larger pieces of food that have not been chewed properly.
- Limiting liquid consumption is also integral for helping maintain proper stomach acid levels. Wait at least thirty minutes to consume a beverage after eating.
- Supplementing with Betaine hydrochloride can be highly beneficial for those with low stomach acid levels. These supplements safely restore stomach acid levels immediately and can aid in digestion.
- HCI with pepsin is another supplement that benefits stomach acid levels. This supplement should be taken when individuals are consuming meat because it helps with breaking down these foods.
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The right plan for helping stomach acid levels should be individualized, based on the person’s underlying condition. Heartburn, acid reflux, and bloating can all be treated by using the methods above. It is important to first seek a diagnosis from a doctor before seeking any form of treatment for low stomach acid levels.