Baking Soda vs Apple Cider Vinegar for Indigestion Which is Better

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 01/17/2020

Do you have heartburn, acid reflux, belching, or other symptoms? And have you wondered if you should use baking soda vs. apple cider vinegar for indigestion relief? Learn the truth about pH and acid reflux, so that you know which one of these remedies to take.

In this article, I will cover:

Baking soda and apple cider vinegar indigestion remedies on table next to apples.

Alkaline or acidic – which do you want?

First, I want to focus on this idea of the "right" pH for the body. Recently, fads have really pushed the idea that we want to alkalize the body. People tend to link alkaline with health and acid with sickness.

But the truth is, you have to be very specific about what part of the body you are talking about. Certain parts of the body need to be acidic, and certain parts need to be alkaline. As a reminder, anything below a pH of 7 is acidic. And anything above 7 is alkaline.

For example, the pH of the stomach should be between 1 and 3. That is VERY acidic. You need that acidity in order to have healthy digestion. On the other hand, your blood should be slightly alkaline – with a pH between 7.35 and 7.45.

So it is not actually true that alkaline is always better. Sometimes, like with your stomach, you need a lot of acid to stay healthy.

pH scale from acidic to neutral to alkaline, colors and pH value numbers in arch.


 

Are you too acidic or too alkaline?

When we are talking about baking soda vs. apple cider vinegar, how do we know which we should be using? It all comes down to whether you need more acidity or less.

Baking soda will alkalize. And vinegar will add acidity.

In order to know which one you want, you need to know whether you are low in acid or high in it. There are two different conditions to be aware of.

Acidosis text written on torn paper, blue background. Metabolic acidosis concept.


1. Metabolic acidosis

If you have really high acid levels, you have something called metabolic acidosis.

The symptoms of acidosis include:

  • Nervous system irritation.
  • Sighing frequently.
  • Light sensitivity.
  • Dehydration.
  • Lump in the throat when swallowing.
  • Unable to breathe well at high altitudes.
     

There are certain conditions that can make you prone to becoming too acidic. These include:

  1. Keto acidosis. Not to be confused with being in ketosis, keto acidosis is a rare situation that occurs in people with type 1 diabetes. It happens when they have lost control of their blood sugars. The blood sugars get too high and as a result the pH rises. It is a serious condition. But unless have type 1 diabetes, you don't have to worry about this.
  2. Lactic acidosis. This is another serious condition. It can come as a side effect of taking certain medications like metformin. Vitamin B1 and vitamin B12 can help to prevent it.
     

If you have signs of acidosis, you want to lower your acid levels. Baking soda can support that. It will help to alkalize your body and bring things into balance.

Blue alkaline word cloud on white background in shape of water drop. Words like pH, balance, health.


2. Metabolic alkalosis

If you don't have enough acid and are too alkaline, you may have alkalosis.

Symptoms of alkalosis include:

  • Muscle twitching (tetany).
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Dehydration.
  • Allergies.
  • Calcium deposits.
     

If you have alkalosis, you don't want to use any remedies that alkalize the body even more. You are already too alkaline, so that would just make the problems worse.

If you are dealing with alkalosis, you want to increase acidity. In this case, apple cider vinegar would be the preferred option. It will increase acid levels to bring things back into balance.

 

Low stomach acid is a common cause of indigestion

Cut out printed colorful letters arranged to spell indigestion, acid reflux concept.


Contrary to popular belief, indigestion and acid reflux are often caused by too little stomach acid rather than too much.

You see, you want a low pH in your stomach. But sometimes, your stomach doesn't have enough acid or a high enough strength of acid. And the pH can rise up to 4, 5, or even 6. Ideally, it should be between 1 and 3.

The purpose of stomach acid is to break down protein, absorb minerals, and kill pathogens. Without enough of it, you'll be unable to completely digest protein, you'll end up with mineral deficiencies like anemia, and you'll have pathogens around that could get into your system.

Additionally, low stomach acid can prevent the valve at the top of your stomach from staying closed. This can make it so that the acid in your stomach can reflux up into your esophagus. When acid gets into the esophagus, it can cause symptoms of acid reflux like heartburn.

Having too little stomach acid is a condition called hypochlorhydria.

Symptoms of low stomach acid include:

  • Indigestion.
  • GERD.
  • Acid reflux.
  • Heartburn.
  • Anemia.
  • Constipation.
  • Malabsorption.
  • Carcinoma of the stomach.
     

One of the big problems here is that many people take antacids for symptoms of indigestion, heartburn, and acid reflux. But antacids will just make the pH even worse, causing even more reflux into the esophagus. Then you take more heartburn meds and aggravate the problem even further as a side effect. It is a bad cycle. Read more about the negative side effects of antacids here.

If you have low stomach acid, you'll be in alkalosis. And to fix that problem, you want more acidity, not less.

So should you take apple cider vinegar or baking soda?

You'll want to take apple cider vinegar for indigestion, acid reflux, heartburn, and other symptoms of low stomach acid. That will increase the acid level and help prevent reflux and heartburn.

Baking soda would just make your stomach more alkaline. While it might help you temporarily feel better and relieve your symptoms in the moment, it won't actually fix the problem. And it shouldn't be used as a long-term solution. Apple cider vinegar can actually correct the issue and help you feel better in the long run.

Top view of apples, apple cider vinegar bottle and glass, baking soda in jar, and spoon on table.

 

Baking soda vs. apple cider vinegar: the bottom line

As you can see, there are times when your body needs more acidity and there are times when it needs less. Alkalinity isn't always better, and neither is acidity. That's why baking soda is sometimes the preferred choice and other times apple cider vinegar is.

Here are the key takeaways to keep in mind:

  • Use apple cider vinegar when...
    • You have ongoing acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion. Your stomach likely needs more acidity, so adding apple cider vinegar to your diet can help.
  • Use baking soda when...
    • You need temporary relief from acid reflux symptoms.
    • You have symptoms of acidosis such as nervous system irritation, light sensitivity, frequent sighing, and difficulty breathing at high altitude.
       

When it comes to indigestion, apple cider vinegar is the better long-term solution. Baking soda won't help you correct the problem in the long run. It could, however, offer some relief in the short term. apple cider vinegar is a natural digestive aid that can help with indigestion, heartburn, and bloating. It's also a good source of probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that help keep your gut healthy. You might be wondering does apple cider vinegar break a fast and the answer is NO. So if you are on a keto diet and intermittent fasting plan you will be happy to learn about the health benefits of this amazing tonic.

And here's something to keep in mind when it comes to baking soda: just one teaspoon of baking soda will give you 1,200 mg of sodium. That is a lot of sodium. The more sodium you take, the less potassium you'll have in your body. Most of us don't have enough potassium already and we need more of it.

So if you are taking baking soda, make sure to consume lots of potassium-rich foods or a supplement. That will help you keep your sodium and potassium levels at a healthy balance.

Have you ever tried apple cider vinegar for heartburn or acid reflux? Personally, I like to mix 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and 2 teaspoons of lemon in a glass of water in the morning. Learn more about how to take it here. Then give it a try and leave me a comment below!

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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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