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The Best Way to Know If You Have Low Stomach Acid

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/10/2024

Low stomach acid can have devastating effects on your health, but most people aren't even aware of the signs indicating they are suffering from this issue.

Learn about low stomach acid, the side effects it causes, and what steps to take so you can prevent this issue.

Understanding Low Stomach Acid

The acid in your stomach can be a significant factor in your well-being, but it usually goes unnoticed until something's off. When levels are optimal, you may not even think about it.

The Role of Stomach Acid in Digestion

Stomach acid is crucial for breaking down proteins into amino acids the body can use. It preps food so the rest of your digestive system can do its job more efficiently.

This potent liquid also works in our intestines by keeping out harmful bacteria and pathogens.

Consequences of Insufficient Stomach Acid

If you don't have enough stomach acid, things start to go wrong. Your body struggles to break down protein properly, and absorption rates for essential minerals like iron and B12 drop dramatically.

You might develop pernicious anemia because, without sufficient stomach acid, vitamin B12 just can't be absorbed effectively source. So, let's make sure we understand this process better.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Low Stomach Acid

The usual suspects are indigestion and stomach pain. When too little acid is present, it can cause a bloated feeling that lasts for extended periods.

Studies show that feeling unusually full after eating may hint at this condition. Nausea too often tags along when acid levels drop.

Post-meal Issues

Burping out gas bubbles more than average? This could be another sign of low stomach acid. Excessive intestinal gas post-meals is socially awkward and signals digestion trouble.

A surprising twist: heartburn can also occur due to insufficient stomach acid. So, when heartburn hits you harder than a stormy karaoke night, consider checking your gastric juice pH before reaching for antacids.

The Link Between Low Stomach Acid and GERD

Low stomach acid, or hypochlorhydria, is often the underlying cause of GERD symptoms. This might sound surprising because GERD is typically associated with excess acidity.

Misconceptions about GERD Treatment

It's commonly believed that antacids are the go-to solution for treating heartburn and other signs of GERD. They do provide temporary relief by neutralizing stomach acid, but they don't address the root cause if it's due to low stomach acid.

Studies indicate that, in many cases, those with continual heartburn have lower-than-usual amounts of stomach acid. This mismatch between symptom management and underlying conditions can worsen digestive issues over time, as seen in this study.

When we suppress our body's natural production of hydrochloric acid using antacids, we're merely masking symptoms instead of fixing them.

A better understanding could help reframe how we approach treatment strategies for those experiencing regular episodes of heartburn or diagnosed with GERD. So, let's dive deeper into why less may be more regarding our gut health.

Natural Remedies to Increase Stomach Acid Levels

Increasing stomach acid levels naturally can help improve digestion and overall health. Two effective remedies have shown promise in boosting these levels.

apple cider vinegar

The Power of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a widely used natural remedy with multiple health benefits, including the capacity to raise stomach acid levels. Its acidic nature helps stimulate your body's production of gastric juices.

Mix one tablespoon into a glass of water before meals for best results. This not only aids in digestion but also assists with nutrient absorption, particularly protein and vitamins from food.

Betaine Hydrochloride Supplements

If you're looking for more targeted support, consider betaine hydrochloride supplements. These supplements mimic the acidity level in your stomach. They kick-start digestion by increasing the production of pepsin - an enzyme needed for breaking down proteins.

Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen, as dosage may need adjustment over time based on individual needs.

The Risks of Antacid Overuse

Long-term antacid use can have adverse effects on digestion and gut health. These common over-the-counter remedies may offer temporary relief but are not without risks.

Impact on Protein Breakdown

Taking antacids reduces the level of stomach acid. But did you know that our bodies need this acid to break down proteins? With less stomach acid, protein breakdown suffers, according to research studies.

Increased Gas and SIBO Development

A side effect of reduced protein breakdown is increased gas production. This isn't just uncomfortable; it could lead to Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

Similarly, harmful bacteria have more chances to grow when undigested proteins linger in your intestines. SIBO symptoms range from bloating, gas diarrhea, or constipation.

The Link Between Magnesium and Low Stomach Acid

The link between magnesium and low stomach acid is essential for those experiencing magnesium deficiency symptoms. Low stomach acid, hypochlorhydria, can impair the body's ability to absorb magnesium effectively.

Stomach acid plays a crucial role in breaking down magnesium in food and making it available for absorption in the intestines. Magnesium absorption can be compromised when stomach acid levels are low, as is common in older adults or individuals with certain medical conditions.

This impaired absorption can contribute to magnesium deficiency, leading to symptoms like muscle cramps, fatigue, and irregular heart rhythms.

Addressing low stomach acid through dietary changes, lifestyle adjustments, or, in some cases, under medical supervision, can be essential for improving magnesium absorption and overall health.


Low stomach acid, or hypochlorhydria, can have profound effects on digestive health and overall well-being. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of low stomach acid is crucial for early intervention and prevention of complications.

Natural remedies like apple cider vinegar and betaine hydrochloride supplements can help increase stomach acid levels and improve digestion.

However, it's essential to consult healthcare providers before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if using antacids regularly.

Understanding the link between magnesium and low stomach acid is also critical for addressing symptoms of magnesium deficiency. By taking proactive steps to support stomach acid production and absorption, you can optimize their digestive health and enhance your overall quality of life.

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