How is your stomach acid? Do you even know? Today I wanted to bring attention to the importance of stomach acid and the role of Betaine HCL in increasing it. Stomach acid really is good for you. Without it, your health suffers. Our digestion suffers and we are not able to absorb the nutrients from our food which results in further health issues. In fact, gut issues are one of the root causes as to why we got sick in the first place. Betaine HCL increases the level of hydrochloric acid in the stomach necessary for proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients from food. Normal levels of hydrochloric acid are required for complete digestion of proteins and absorption of amino acids. Itâs also required for the extraction of vitamin B12 from our food. Betaine HCL helps to restore the proper acid levels in the stomach and maintain healthy GI function.
So how do you know if you’re suffering from low stomach acid? Here are some signs that you might be:
Undigested food in your stool
I wanted to mention a few things about acid reflux. Often we are prescribed proton pump inhibitors for this (pepcid, zantac, etc.) This can cause a few problems. If your acid reflux is as a result of insufficient stomach acid, the proton pump inhibitors will further decrease your already low stomach acid, further exacerbating the problem. Proton pump inhibitors have also been shown to deplete B12 and magnesium, two things we, as Fibro peeps, are typically deficient in already.
So how can we increase our stomach acid? One option is apple cider vinegar in the middle of a meal. The other option is supplementing with betaine HCL with pepsin (make sure it has the pepsin). A stomach that doesn’t produce enough HCL also won’t make enough pepsin. Without pepsin, we can’t break down proteins into the peptides required for proper absorption.
Please note: those taking anti-inflammatory medication such as corticosteroids, NSAIDS etc. should not take Betaine HCL with pepsin unless they are working with a qualified practitioner. These drugs can initiate damage to the GI lining that HCL might aggravate, increasing the risk of ulcer. A safer bet, if on these medications, unless working with a qualified practitioner, is digestive bitters.
Here are a few tips on getting starting with Betaine HCL with pepsin. If you are concerned or have questions, please reach out to me or contact your physician.
How to figure out your Betaine HCL Dose:
Each person will have a specific supplementary HCL dosage. Unfortunately, there isnât a special formula. Itâs a case of trial and error until you get to the correct dosage. You must find the correct dosage. Failing to do so will be a waste of time and money.
To figure out the right dosage:
â¢ Eat a meal that contains at least 15-20 grams of protein.
â¢ Start by taking 1 pill of Betaine HCL during the beginning of the meal.
â¢ Finish the meal as normal and observe your body for any changes in feeling associated with the stomach and belly button area. Things to look for: heaviness, hotness, burning, or other GI distress.
â¢ Stay at this dosage of 1 pill for another day of meals with protein and if you donât notice anything on the 3rd day, try 2 pills.
â¢ Stay there for another day and then try 3 pills.
â¢ Keep increasing the number of pills taken with each meal until you notice some GI discomfort described above.
â¢ When this happens, you will know your ideal Betaine HCL dosage is 1 pill less.
Things to note:
If you eat a snack or meal without much protein, you wonât need as much Betaine HCL. For a small snack such as fruit, you wonât need any at all.
When you experience the GI discomfort finding your correct dosage, you can mix Â½ tsp of baking soda in 8 oz of water and drink it to help lessen the pain.
A normal functioning stomach is capable of producing and handling extreme acid ranges. If your dosage starts getting extremely high without any GI distress, you must use your GI symptoms as a guide instead. These include burping, bloating, gas and stool consistency. In this case, try to find the minimum dose needed to help your GI symptoms.
As you start to heal your gut, your bodies ability to produce its own stomach acid will improve. You may need to tweak your Betaine HCL dose from time to time to compensate for this. This is a good thing!!
I’d love to hear about your experiences with Betaine HCL. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions or comments. I also work with many clients on issues such as low stomach acid. I’m here to help!