We usually think that stomach troubles stem from something we ate. But, actually it might be a sign that you have low stomach acid (a condition called hypochlorhydria). The good news is, there are two simple and natural ways to get your stomach acid levels back to normal!
“Stomach acid is needed to break down foods and absorb energizing nutrients,” says Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, author of Pain Erasers (Buy from Amazon, $11.82). But 75 percent of women over 40 have low stomach acid. This triggers heartburn, bloat, and pain, plus energy-depleting shortfalls of nutrients like B-12 and zinc.
Stomach acid production wanes with age, but chronic stress can cause levels to dip lower. But Jonathan Wright, MD, author of Why Stomach Acid Is Good for You (Buy from Amazon, $15.95), says most doctors blame GI symptoms of low stomach acid on excess acid and offer remedies that worsen symptoms.
Doctors can diagnose a problem with a Heidelberg test, which involves swallowing a pill-sized device to track acid levels. But insurance often doesn’t cover it. The good news: It’s easy to lift acid levels naturally:
Supplements can detect and correct a shortfall, says Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD. She advises taking 500 to 650 milligrams of HCl and pepsin (Try: Twinlab Betaine HCl with pepsin, Buy from Walmart.com, $24.99). If your acid level is normal, you’ll feel a warming sensation like heartburn. If you don’t, your levels are low: Take two pills at your next meal. Add a pill at each meal until you feel the warming, then drop to the previous dose at your next meal. After four months, cut back by one pill a day until you no longer need it. But check with your doctor before starting: Betaine HCl isn’t advised if you have ulcers or take certain meds.
Eating foods high in B-12 and zinc can help since they aid in stomach acid production. Good choices: eggs, meat, fish, and cheese. Also smart: chewing food thoroughly to kick-start acid production.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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