Volume 5, Issue 51 | December 20, 2012
Is your stomach producing enough acid?
Last week, I showed you how aging can affect your digestion. The biggest digestion problem for most people over the age of 65 is hypochlorhydria. This is a lack of stomach acid. I also showed you how hypochlorhydria can lead to many health problems, including an overgrowth of bad bacteria in your gut. Fortunately, there's an easy way to find out if you have the problem. And there are easy ways to fix it if you do have this condition.

The best way to find out if you have hypochlorhydria is to have a test done by a gastroenterologist. When you visit the doctor, he'll have you take a Heidelberg capsule test. In this test, you swallow a small capsule that is actually a radio transmitter. The capsule is sensitive to acid. So it can transmit back to a receiver how much stomach acid you're producing. This test is easy and safe to do. The capsule is just passed in a bowel movement. If you're not producing enough stomach acid, this test will tell you with a high degree of accuracy.

But there are two less scientific things you can do at home that can indicate if you have hypochlorhydria.

The first one involves baking soda. Mix 1/2 tsp. baking soda in 8 ounces of water. Drink the mixture first thing in the morning. The baking soda and the acid in your stomach will react to produce carbon dioxide, which is a gas and will cause you to belch or at the very least feel like belching. If that doesn't happen within 5-10 minutes after drinking the mixture, it may be because you have hypochlorhydria. People with normal stomach acid levels usually belch within two to three minutes.

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Another at-home test involves betaine hydrochloride capsules. You can get these at the health food store. Start by taking one capsule with a meal. If you feel a burning or warm feeling in your stomach or if it causes heartburn, the odds are that your stomach is probably producing enough acid. If it doesn't produce a reaction like this, it means your stomach needed the extra acid.

If either of these at-home tests indicates that you might have hypochlorhydria, it's time to see your alternative practitioner for help on what to do. There are several nutritional, herbal, and hormonal remedies you can use. One herbal remedy that might be helpful is Integrative Digestive Formula.

There are several other important issues about aging and gastrointestinal health that you need to know about. And I will be writing more in the near future. So stay tuned. Remember that if your gastrointestinal tract is not working right, you are set up to have problems.

Finding your Real Cures,

Frank Shallenberger, MD

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