By Catherine Clark, owner and founder of The Harvest Table
Here’s a simple test you can do at home to determine your stomach acid levels.
High levels of stomach acid or acid reflux, known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), is possibly one of the most misunderstood ailments of modern-day medicine. GERD occurs when stomach acid, created by the body to aid digestion, frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (oesophagus), which then irritates the lining of the oesophagus and may cause a burning sensation in your chest (heartburn) or the regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux).
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) more than $10 billion is spent globally every year on antacids. In addition, according to the US National Library of Medicine, approximately 25% of adults in the Western world say they have struggled with GERD. Stomach acid is created by the body to assist with digestion – largely of the proteins that we consume. But do so many of us really have too much acid?
Many modern-day doctors don’t believe that this is the case
I am one of those people diagnosed with GERD or acid reflux. I was prescribed medication to reduce the production levels of stomach acid and ended up having to have an operation to fix my hiatus hernia. However, after doing some research, I began to wonder whether I really did in fact, have too much stomach acid. I felt a burning in my throat each night from what I thought was acid and even started losing my voice. I actually thought that over-production of stomach acid was damaging my vocal chords. But what I eventually discovered was actually quite the opposite. I found a simple test online that is designed to see how much acid you actually have, and for me, the results were quite surprising – it turned out that my body wasn’t producing nearly enough!
The stress of modern living and our rushed lifestyles has resulted in the dramatic decline of our bodies’ production of stomach acid. When we eat protein, our bodies can no longer digest it properly and the food begins to ferment.
In addition to this, our stomach valves are designed to only open to allow food out of our stomach when the right level of acidity is achieved. A lack of stomach acid, therefore, hinders the entire operation of your stomach. As the food that you have eaten ferments, it creates a burning sensation that often moves up your throat, especially as you sleep, creating an acid reflux effect.
This extremely easy, at-home test, though not scientific, is a great way to check your stomach acid levels. It is also safe and cost almost nothing.
The bicarb test
Before you go to bed at night leave 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda (bicarb) and a small glass of pure water (120ml) next to your bed.
- When you wake the next morning, immediately mix the bicarb in the water and drink it before doing anything else.
- Wait for a few minutes.
- Record how long it takes you to burp.
- Check your results:
- If you burp within 1 minute – your stomach acid level is good
- 1 to 2 minutes – not bad
- More than 2 minutes – on the low side
- More than 3 minutes – low
If you discover that your acid is low, you should possibly see a doctor or homeopath so that they can prescribe some lifestyle changes to improve your acid levels.