What is Betaine HCL?
Betaine hydrochloride contains approximately 23% hydrochloric acid, commonly known as stomach acid. It is naturally sourced from beets. Stomach acid initiates the digestive process by beginning the breakdown of food, especially protein. It is also an important protective mechanism against infection by killing any microbes that are contained in our food or water.
Most importantly Betaine HCL helps to increase stomach acid and assist digestion. This is especially important for older persons, particularly those over 60, who may not produce enough stomach acid to properly digest food and nutrients. HCL makes the stomach produce more acid and also stimulates the secretion of pancreatic enzymes, further aiding digestion.
Low Stomach Acid (Underactive Stomach)
Low stomach acid impairs one's ability to digest food by limiting the release and functioning of other digestive enzymes. Although it may seem contradictory, low stomach acid can also lead to gastric reflux (heartburn). Closure of the valve at the top of the stomach is stimulated by the hydrochloric acid that is released in response to food intake. In an individual with low stomach acid the valve does not close and allowing the remaining acid to push up into the esophagus and cause a burning sensation.Betaine hydrochloride is recommended for indigestion, low stomach acid and gastric reflux.
Common Signs of Low Stomach Acid may include:
- bloating & flatulence after a meal
- Indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation
- stomach pain and discomfort in the upper abdomen after a meal
- nausea and vomiting
- bad breath
- undigested food in the stool
- food allergies
Chronic indigestion may be related to lack of bile, stomach acid and enzymes, or food sensitivities. It occurs more commonly as we age because our production of digestive enzymes and stomach acid decreases. Indigestion symptoms include, a burning sensation in the stomach or chest, a heavy sensation, belching, flatulence, bloating, nausea and decreased appetite.
Conventional treatment of indigestion involves symptomatic treatment, usually with antacids. Prolonged use of antacids can cause mineral imbalances because they contain large amounts of sodium, aluminum, calcium and magnesium. Excess sodium can worsen hypertension and aluminum has been connected to Alzheimer's disease. Antacids also change the pH of the stomach so that food is improperly broken down, actually leading to worse indigestion. Drugs to suppress acid production are also prescribed. Long-term use of these medicines can damage the stomach lining, leading to tumour formation. Other side effects include impotence or breast enlargement.
It is important when you experience chronic digestive symptoms like heart burn that you support the health of your stomach, intestinal, and esophogeal lining. The flare up, absence, or reflux of acid can damage the lining of the gut, creating further digestive challenges, in particular leaky gut in which undigested food particles leak out from the intestines and then into the blood stream.
To prevent indigestion eat small meals, chew well and eat slowly so that you do not swallow excess air. Relax and enjoy the smell and taste of food. This will stimulate the release of digestive juices. Do not drink liquids while eating because it dilutes digestive juices. Avoid foods that are extremely hot or cold. Avoid things that increase stomach acidity like alcohol, coffee, tea, colas, tobacco, aspirin, ibuprofen and spicy foods. If you have low stomach acid take lemon juice or take apple cider vinegar with your meals. Avoid any foods that you are sensitive to. An elimination or rotation diet may be necessary to uncover specific food allergens. Combinations of certain foods can also be difficult to digest. Use food-combining guidelines to make digestion easier.
You Can Support Digestive Health By:
- Chewing food completely.
- Eating several small meals daily instead of three large meals.
- Avoiding fluids with meals.
- Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Avoiding refined, processed foods.
- Not overeating; eat until 80% full.
- Taking a HCL supplement before meals.
- Supplementing with Probiotics.
- Taking digestive enzyme during or after meals.