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Thread: diagnosing stomach acid issue

  1. #1
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    Default diagnosing stomach acid issue

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    Hello all,

    I have been having what seems to be GERD issues for awhile. Doctors say it's excess stomach acid. Well, this week I did a home test I found on the interwebs: drink half a glass of water with half a teaspoon of baking soda, first thing in the morning, and time how long it takes to burp. 1-2 minutes indicates excess stomach acid, greater than 5 minutes indicates low stomach acid. It took me about 10 minutes to burp at all and even then only small burps. I did the test three days in a row, same result.

    Is there any validity to this? I have read that, in the typically counter-intuitive way that biology can work, low stomach acid can cause symptoms that look like excess stomach acid.

    Anyone know?

    Thanks.

    Tom

  2. #2
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    I'm unaware of this test or if it has been validated. You'd have to get an EGD if you really want to find out. How often are you having symptoms and have you pulled out spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine to see if you have relief?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by tompaynter View Post
    Hello all,

    I have been having what seems to be GERD issues for awhile. Doctors say it's excess stomach acid. Well, this week I did a home test I found on the interwebs: drink half a glass of water with half a teaspoon of baking soda, first thing in the morning, and time how long it takes to burp. 1-2 minutes indicates excess stomach acid, greater than 5 minutes indicates low stomach acid. It took me about 10 minutes to burp at all and even then only small burps. I did the test three days in a row, same result.

    Is there any validity to this? I have read that, in the typically counter-intuitive way that biology can work, low stomach acid can cause symptoms that look like excess stomach acid.

    Anyone know?

    Thanks.

    Tom
    I had bad gerd for most of my life until I started drinking kefir regularly. It has to be good kefir, I used to make my own using grains from kombucha kamp, but its a little bit of a hassle so I now use the goat milk kefir from Trader Joes that seems to be working well.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Santana View Post
    I'm unaware of this test or if it has been validated. You'd have to get an EGD if you really want to find out. How often are you having symptoms and have you pulled out spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine to see if you have relief?
    I had the EGD. It found "mild chronic gastritis" and "squamocolumnar junction mucosa with moderate inflammation and reactive changes suggestive of reflux". My main symptoms are a bloated feeling during and after eating and difficulty burping, and an acid taste in my throat and sometimes a feeling of burping acid into my throat. The initial reason I sought medical help was I would start feeling full halfway through a meal, it would take me forever to finish eating, and I would feel so full and bloated for so long afterwards. That's gotten better with use of omeprezole, but apparently one is not supposed to stay on a large dose of that for a long time. (I didn't take omeprezole during the period when I did the baking soda test.)

    I want to learn about this and address it through diet if necessary, as you suggest. But first I want to make sure I know what the problem is. Obviously, stomach acid is escaping into my throat/refluxing. But is the necessarily because I am producing too much acid? Sometimes biological systems have weird feedback loops and are counterintuitive. For instance, some people recommend drinking a solution of apple cider vinegar for heartburn, because the additional acid signals the body it can stop producing acid. (I have had success with this remedy myself.)

    I think doctors might be too quick to recommend across-the-board solutions like "don't eat anything fun" (spicy foods, fatty foods, chocolate, caffeine); after all, it covers their ass and doesn't cost them anything. I am not sure the link between things like these and GERD is that well-established (at least the research as to coffee/caffeine seems to be inconclusive).

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    Quote Originally Posted by tompaynter View Post
    I am not sure the link between things like these and GERD is that well-established (at least the research as to coffee/caffeine seems to be inconclusive).
    Have you tested this theory on yourself? Is there a link in your own situation. The situation that matters in this case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Santana View Post
    Have you tested this theory on yourself? Is there a link in your own situation. The situation that matters in this case.
    Not a trivial process. Getting some kind of reliable idea of whether the condition has gotten better or worse after a dietary change would be hard, given natural variation/randomness, subjectivity, and the fuzziness of the symptoms themselves. Giving up coffee in particular would be big sacrifice. And I am reluctant to make changes designed to reduce stomach acid when I don't even know if I have too much or too little. That's why I ran the baking-soda test: figure out what the condition is, then research dietary changes and try them.

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    So you have not attempted to give up any of those food groups, are discrediting the recommendation without any implementation, and instead are experimenting with an internet anecdote?

  8. #8
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    GERD can be caused by low stomach acid. Because food doesn't digest as quickly it builds up gas and pressure in the stomach leading to reflux. Coffee aggravates it because it causes the esophageal sphincter to relax.

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    He's not interested in hearing that foods he likes don't agree with him.

  10. #10
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    Fair enough, Robert.
    For anyone else reading, Stan Efferding has an interesting YouTube video about low stomach acid as it relates to age, nutrient uptake, and GERD. It may be worth checking out. Also there is some literature out there regarding betaine/HCl/pepsin supplementation as a treatment for GERD (which Stan also talks about). The side benefit, of course, is better protein digestion, which is kind of a big deal for older people who train.

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