Contrary to popular belief, heartburn is not caused by too much stomach acid but in fact too little.
Heartburn is that burning sensation in your chest that sometimes happens after eating. It occurs when stomach acid rises up into the esophagus and sometimes as far up as the throat.
The incidence of heartburn or acid reflux tends to increase with age, while stomach acid levels tend to decrease with age.
A simple way to test if your body is not producing enough stomach acid to support proper digestion is by taking the apple cider vinegar test.
Apple cider vinegar mimics the acidic environment of the stomach and supports the chemical break down of food. Therefore, in theory, when you supplement your meal with apple cider vinegar it will boost your stomach acid level and diminish the symptoms of heartburn.
How to Test for Low Stomach Acid
On an empty stomach, take a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in a small amount of water.
- If you feel an immediate strong burning sensation, your stomach acid is high. To help reverse the burning sensation, mix some baking soda into a glass of water and drink it. The alkalinity of the baking soda will help neutralize the acid.
- If you feel a mild warming sensation, your stomach acid is good.
- If you don’t feel any warming sensation, you may have a low level of stomach acid. You can increase the amount of apple cider vinegar in increments of 1 teaspoon until you begin to feel a mild warming sensation. Some individuals supplement with as much as 1 or 2 tablespoons for better digestion.
Ultimately, the more vinegar you need to take to feel a mild warming sensation, the lower your stomach acid level.
Choose High Quality Apple Cider Vinegar
Some key features to look for when buying apple cider vinegar is that it’s packaged in a glass bottle, it’s organic, and it’s not heated, pasteurized, or filtered. The healthier apple cider vinegars contain what looks like a sediment on the bottom of the bottle, or floaty bits when you shake it. The sediment is called “the mother”, which is a naturally occurring beneficial bacteria that allows the vinegar to ferment.
Avoid taking the apple cider vinegar test if you have stomach ulcers as it may aggravate them.
Also, apple cider vinegar is acidic and can erode the enamel of the teeth over time. It’s best to dilute apple cider vinegar in a small amount of water rather than drinking it straight. Drinking apple cider vinegar through glass straw can also help minimize tooth enamel erosion.