My Acid Reflux Story
Back in 2013, my health was a mess – before, during, and after my first pregnancy.
During pregnancy, I experienced all of the usual symptoms like nausea, heartburn, and fatigue – but I also encountered some unexpected problems, like the inability to eat more than a few bites at meals.
You sure wouldn’t have guessed that by my 65-pound weight gain.
Part of the reason I could hardly manage more than a few bites per meal was the severe acid reflux I dealt with after eating pretty much anything. At the time, I was thankful that Tums topped the list of pregnancy-approved medications … because I downed those suckers like it was my full-time job!
Knowing what I know now about stomach acid production and a healthy digestive system – downing acid blockers like Tums was the worst thing I could do for my health.
The good news is once I set out on a weight loss journey post-pregnancy, I learned far more than I ever imagined about the digestive process and low stomach acid. I also learned that the root cause of health issues, like heartburn and acid reflux, is only worsened by the very medications promoted by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
(This is the part where I insert that I’m not a doctor, I never plan on becoming a doctor, and this blog is for informational purposes only. I should also probably note that this blog is supported by affiliate links, where I may receive a small commission).
The Big Lie We’re All Told
While I wish I could say dealing with raging levels of stomach acidity was a new thing, the truth is – I’d been experiencing the effects of too much stomach acid for decades. Or so I thought.
At age 10, I’d wake up in the middle of the night to chug a glass of milk to stop the burning in my chest. By my 20s, my OTC use of medications like Pepto and Tums was almost a daily occurrence. By age 30, I was prescribed 3 different medications designed by drug companies to tame my stomach acid levels.
But once I hit my mid-30s, that’s when I learned that everything I was told about my so-called medical condition was nothing but a big fat lie. I came across a weight loss book that went far beyond how to lose weight. This book taught me how to improve health conditions I suffered from for decades, but thought I was just stuck with.
One of the first health puzzles the book helped me solve was the heartburn and acid reflux I suffered from for decades. I finally learned the truth that the underlying problem of my continuous heartburn woes had nothing to do with too much acid in my digestive tract. Instead, these issues were due to too little stomach acid all along.
The shock! The horror! The outrage!!
Because my entire life I was told to take acid blockers and PPIs (Proton-Pump Inhibitors) to settle my stomach woes. And it wasn’t until my mid-30s that I finally learned that the long-term use of these products, along with the low-acid environment they create, leads to far more health conditions than they could ever solve!
The Problem with Most Acid Reflux Advice
Most mainstream sources lead you to believe the best way to relieve chronic acid reflux is to lower the amount of gastric acid in your digestive tract. They let you know that you can easily do this with over-the-counter medications, like Rolaids or Tums.
Alternatively, most doctors are eager to provide prescription medications for more severe cases of acid reflux. While these medications are helpful short-term, the more often you use these quick-fix solutions, the greater risk you put yourself for future health problems.
Vitamin deficiencies, a lowered immune system, hiatal hernia, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), low energy levels, bad breath, and even weight gain can all be brought on by low hydrochloric acid production. And that’s the major problem these acid blockers create – they lower the amount of stomach acid your body secretes over time.
And that’s because long-term acid-blocking medications do exactly as they advertise – they block gastric acid secretion.
Even though common recommendations lead you to believe that’s a good thing – proton pump inhibitors, along with other medications that purposely create a low acidic environment, don’t leave your stomach with enough acid to close the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). But here’s the thing – closing the LES is super important not only for optimal digestion, but also to get rid of that burning sensation you feel anytime you eat.
I Came for the Weight Loss, But Cured My Heartburn Too!
Ok, ok – so cured may be too strong of a word. And quite honestly, I don’t think it’s a word I’m supposed to use. So instead I’ll just say that I improved my chronic acid reflux to a point where I no longer experience heartburn … like ever.
Forever, forever ever? Forever, ever?
I’m also not sure I’m supposed to quote one of the best OutKast songs of all time. Hopefully Big Boi doesn’t stumble across this blog while trying to improve a major case of heartburn. But in the event he does, forever never seems that long until you’re grown, and your chest burns every time you even think about that juicy burger you can’t have, because you know – heartburn.
But the truth is, getting rid of heartburn for good isn’t that difficult. Sure, I was skeptical at first too – but here I am, more than a decade later, and I have zero signs of acid reflux; no acid-blocking medications required!
So now you’re probably wondering – how the heck did you do it? I’m so happy you asked.
Betaine HCL to the Rescue!
The secret hero of my acid reflux saga is a dietary supplement called Betaine HCL, also known as hydrochloric acid (aka stomach acid). If using acid as a supplement sounds scary – I can assure you that stomach acid is completely natural, and exactly what you need for optimal digestion.
Hydrochloric acid is part of the gastric juice your body uses to break down protein-containing foods into smaller pieces. HCL breaks down what you eat so that digestive enzymes can split up the proteins, and use them for necessary functions.
While not everyone needs to supplement with Betaine HCL, for those of us who’ve spent too many years eating too many highly processed foods, while depriving ourselves of real foods in the name of weight loss … and then used acid-blocking drugs to cover up the effects of it all – temporary use of HCL IS A MUST!
So that’s the end? Use HCL and poof – heartburn is gone?
That’s far from the end – because unless you want to end up with even more heartburn than you started with, raging diarrhea, or worse – peptic ulcers from using Betaine HCL supplements the wrong way, then you need to keep reading!
How to Use Betaine HCL – THE RIGHT WAY!
First, what is Betaine HCL?
As previously mentioned, Betaine HCL is a supplemental form of your naturally occurring stomach acid.
Since many adults naturally produce less stomach acid over time due to things like diet, over-the-counter and prescription medications, as well as the aging process, sometimes a supplemental form of stomach acid is required.
Supplementing with Betaine HCL can help ramp up your body’s production of hydrochloric acid.
Is Betaine HCL Safe?
While Betaine HCL is considered safe for most people, you have to use it the right way to avoid possible side effects. Some side effects include more heartburn, diarrhea, or even an ulcer. Whenever you add HCL to your supplement routine, it’s also advised that you add a second supplement called Beet Flow.
The reason for this is hydrochloric acid (HCL) helps with one side of digestion. This is the part where your body breaks food down into usable nutrients, like amino acids. And while this is necessary for proper digestion, things can backfire if you don’t also have the other side of digestion working correctly.
That’s where Beet Flow comes in.
Beet Flow is a natural supplement that’s made up mostly of beet greens. It helps thin bile to make sure your body breaks down fats into fatty acids to be taken through the digestive tract.
If bile isn’t flowing properly, but you supplement with HCL anyway – that’s when the acid could move through your digestive tract too quickly, resulting in an urgent trip to the restroom.
And if for some reason you don’t care if you’re sliding into first and you feel a sudden burst (which, eww – gross) – but let’s pretend that you don’t care if a few extra trips to the toilet are necessary. Well, you should care since supplementing with Betaine HCL long term without proper bile flow can result in more serious problems, like an ulcer.
How Much Betaine HCL to Take?
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer since the amount of Betaine HCL you take depends entirely on how much natural stomach acid your body already produces.
Most people who realize they should supplement with HCL will need to work up to the full recommended dose over a few days. Since I only use (and recommend) the Empirical Labs Beatine HCL supplement, the general dosage provided will have to be adjusted if you choose another brand. (Again, not recommended since another form of Betaine HCL is more likely to contain Pepsin, which can create further stomach issues).
While yes, I do receive a small commission whenever you use my affiliate link, even if I didn’t, I still wouldn’t recommend random products found in health stores or online if you’re not 100% sure of the quality of those supplements.
Do the products add useless binders and fillers, making the supplements worthless? Probably.
Could the mystery ingredients used create more problems than they solve? I don’t know, and neither do you!
With that said, when supplementing with Betaine HCL from Empirical Labs, it’s recommended that you start with 1 capsule. Then you can slowly work your way up to 5 capsules, taken in the middle of each protein-containing meal.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You must eat at least one bite of food after swallowing the HCL capsules to make sure they are swallowed completely.
How to Take Betaine HCL:
As previously mentioned, start with 1 capsule, taken in the middle of a meal. To limit side effects, it’s best to take HCL with a meal with very few carbs. Also, you only need HCL with meals that contain protein. (Only protein you can chew, as you shouldn’t take HCL with proteins that are already broken down, like protein shakes).
If you don’t experience adverse side effects when you take 1 capsule of HCL mid-meal, then you can move the dosage up to 2 capsules during your next protein-containing meal. Continue this process until you reach 5 total capsules, taken in the middle of each protein-containing meal.
And since the goal is to not have to take Betaine HCL forever, keep an eye out for the signs of when it’s time to stop HCL. Some of these signs include:
- You no longer have heartburn
- You’re no longer constipated (if that was an issue)
- You feel a burning in your chest after supplementing with Betaine HCL
Since this is not an extensive list, I recommend taking the free Digestion Course to be sure you’re taking the digestive supplements the right way. It’s completely free, and you’ll learn way more than you ever thought you’d know about digestion! Plus, you’ll learn simple tests that can help you improve many other ailments you didn’t even know you could improve.
How Long Does it Take for Betaine HCL to Work?
When taking a natural remedy, like Betaine HCL, you have to keep in mind that natural supplements don’t work as quickly as medications. With that said, most people will find relief quickly when Betaine HCL is taken the right way.
If you struggle with heartburn after working your dose up to 5 capsules per meal, this could delay the time it takes for HCL to work properly.
In this instance, you’ll likely need to complete a round of D-Limonene. This is an orange peel extract that helps kill off any bacteria created from a lack of stomach acid. Once the bacteria is wiped out, using HCL is much more pleasant and effective.
Since this process is a little more complicated, it’s advised that you work with a health coach to get the timing down correctly.
Are There Any Alternatives to Betaine HCL?
Some people may only need a little help ramping up stomach acid production. These people may be able to get away with adding a small acid boost to their meals with natural remedies, like apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. However, for the majority of people who suffer from acid reflux and heartburn, these natural remedies won’t be strong enough to have any real, lasting effect.
As someone who suffered from heartburn for decades, the most helpful supplements I’ve come across are the supplements sold on Natural Reference. That’s because they only sell high-quality supplements that help improve the root cause of your problem, instead of temporarily covering up the symptoms.
What If I Still Need More Help with Betaine HCL?
I put together basic supplement instructions for both Betaine HCL and Beet Flow on my website. Please feel free to save a copy of these instructions for future use.
If you have a simple question about supplement usage, please reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m more than happy to help, especially if you’re kind enough to use my Practitioner Code at checkout on Natural Reference, which is: nissahelpsme.
Feel free to set up a call here to see if we’re a good fit to work together to help improve your digestive woes.Let's Connect!