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HCL for Indigestion

4 Tips For Using Betaine Hydrochloric Acid (HCL)

If you suffer from low stomach acid, you could likely benefit from taking betaine hydrochloric acid (HCL).  Without adequate stomach acid, food does not get properly digested, and can cause symptoms such as indigestion, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, malabsorption of nutrients, and nutrient deficiencies.  HCL is a supplement that increases the acidity in the stomach, aiding in the digestive process.  There is a specific way to take HCL, however, and by sticking to these tips, you can avoid the painful side effects of this supplement, such as heartburn, stomachache, and abdominal bloating. 

Take HCL With Pepsin

It is essential to find a brand of HCL that contains pepsin.  Pepsin is one of three protein-digesting enzymes that gets released in the stomach during digestion, and is essential for severing the chemical chains that exist between different forms of amino acids in protein containing foods.  Because pepsin is a natural byproduct of stomach acid, it is common occurrence for those with low stomach acid to also be deficient in pepsin.  Surprisingly, there are numerous HCL products on the market that do not contain pepsin.  Before buying an HCL product, be sure to check the label to be sure that there is adequate pepsin included in the formula.

Only Take HCL When Necessary

A mistake that many people make when taking HCL is to take it when it is not actually necessary.  HCL is highly acidic, and just like having excessive stomach acid, too much HCL in your stomach can cause heartburn, indigestion, stomach pain, and bloating.  Different types of foods require different types of digestive enzymes.  Most grains and vegetables, for instance, require a more alkaline environment in the stomach for proper digestion.  Most proteins, on the other hand, require an acidic environment.  This is where HCL comes into play.  It is important only to take HCL when eating meals with over 15 grams of protein.  If HCL is taken when protein is not part of the meal, the chances of uncomfortable side effects are much higher.

Take the Proper Dosage

A mistake that many people make when taking HCL is getting the wrong dosage.  Most people overdo it, thinking that more acid is better.  But the stomach lining is delicate and sensitive, and bombarding it with too much acid can cause painful side effects such as stomach ache and nausea.  The dosage of HCL will vary depending on the contents of each meal, as well as the quantity of food you are ingesting.  The more protein you eat, the more HCL that you will likely require in order to properly digest the protein.  Many people simply take the recommended dosage on the bottle, without taking into consideration the quantity and type of foods they are eating.  This can cause a person to have painful side effects, preventing them from using this supplement in the future.  If you have a particularly sensitive stomach, it is best to take HCL under the supervision of a trained nutritionist or medical professional.

Beware of Drug Interactions

HCL should not be taken by anyone who is also taking an anti-inflammatory medication.  Some common anti-inflammatory medications are aspirin, motrin, advil, ibuprofen, prednisone, or other NSAIDs.  The reason for this is that taking both HCL with an anti-inflammatory medication increases the chances of weakening the stomach lining, which can lead to ulcers, as well as bleeding in the stomach and gastrointestinal lining.  If you are uncertain as to whether a medication you are taking may fit into this category, be sure to speak with your doctor or a trained medical professional before taking HCL.  If an anti-inflammatory medication cannot be discontented for health reasons, consider taking digestive bitters instead, which provide similar relief as HCL, but without the drug interaction precautions.

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