Your Stomach Acid is a Good Thing. Really.

Diane Sanfilippo Digestion 7 Comments

It's a common belief these days that the feeling of heartburn or acid-reflux is caused by excess stomach acid. While this may be true for a small number of people, get this: the majority of us who get that burning sensation in our belly are suffering from LOW stomach acid. Yes, really. Your stomach is an ACID environment. Yes, acid. It needs to be acidic to begin breaking down the proteins and fats that you eat. While the saliva in your mouth can begin to break down carbohydrates, your stomach needs to get to work at the proteins and fats. For it to do this, you need sufficient hydrochloric acid (also known as gastric acid).  

The cat is officially out of the bag now. All these years we've been taking antacids, choking them down one after the other to soothe this awful, burning feeling. And all these years we've been continuing to experience the reflux without ever figuring out how to help fix it before it starts!

But it doesn't stop there. There are many other common symptoms of LOW stomach acid (gastric acidity). They include:

  • burning feeling in gut after meals (heartburn!)
  • frequent belching after meals
  • bloating / feeling of over-fullness after meals
  • indigestion
  • stomach upsets easily
  • gas, flatulence after meals
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • chronic intestinal infections: bacterial, yeasts, parasites
  • chronic candida infection (candidiasis)
  • undigested food in stools
  • known food sensitivities

If you just read that list and thought, “Whoa! That's me!” keep reading…

You can do an at-home test to discover whether or not you have low gastric acidity. Here's how!

The Beet Juice Gastric Acid Test:
(source: Ed Bauman, 2009)

  1. Drink 4oz of beet juice once daily for 3 consecutive days. Find a local shop that makes juice fresh on-location or an organic grocery store (it doesn't have to be fresh). If you can't access beet juice, you can use raw or even cooked beets for this test. You'll probably need to eat one large beet to yield equivalent of the red pigment (betalain) in the beet juice.  You may dilute the juice slightly with water if you wish. It will be very sweet.


  • Check the color of your urine daily and record if your urine is red, pink or yellow.

  • Check the list below for symptoms you may have experienced in the last 30 days.


If the red color from the beets is passed into your urine, it may indicate a low level of hydrochloric acid. With the right amount of gastric acid, the betalain in the beets would be broken down and not appear in your urine.

In the past, I found myself suffering from some of the above symptoms and have now been able to manage them with natural solutions! No more antacids for me!

Comments 7

  1. I didn't know about this test with beet juice. Very interesting, thanks for sharing it!

    Have you read Jonathan Wright's book about stomach acid? It's very informative and I believe he just published a new one.

  2. That's good to know. I eat beets a lot and always see red pee. I already knew I had low HCL, but this is a confirmation. Thanks for including my blog on your link list! 🙂 I am doing the 4R program now so will be adding in HCL in the next stage. Hopefully that will help but I'm curious about ways to improve it without supplements.

  3. So just the other day this came up during conversation (we were eating beet salad) and a few of the people have experienced red urine, though I have not. I have experienced red bowel movements instead… What does that say?

    I’ve done a stomach acid test of 1/4 tsp baking soda w/ 8 oz water 1st thing in the morning, where you time to your 1st belch. And I don’t belch at all. So apparently I have low stomach acid.

    1. I’m exactly the same! I ate a lot of beet the other day and my urine never turned pink or red. But out of the 10 times I did the baking soda test about 6 times I only belched after 10 mins, 2 times I belched after about 2 mins, and 2 times it took toooo long I stopped noticing. I wonder what that means.

  4. I just finish the 21 days detox today!! It was not easy and at the end I was sick and tired of the cooking…..everything I cooked was good. Still have some cravings( not real bad). I did follow the the detox… I don’t know why the cravings. Also I have gas. I will continue eating paleo.

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