Apple cider vinegar is one of the easiest methods to improve digestion and increase stomach acid. Ideally, the pH of the stomach should be between one and three– a highly acidic environment (a pH of seven is neutral on the zero-to-fourteen pH scale). This pH provides the optimum environment for digestion, but many people do not produce enough acid to generate a pH that low.
Causes of low stomach acid include chronic consumption of high-fat, low-nutrition foods, sugar, and overeating. Low thyroid and adrenal function, high stress levels, autoimmune diseases, aging, and Helicobacter pylori infections also play a role. Conditions associated with low stomach acid include gallstones, low pancreatic enzymes, poor digestion and malnutrition in spite of a good diet, fat maldigestion, diabetes, childhood asthma, hypo- or hyperthyroid, eczema, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, rosacea, food allergies, imbalance of healthy bacteria in the intestines, stomach ulcers, and intestinal infections. There is also a link between low stomach acid and the development of stomach cancer. Several markers on standard lab tests can also indicate low stomach acid, including low total protein and triglycerides, and high chloride and carbon dioxide.
Look for apple cider vinegar that is raw and unfiltered so it still contains enzymes, which look like thin strands at the bottom of the bottle. Take 1 to 2 teaspoons of vinegar before each meal. You can drink it straight (if you really like it sour!), dilute it in up to eight ounces of water, or add a little honey for sweetness. Drink 15 to 30 minutes before meals, but if you forget, you can take it immediately before or during your meal.
© Sima Ash, 2010