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Belly Fat or Belly Bloat?

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed my ever expanding waistline. I know that as we get older sometimes we put on weight in the midsection area, but this weight gain had me mystified.

Symptom Number 1

Fat Belly

I’ve been exercising on a regular basis, eating healthy meals and haven’t been losing much weight at all. I even started a rather strenuous 5-minute ab workout. I know, you’re asking, how can a 5-minute ab workout be strenuous? Unfortunately, the link to my 5-minute workout is no longer working, but take my word for it, it was tough.

Anywho, even with the workout, my belly seemed to get larger and larger.

Symptom Number 2

Atop of the growing belly girth, I found that I was unable to eat very much before feeling like I had a football in my stomach. We’d go out to eat, I’d eat a bit and then have to take the rest home (more than half), because I just couldn’t eat much. Shortly thereafter, like pressing the fast forward control for a movie, I’d watch my belly swell.

After a couple of months of this phenomenon, I went out and purchased a few flowing summer dresses to help hide my girth. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I’m exercising, eating healthy and blowing up like a blowfish.

Symptom Number 3

Constant hunger and weight gain. In the last 6 months, I’ve gained 6 pounds. This is not a good thing at all.

Research and the Solution

I did extensive research online and found several women with the same symptoms. Many of them went through a battery of tests and all were given varying diagnoses with varying solutions. Bottom line, they still suffered from the same problem. It seems the various doctors didn’t have a true solution.

I then stumbled upon a long forum thread  (35 pages and counting) on which I discovered my answer on page 14. The original poster who started the thread two years before finding the cause and answer to the problem came back and shared her solution. The problem was caused by low production of stomach acid (hypochlorhydria). She solved the problem by going to the health store and purchasing HCL & Pepsin aka Betaine HCL . It comes in pill form and costs about $11.

Testing for Low Stomach Acid

After reading her solution, I did more research on the ails of low and high stomach acid. I didn’t want to spend $11 and potentially make an Betaine HCLannoying problem worse so I spent several hours analyzing my symptoms and possible solutions.

From what I’ve read, the production of too much and too little stomach acid yield pretty much the same symptoms. A non-scientific test for determining which one you have is to take a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar during an episode of indigestion. If it alleviates the symptom, then the problem is low stomach acid.

Another test is to take a teaspoon of bicarbonate, mix it with water and drink it. If you begin to belch within 5 to 10 minutes then your problem is low stomach acid. Apparently, it takes enough stomach acid to react with the bicarb to make you burp (again, this is a non-scientific method so try it at your own risk).

Having taken bicarb in the very recent past without even the urge to burp, I proceeded under the premise that I’m not producing enough stomach acid.

Proper Betaine HCL Dose

Off to the health food store I went and picked up my Betaine HCL capsules. To test it out, I sat down to a plate of one of my favorite dishes, Shrimp Fajitas. I took one of the capsules with my meal and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to eat a substantial portion of the meal without the usual football in the stomach feeling. I did experience a little bloating (nothing like my normal 6-month pregnancy look, maybe just clearing my first trimester).

When taking this stuff you have to slowly determine the proper dosage. Since it obviously made a difference, but didn’t quite leave me asymptomatic, at my next meal I tried taking two capsules which worked perfectly. No football and no pregnancy.

Reversing the Process

I’ll hold steady at this dose. According to the Modern Herbalist  and several other sites I visited, with regular usage, my stomach will eventually begin to produce the adequate amount of acids to properly digest my food. This process may take weeks or months.

How do I know when my stomach is re-trained? Well, I guess I’ll experience the same symptoms as I would if I were to take too much Betaine HCL . Flat StomachTaking too much will leave a burning sensation in the belly. If I start to feel the burning sensation after eating, I know there’s too much acid and I’ll back off the HCL.

What Causes Low Stomach Acid Production?

In my case, I believe it’s age. According to the Puristat website, everyone over the age of 40 (which I am) should take a digestive enzyme supplement to aid digestion. No matter what the cause, it’s time to fix the problem.

Update 8/16/2011:

It has been a little over a week since I started taking the Betaine HCL and I can’t tell you how much of a difference it has made. I’ve lost 6 pounds and no longer have a bloated belly.  I feel terrific!

I’ve also found that I don’t need to take it with every meal. I only take it with meals that are high in protein. Apparently, I can digest salads and non-protein foods just fine.  I closely monitor what I eat and how my body reacts before popping these pills.  I’ve even skipped a day and my digestion seemed to do just fine.

Having said that, I’m not totally Betaine HCL free.  The other day when I went to my favorite Mexican restaurant to cozy up to a huge dinner of refried beans and shrimp enchiladas, I made sure to take a couple of capsules with my meal. I was so pleased to be able to walk out of the restaurant and enjoy the rest of my day without the usual discomfort and bloat.

I can’t believe the solution to my problem was so simple.

About the author: Felicia has learned the hard way that health, whether good or bad, is a result of daily choices and habits. On this blog, Felicia shares what she’s learned and the healthier choices she now makes as a result of her new knowledge. She hopes to encourage others to experiment to find alternative solutions to nagging problems (she’s also is a bit of a tree hugger and likes to share ways to lighten the toxic burden on the environment).

in Aging, Ailments, As We Age, Stomach

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Diane August 22, 2011, 11:39 am

    I’ve suffered with the bloated feeling since menopause 10 years ago. I’m going to try this. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • bloated belly August 17, 2011, 3:40 pm

    Glad to hear how Betaine HLC solved your problem. This gives me an idea that I should also try it because my bloated belly isn’t fun either. I thought that maybe I retain too much water and this is why I have this nasty pregnant-like look but your post simply opened my eyes! Thanks for this!