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Researchers Claim This Pill Could Replace Gastric Bypass

Researchers Claim This Pill Could Replace Gastric Bypass

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In an attempt to eliminate the risks associated with weight loss surgery, researchers have created a pill that mimics its effects. But how effective—or safe—is it?

Weight loss surgery has surged in popularity over the last decade. In 2016 alone, more than 216,000 people underwent some form of bariatric surgery—which involves removing or obstructing part of the stomach and intestine, to reduce a person's ability to consume or absorb foods.

But there are definite risks. In the last two years at least 12 people have died from one of the procedures, which involves placing an inflated balloon in part of the stomach. And complications from even the more traditional methods is high, with patients suffering from malnutrition, vomiting, ulcers, and more.

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So a team of researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital outside of Boston are hoping to reduce that risk, while still lowering obesity rates and associated diseases such as type 2 diabetes, with a pill. If successful, they say the new product could replace gastric bypass surgery altogether.

The researchers' initial findings, which were based on experiments and tests done on lab rats, were highlighted in a new paper published in the journal Nature Materials earlier this week. The pill works to negate the effects of overeating by coating the intestine with a compound called LuCI, which then prevents the intestines or stomach from absorbing nutrients. According to initial results, the LuCI compound lowered the rats' response to glucose by 47 percent within an hour of ingesting the pill—theoretically, this means it could be used to help people with diabetes.

The intestinal coating dissolves within a few hours, which makes it much less permanent than surgery. Dr. Ali Tavakkoli, a bariatric surgeon and co-director of Brigham's Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery, told the Boston Herald that as little as one to two percent of overweight patients who qualify for a gastric bypass actually go under the knife—possibly due to the fact that these procedures are irreversible.

“I think some of it may be insurance barriers and access to care,” Tavakkoli told the Herald. “A large part is patients are worried about having a surgery that appears to be complex and leads to permanent change.”

Individuals who want to undergo the procedure must have a body mass index of at least 40, which means that moderately overweight individuals are also not eligible. But the health effect of the surgery, despite any inherent risks or long-term consequences, is often heralded by those in the health industry: Gastric bypass more often than not sends Type 2 diabetes into permanent remission.

While the LuCI-filled pill could have implications for treating obesity and related diseases in the United States, there are many hurdles to clear before the drug is available. Clinical trials with actual human subjects will need to be done, for instance.

Even if eventually cleared by the FDA, it's not certain that the pill will become an effective—or popular—solution. Other weight-loss solutions that involved decreasing a food's digestibility have not fared well. In the early 90s an additive called olestra—a fat molecule that was too big to be absorbed—was heavily marketed in chips, but failed to take off when users became aware that eat it inhibited nutrient absorption and led to abdominal cramping and other unwanted side effects.

Bottom line: It remains to be seen if this product could be a solution to obesity and diabetes, but for now, for the majority of Americans struggling with diet and nutrition, the best solution is still to choose reasonable amounts of whole food for optimum health—and choosing to cook meals in your own kitchen is one of the best ways to do that.

So-Called Gastric Bypass in a Pill Helps Mice Lose Weight

A team of researchers now claim that losing weight without having to undergo gastric bypass surgery is very much possible, provided that the individual who wishes to shed some pounds agrees to have new bacteria transplanted into their guts.

The scientists base their claims on several experiments carried out on laboratory mice. More precisely, it appears that the rodents that were made to ingest a new set of gut bacteria dropped about 5% of their body weight, despite the fact that the animals were not made to go on a diet.

Nature informs us that the bacteria transplanted in these mice were collected from mice that used to be overweight and which succeeded in losing about 30% of their body weight with the help of bypass surgery.

&ldquoTransfer of the gut microbiota from RYGB-treated mice to nonoperated, germ-free mice resulted in weight loss and decreased fat mass in the recipient animals,&rdquo the researchers write in their study.

As the scientists explain, the findings of these experiments add support to the theory that bypass surgeries cause weight loss not just because one's stomach is greatly reduced, but also because they trigger changes in the bacterial content of one's guts.

&ldquoThese findings provide the first empirical support for the claim that changes in the gut microbiota contribute to reduced host weight and adiposity after RYGB surgery,&rdquo the study reads.

According to one study published just a few days ago, the microorganism inside one person's body can influence how much that person weighs, regardless of what and how much they eat.

Therefore, it is plausible that weight loss can by triggered by transplanting new gut bacteria.

However, further research on the matter at hand is needed. This is because, as long as the environmental conditions in the gut remain the same, the new bacteria are bound to sooner or later be replaced by the old ones.

&ldquoYou can&rsquot just take a pill of the right bacteria and have them stick around,&rdquo researcher Randy Seeley says.

The findings of these experiments are detailed in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

This Pill Could Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

Most people don’t think of type 2 diabetes as a disease you can cure. Well, for some patients, it’s possible we can — with gastric bypass surgery. It can also lead to potentially life-saving weight loss, lower blood pressure, and relieve depression. In fact, in one study of 20,000 patients who had gastric bypass surgery, 84 percent found their type 2 diabetes completely cured.

There are downsides, however. Possible side effects include hernias, infection, blood clots, ulcers, and even death.

So, what if type 2 diabetes patients could get the same benefits of gastric bypass surgery without going under the knife?

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) think they’re on track to figure out just how to do that. They published their findings Monday in Nature Materials.



A quick primer on gastric bypass surgery. Though the specifics can vary, the surgery basically “shrinks” the size of a person’s stomach by blocking off a large portion of the organ from the rest. Surgeons do the same in the small intestine.

With a stomach that can now only hold a very small amount of food, patients can no longer eat large meals. Additionally, because the food they do eat no longer travels through the entire small intestine, the body doesn’t absorb as many nutrients. Cumulative effect: weight loss.

People with type 2 diabetes have unusually high blood glucose (sugar) levels. Food consumption plays a major role in this elevation, and weight loss is one way to effectively treat it. So, people get gastric bypass surgery, lose weight, and reverse their diabetes. Cut and dry, right?

Not according to doctors. Many aren’t convinced that weight loss deserves all the credit for reversing type 2 diabetes in gastric bypass patients. In fact, they don’t really know why the surgery helps, just that it does.



The BWH team’s gastric bypass alternative could help, too. Here’s how it works.

Using an FDA-approved drug called sucralfate as a base, the team engineered a compound they call LuCI (Luminal Coating of the Intestine). Once ingested, the compound temporarily coats the inner lining of the intestine. This essentially replicates how the surgery makes part of the intestine unable to absorb nutrients. And it seems effective — within an hour of administration, LuCI lowered rats’ after-meal response to glucose by 47 percent.

“What we’ve developed here is essentially, ‘surgery in a pill,'” study co-lead author Yuhan Lee said in a press release. “We’ve used a bioengineering approach to formulate a pill that has good adhesion properties and can attach nicely to the gut in a preclinical model. And after a couple of hours, its effects dissipate.”

The pill, of course, isn’t quite ready to go on sale yet. Next, the researchers plan to test LuCI in diabetic and obese rats. If it works as hoped, the drug could one day provide a much-needed replacement for gastric bypass surgery in reversing type 2 diabetes.

Gastric bypass surgery leads to long-term diabetes remission

More than half of adults with type 2 diabetes had long-term remission following gastric bypass surgery, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society&rsquos Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Bariatric surgery helps people with severe obesity lose a lot of weight and improve their health. Two common types of bariatric surgery are lap band surgery, which places a band around the top of the stomach to create a very small pouch that can hold only a small amount of food, and gastric bypass, which reduces the size of the stomach, causes hormonal changes, and can lower the amount of nutrients that are absorbed from food. One of the biggest benefits of bariatric surgery is that it can improve or eliminate type 2 diabetes.

&ldquoIf a patient with type 2 diabetes is considering weight loss surgery, choosing gastric bypass soon after diagnosis can increase their chance of remission or achieving a blood sugar level that does not need treatment,&rdquo said study author Jonathan Q. Purnell, M.D., of the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Ore. &ldquoOur large study confirms the importance of weight loss on inducing diabetes remission, but also finds gastric bypass has benefits independent of weight. If we can understand what these benefits are, it could lead to new diabetes treatments.&rdquo

The researchers studied 2,256 adults with severe obesity (a BMI of at least 35 kg/m 2 ) who completed annual research assessments for up to seven years after bariatric surgery, roughly 35 percent of whom had type 2 diabetes. Fifty seven percent of participants with diabetes achieved remission after gastric bypass surgery, and 22 percent reached remission after lap band surgery. For both procedures, remission was more common in younger participants and those who had diabetes for a shorter time prior to their procedure. The researchers found a greater likelihood of diabetes remission after gastric bypass independent of weight loss, suggesting mechanisms beyond weight loss are contributing to improved blood sugar levels.

Other authors of the study include: Elizabeth N. Dewey and Bruce M. Wolfe of the Oregon Health & Science University Blandine Laferrère of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, N.Y. Faith Selzer of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass. David R. Flum of the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash. James E. Mitchell of the University of North Dakota in Fargo, N.D. Alfons Pomp of the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, N.Y. Walter J. Pories of the East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. Thomas Inge of the University of Colorado in Denver, Colo. and Anita Courcoulas of the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pa.

The manuscript received funding from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Institutes of Health.

Endocrinologists are at the core of solving the most pressing health problems of our time, from diabetes and obesity to infertility, bone health, and hormone-related cancers. The Endocrine Society is the world&rsquos oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related conditions.

This tiny wireless device can help obese people lose weight, without surgery

There is hardly a challenge we haven’t taken up in the name of weight loss. Then be it taking up complicated fitness challenges or experimenting with diets, ranging from intermittent fasting to Paleo. That said, not all measures work equally for everyone.

For many people, weight loss is a medical necessity and not just about the way they look. For them, bariatric surgery or gastric bypass surgery are the last resort. However, a tiny device armed with cutting-edge technology could very well change that.

You see, scientists have developed a tiny wireless device that could help to shed body weight by stimulating nerve endings. The best part? This device can be inserted via a simple implantation procedure.

This wireless weight loss device is an alternative to gastric bypass surgery

Gastric bypass surgery is sometimes the last resort for people who struggle with obesity or have serious health-related issues due to their weight. Since this procedure involves making a small stomach pouch and rerouting the digestive tract, it is very invasive and prolongs the recovery period for patients.

However, researchers at Texas A&M University have developed a centimetre-sized device that provides the feeling of fullness by stimulating the endings of the vagus nerve with light. Unlike other devices that require a power cord, this wireless device can be controlled externally from a remote radio frequency source.

“We wanted to create a device that not only requires minimal surgery for implantation but also allows us to stimulate specific nerve endings in the stomach,” said Dr Sung II Park, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“Our device has the potential to do both of these things in the harsh gastric conditions, which, in the future, can be hugely beneficial to people needing dramatic weight-loss surgeries,” he added.

Obesity puts people at risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers. For those with a body mass index greater than 35 or who have at least two obesity-related conditions, surgery offers a path for patients to not only lose the excess weight but maintain their weight over the long term.

Meet the vagus nerve, the modulator of the brain-gut axis

In recent years, the vagus nerve has received much attention as a target for treating obesity since it provides sensory information about fullness from the stomach lining to the brain.

Although there are many medical devices that can stimulate the vagus nerve endings and consequently help in curbing hunger, these devices are similar in design to a pacemaker, that is, wires connected to a current source provide electrical jolts to activate the tips of the nerve.

“Despite the clinical benefit of having a wireless system, no device, as of yet, has the capability to do chronic and durable cell-type specific manipulation of neuron activity inside of any other organ other than the brain,” said Dr Park.

To address this gap, Park and his team first used genetic tools to express genes that respond to light into specific vagus nerve endings in vivo. Then, they designed a tiny, paddle-shaped device and inserted micro LEDs near the tip of its flexible shaft, which was fastened to the stomach.

In the head of the device, called the harvester, they housed microchips needed for the device to wirelessly communicate with an external radio frequency source. The harvester was also equipped to produce tiny currents to power the LEDs. When the radio frequency source was switched on, the researchers showed that the light from the LEDs was effective at suppressing hunger.

The researchers said this device could also be used to manipulate nerve endings throughout the gastrointestinal tract and other organs, like the intestine, with little or no modifications. The workings of this device and findings of their research are published in the journal Nature Communications.

Bariatric surgery in a pill takes a step forward

It’s more of a glimmer of hope on the horizon than it is an actual drug right now. But an Indiana University lab has synthesized and fused a trio of gut hormones into a single agent and shown that obese rodents treated with the resulting molecule experience dramatic weight loss and a reversal of obesity-related ills such as Type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.

Reporting their latest findings this week in the journal Nature Medicine, the authors of the new study described a cascade of synergistic effects in lab animals in response to the three-hormone agent the researchers devised.

The researchers likened the results in lab animals to the subtle and far-reaching changes brought about in human patients following bariatric surgery, who not only experience weight loss in response to gastric bypass surgery, but often an abrupt reversal of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation and worrisome cholesterol readings.

The strategy of targeting several of obesity’s causes with a single multipronged treatment, the authors of the latest research wrote, “has the potential to be the most effective pharmacological approach to reversing obesity and related metabolic disorders.”

In obese mice, the agent brought about a weight reduction approaching 30% and reversing some of the hallmarks of Type 2 diabetes. Early clinical trials in humans already are underway to test prototype molecules based on the principles explored in the latest study. Those are sponsored by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, which owns Marcadia Biotech, the Indiana-based biotech company founded by Richard DiMarchi, one of the latest study’s senior authors.

“We have a global epidemic of obesity and related diseases, and gastric bypass is not going to be available or appropriate for everyone,” DiMarchi said in an interview with The Times. “It’s expensive, it involves surgical risks, and quite frankly, it’s primitive.

“If we’re going to find a breakthrough that meets the needs of this population, it’s going to take bold thinking,” he added. “This is one possible way forward. Let’s hope the clinical data supports it.”

The history of weight-loss drug development is littered with failures, not least because most drug developers tend to fasten on to a single physiological goal--to reduce fat deposition, to improve insulin sensitivity, or to blunt appetite, for instance--and design a drug to influence that one contributor to obesity and its related ills.

The problem is that healthy humans and other mammals appear to be programmed by evolution to hold on to weight gained at all costs--even if it brings disease. Signals from the gut, brain, fat stores and visceral organs all contribute to consumption and energy usage in complex, interconnected ways. Even if a medication succeeds in harnessing one of those components to the task of weight loss, others are likely to step in to thwart the effort.

In the process, metabolic processes are disturbed and stomach distress is a common side effect. One isolated measure of good health--insulin sensitivity or weight--may be improved. But body composition may change for the worse, or blood sugar levels may continue to waver, and the larger goal of better health remains unrealized.

DiMarchi’s lab, which reengineers proteins to make more powerful or targeted medicines, set out to beat the system by attacking three targets at once. They engineered a single new peptide by integrating three gastrointestinal hormones at the molecular level (glucagon-like peptide-1, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide, and glucagon receptors). Those act on three key hormone receptors that govern metabolism and digestion, nudging them to work cooperatively to support weight loss, enhance glycemic control and reverse the accumulation of damaging fat in the liver.

In obese mice, a very low dose of the prototype therapy brought a 15% weight loss in 20 days (a higher dose produced a nearly 27% weight loss), reducing food intake and lowering circulating glucose without driving it so low as to induce hypoglycemia. Insulin sensitivity improved, body composition took a turn for the leaner, and evidence of fatty liver decreased.

Though testing of such an approach is in the very early stages, these improvements are on a par with those seen in patients after bariatric surgery, DiMarchi said. And that is promising.

It remains to be seen whether the same widespread effects can be replicated in humans, he added. Given the expectation that such a medication--should it pan out--would need to be used “for a sustained period,” he cautioned, its safety and continued effectiveness over the long term would also need to be demonstrated.

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Melissa Healy is a health and science reporter with the Los Angeles Times writing from the Washington, D.C., area. She covers prescription drugs, obesity, nutrition and exercise, and neuroscience, mental health and human behavior. She’s been at The Times for more than 30 years, and has covered national security, environment, domestic social policy, Congress and the White House. As a baby boomer, she keenly follows trends in midlife weight gain, memory loss and the health benefits of red wine.

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Weight loss pill turns into balloon when swallowed

The pill, called the Obalon balloon, is a capsule containing an a balloon. As CBS News&rsquo Alphonso Van Marsh reports, after a patient swallows the pill, surgeons inflate the balloon inside to make them feel full and eat less.

The device is not permanent though, and needs to be removed after about three months.

&ldquoThis balloon will act to educate them about portion size and retrain their brain and their mindset a little,&rdquo Dr. Sally Norton, a bariatric surgeon at Spire Hospital, Bristol, told CBS News. Her hospital offers the procedure.

The pill capsule is attached to a tube that can be inflated. Once the capsule hits the stomach, the balloon gets released. A doctor can use an X-ray to find where the balloon is and inflate it with gas through the tube. After, the doctor pulls the tube out through the patient&rsquos mouth, leaving the balloon floating in the stomach.

Up to three balloons are introduced to the stomach over the 12-week period, with placement depending on patient&rsquos fullness and weight loss progress, according to the product website. This fills the stomach, in turn making the patient feel more full.

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The device&rsquos makers claim overweight and obese patients can lose up to 20 pounds in three months.

The treatment is not currently approved in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration and is not covered through the U.K.&rsquos National Health Service (NHS). Patients in the U.K. can pay more than $3,300 if they want to get the treatment, Sky News reported. A two-balloon procedure may cost about $5,000, according to Van Marsh.

However, experts are not convinced the treatment will be a cure-all for obesity, given the balloons have to be deflated and removed after the 12 weeks are over.

&ldquoWhen they take the balloons out, what happens is the stomach hasn&rsquot shrunk,&rdquo Tim Bean, a U.K.-based fitness expert, said to CBS News. &ldquoSo you&rsquore left with the same size stomach, or possibly even bigger than there was beforehand.&rdquo

Other medical options for weight loss, like the four types of bariatric surgeries, can be more invasive. Some patients undergo the Lap-band procedure. The band is an adjustable ring that wraps around the upper portion of the stomach. It can be inflated by doctors by placing a small needle into a reservoir and filling it with liquid. The more liquid, the tighter the band gets, which makes the stomach smaller and in turn limits food intake.

Other procedures include the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, the most common surgery, where a doctor staples a portion of the stomach together to create a smaller pouch to limit how much food a person could eat.

There&rsquos also the less common form of bypass called a biliopancreatic diversion with a duodenal switch, where a large portion of the stomach is removed and the remaining pouch is attached to the last segment of the small intestine.

Another procedure known as a vertical sleeve gastrectomy can also be undertaken. Patients have most of their stomach removed, and the remaining portions are joined by staples, leaving a small tube-shaped stomach that fills up quickly.

New Diet Pill Doubles Weight Loss of Current Drugs

While some say the new pill could replace obesity surgery, others urge caution.

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- A new diet drug, tesofensine, produces twice the weight loss of currently available obesity drugs, Danish researchers report.

"Tesofensine produces a weight loss of approximately 10 percent more than placebo and diet in obese patients," said lead researcher Dr. Arne Astrup, from the Department of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Life Sciences, at the University of Copenhagen. Other drugs produce only about 5 percent weight loss, Astrup noted.

This drug could replace the need for gastric bypass surgery in some obese patients. "There is an enormous gap between the existing weight-loss compounds and gastric surgery," Astrup said. "Tesofensine could close that gap. If you combine the drug with an effective diet, you could probably reach the 20 percent weight loss seen in gastric surgery."

"Tesofensine could compete with gastric surgery and be offered to those who are below the threshold for surgery or for patients who do not wish [to have] gastric surgery," Astrup said. "There are also patients who cannot tolerate gastric surgery."

The report was published in the Oct. 23 online issue of The Lancet.

For the study, Astrup's team conducted a phase II trial in which they randomly assigned 203 obese patients to receive three different daily doses of tesofensine or placebo. The participants were also put on a low-energy diet.

Among the 161 who completed the trial, those who received tesofensine lost more weight than those receiving placebo. Over 24 weeks, those receiving the lowest dose of tesofensine (0.25 milligrams) lost 14.7 pounds, while those taking 0.5 milligrams lost 25 pounds, and those taking the highest dose (1 milligram) lost 28 pounds. People receiving placebo lost less than 5 pounds.

The weight loss among people who took 0.5 or 1 milligram of tesofensine was double that of weight loss seen with the currently available diet drugs Acomplia (rimonabant) or Meridia (sibutramine), the researchers said.

People taking the highest dose of tesofensine experienced a rise in blood pressure. Other side effects of the drug included dry mouth, nausea, constipation, hard stools, diarrhea and insomnia.

Astrup believes that the 0.5 milligram dose is the best, because it produced weight loss with the fewest side effects.

Early evidence shows that people who stay on the drug maintain their weight loss and may even continue to lose weight, Astrup said.

Once starting the drug, people would need to keep taking it to maintain the benefit, Astrup said. "There is no treatment that is working beyond its taking. This is true for all anti-diabetic medication, hypertension medication and everything, including anti-obesity drugs," he said. "It's a long-term treatment, and, in some cases, a permanent treatment to keep body weight down."

Tesofensine works by inhibiting the neurotransmitters noradrenalin, dopamine and serotonin in the brain. In turn, this suppresses hunger, leading to an energy deficit which burns excess body fat. The drug's effect was first noticed in trials involving Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients.

Larger clinical trials of tesofensine are expected to begin next year, Astrup said.

Astrup noted that Neurosearch, the maker of tesofensine, is seeking approval for the drug in the United States and Europe. Astrup is a paid consultant for Neurosearch and also owns stock in the company.

Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, thinks that the true test of any diet or drug is its ability to keep weight off over time.

"Losing weight, in the short term, though not easy, is not all that challenging," Katz said. "Any diet that restricts choice will tend to work, from low fat, to low carb, to cabbage soup or grapefruit, and a number of drugs can provide this effect as well, including, it seems, tesofensine," he said.

But the real test is sustainable weight control over the long term, Katz said. "This six-month study cannot tell us if tesofensine will pass that test," he noted.

This trial did find that tesofensine increased heart rate and blood pressure slightly, and reduced lean body mass along with fat mass. "These effects are all of potential concern," Katz noted.

"Additional study is needed to tell us what place tesofensine might occupy among the strategies available to facilitate sustainable, healthful weight loss," Katz said. "Though promising, this study does not yet get us there."

How can you naturally increase stomach acid?

Having low levels of stomach acid can lead to a range of unpleasant side effects and leave the body vulnerable to infections. However, there are several things a person can try to help increase their stomach acid.

Stomach, or gastric, acid is a digestive fluid containing hydrochloric acid (HCL) and digestive enzymes. Stomach acid breaks down food and kills harmful bacteria.

There are a number of reasons the stomach may not produce enough acid. Some of these include infection, taking certain medications , and the aging process.

The medical term for low stomach acid is hypochlorhydria. When this happens, the other digestive organs cannot absorb essential nutrients from the food a person eats.

This article will discuss six natural ways to increase stomach acid. It will also examine the causes of low stomach acid and some associated risk factors.

Share on Pinterest Taking certain supplements and making some dietary changes may help, though the available evidence is slim.

Treatments for low stomach acid depend on the underlying cause. However, there are some methods a person can try at home to improve stomach acid levels.

Below are six things a person can try to increase stomach acid naturally.

1. Try HCL supplements

According to a 2015 review , older adults have a higher risk of developing digestive conditions that reduce their stomach acid levels.

Digestive conditions that may decrease stomach acid levels include Helicobacter pylori infection (a bacterial infection of the stomach) and atrophic gastritis (which is characterized by chronic inflammation of the lining of the stomach).

As a person ages, their stomach also produces less pepsin. Pepsin is an enzyme that breaks down proteins and aids digestion.

People with low levels of stomach acid may benefit from taking HCL supplements. Digestive enzyme supplements that also contain pepsin may be especially beneficial for older adults.

However, a person should speak with a doctor before taking any supplements. Although supplements may alleviate symptoms, the hypochlorhydria may be due to an underlying health condition that requires medical attention.

2. Increase zinc intake

Zinc is an essential mineral present in human cells. The stomach uses zinc to produce HCL.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend that adults consume 8–11 milligrams of zinc each day.

People who do not get enough zinc in their diets and those with poor zinc absorption may have low stomach acid levels. Addressing a zinc deficiency could help increase stomach acidity.

People can increase their zinc intake by making dietary changes or taking zinc supplements. However, they should speak with their healthcare provider before starting any new supplements.

Some zinc-rich foods a person can add to their diet include:

  • oysters
  • lobster
  • beef
  • nuts and seed cashews
  • beans
  • yogurt
  • fortified breakfast cereal

3. Take probiotics

Probiotics are microorganisms that support a healthful balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

A 2017 review article found evidence of an association between low stomach acidity and bacterial overgrowth in the gut.

Taking probiotics may inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and help increase levels of stomach acid.

Foods that naturally contain probiotics include:

  • yogurt
  • cottage cheese
  • kefir
  • sauerkraut
  • kimchi
  • tempeh
  • kombucha
  • miso

4. Eat ginger

Ginger possesses anti-inflammatory properties that may help alleviate stomach inflammation due to low stomach acid.

People commonly use ginger as a natural remedy for nausea, stomach pain, and indigestion.

Some proponents suggest that ginger may stimulate the production and secretion of essential digestive enzymes and increase movement through the intestines.

However, there is not enough scientific evidence to fully support these claims. More high quality studies are necessary.

5. Limit refined carbohydrate intake

Making certain dietary changes may help increase stomach acidity. For example, diets that are high in refined carbohydrates (sugars and low fiber, starchy foods) may lead to inflammation in the stomach and other digestive organs.

Although some research suggests that the inflammation is directly due to refined carbohydrates and excess sugar, some experts suggest that it may be due to an overgrowth of yeast fungi in the stomach that causes diarrhea, bloating, and constipation.

Proponents may suggest trying the candida diet, which involves eliminating gluten, sugar, and certain dairy products. However, there is little scientific evidence to prove that this can prevent an overgrowth of yeast fungi in the gut.

6. Chew thoroughly

Mastication is the technical term for chewing food, and it is the first step in the digestive process. Chewing breaks down food into smaller pieces. These pieces then mix with saliva, which leads to the next step of the digestive process.

People who experience symptoms of low stomach acid may want to consider taking smaller bites and chewing their food thoroughly. This may allow for adequate digestion.

Hypochlorhydria is a condition that occurs when a person has low levels of HCL in their stomach. It can lead to symptoms such as:

Could drugs replace gastric bypass surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery is one of the most successful treatments for obesity and related disorders however, some patients may not want to undergo surgery. In an attempt to reduce nutrient absorption and replicate the effects of gastric bypass surgery, researchers screened for inhibitors of an amino acid transporter, called B0AT1, and discovered a number of agents -- including benztropine, a drug that is already in clinical use -- as promising candidates.

"These compounds are just a start and need to be developed further, but they could potentially replace surgical procedures and be used together with other drugs to treat type 2 diabetes," said Dr. Stefan Bröer, senior author of the British Journal of Pharmacology study.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.