It is estimated that 30% of Americans suffer from varying levels of heart burn, a.k.a. acid reflux or GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease). This is an annoying and health challenging pain in chest areas after eating in which the mixture of stomach acids and undigested foods are pushed from the stomach into the esophagus and occasionally up into the mouth. This is partially because the sphincter is failing to keep stomach contents limited to the stomach.
This stomach acid will damage the esophagus, throat and mouth as these structures are not constructed to withstand acid exposure. Occasionally, repetitive esophagus exposure to this acid can lead to esophagus cancer.
In today’s pharmaceutically oriented health care system the drug group highly marketed and prescribed for acid reflux are the PPI’s (proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium, Prilosec or Prevacid) which stop the stomach cells from producing acid.
Although the strategy of stopping stomach acid production for heart burn seems intuitively correct the use of PPI’s is not only incorrect but jeopardizes health on many levels. When the production of stomach acid is stopped then foods are not digested and nutrients are not absorbed.
Not only is protein / amino acid absorption compromised by PPI’s but the absorption of critical minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium, Selenium and Iron is severely restricted as well as several critical vitamins (e.g. Vitamin B12).
Several recent studies by Johns Hopkins showed that the use of PPI’s increase the incidence of Chronic Kidney Disease by 25-50%. The use of PPI’s in turn raised Blood Pressure and increased Diabetes Type II while causing damaging kidney swelling (interstitial nephritis). This kidney swelling in turn resulted in a decrease in the kidney’s ability to remove toxins which eventually increases the chance of needing kidney dialysis.
By decreasing the mineral absorption through the use of PPI’s, minerals must then be mobilized from the bones leading to osteoporosis. Studies (including a study by the Archives of Internal Medicine) have demonstrated an increase in bone fractures associated with users of PPI’s by up to 40%.
PPI’s also inhibit the absorption of B vitamins, most importantly vitamin B12. This resulted in neurologic impairment, anemia and an increase in Homocysteine. The chance of heart attaches increases with the use of PPI’s due to their effect on Magnesium absorption and an increase in Homocysteine from vitamin B12 deficiency.
Treating the annoying and painful symptoms of acid reflux (GERD) is very simple with PPI’s, yet the severe health consequences of using PPI’s should necessitate finding alternatives to these drugs.
The following are ways to minimize or eliminate the need for PPI’s:
- 1. Using digestive enzymes at meal time. Use these enzymes with Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) at meals to allow for good digestion and not lead to reflux
- 2. Decrease meal size
- 3. Don’t eat close to bedtime
- 4. Minimize water intake during meals because water dilutes the critical digestive enzymes and HCl
- 5. Weight loss- losing weight, especially abdominal weight, takes away the pressure to regurgitate food
- 6. Decrease or eliminate alcohol, nicotine and caffeine which all contribute to and exacerbate acid reflux
- 7. Raise the head with pillows during sleep to use gravity at keeping acids and undigested food in the stomach
Although the use of PPI’s have dramatically increased, more negative health consequences are being discovered attributable to the use of these drugs. Because alternatives for preventing acid reflux / heartburn are available they should be strongly considered. These alternatives have shown they are highly effective.
Enjoy the Journey,
Vital100 Wellness Team