Many Americans suffer from acid reflux and frequently use acid suppressing medications to manage their symptoms. Acid reflux is caused by gastrointestinal dysfunction and poor diet. When we eat unhealthy foods such as sugar, breads, dairy, greasy or processed foods, and eat heavy, rich meals our stomachs can have difficulty with digestion.
Taking a pill to ease symptoms in the short term or using a preventative daily acid suppressing medication may seem like a good idea, but it actually causes many long term problems. It also does not address the root cause of the acid reflux. Surprisingly, acid reflux is often caused by LOW stomach acid!
Excess acid is often not the problem, but rather minimal acid back up into the esophagus due to poor digestion, overeating or sphincter dysfunction. Continuing to eat unhealthy foods and taking acid blocking medication for years or decades is one of the worst things you can do for your health. Since the medications are working to further reduce possibly already low stomach acid, they make the whole situation much worse and can lead to serious chronic conditions.
Let’s take a closer look at low stomach acid, what causes it and why it is a problem.
What are the causes of low stomach acid?
– Natural decline after age 50
– Long term use of acid suppressing medications: Pepcid AC, Pantoprazole, Tagamet, Zantac, Prilosec, Mylanta, Tums
– Over use of antibiotics or NSAIDs
– H.pylori infection
– Poor diet causing chronic inflammation
What are the consequences of low stomach acid?
– Protein and fiber can not be broken down into vital nutrients
– When foods are not properly digested, they fester in the stomach, back up into the esophagus and damage the lining
– Decreased absorption of vitamins and minerals especially B vitamins, Zinc, calcium, iron
– When proteins are not broken down, they can slip through a leaky gut lining, causing systemic inflammation and lead to autoimmune disorders
– Stomach acid kills bacteria, low acid increases bacterial overgrowth and risk of dangerous infections
– Increased risk of stomach cancer
What are the symptoms of low stomach acid?
– Acid reflux
– Indigestion, bloating, gas
– Skin issues: acne, eczema, rosacea
– Weak nails and brittle hair or hair loss
– Chronic GI infections
What supplements can help with digestion?
– Betaine HCl w/Pepsin
– Digestive enzymes
– B vitamins
– Vitamin D
– Essential fatty acids/omega 3s
What other ways can I aid digestion?
– Reduce dairy, sugar, coffee, alcohol, soda, and smoking
– Eat smaller meals
– Eat slowly and chew food thoroughly
– Don’t lay down soon after eating
– Don’t eat on the go while running around
– Reduce stress
– Cut out icy drinks and reduce raw foods
– See an acupuncturist and herbalist
Acupuncture can help relieve stress and enhance digestion. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine combined has been shown in research to significantly reduce esophageal acid reflux, relieve GERD symptoms and improve quality of life. The same research has also shown that when taking 40mg/day of pantoprazole, patients experienced worsened symptoms. Click here to read that research study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23297557
This blog is intended for educational purposes only. Please see a trained professional before making any medication or supplement changes. It is never a good idea to abruptly quit medications or to do so without proper supervision.