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Posts Tagged ‘acid reflux’

Antacids stomach cancer

A recent study found regular use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for acid reflux raises the risk of stomach cancer. PPI users (Prilosec, Prevacid) in the study had twice the risk for stomach cancer compared to those who used H2-receptor acid reducing drugs (Tagamet, Pepcid).

About 20 percent of Americans suffer with acid reflux and heartburn. Most people attribute acid reflux to excess stomach acid. However, the problem is too little stomach acid. How does low stomach acid cause acid reflux?

The stomach is highly acidic by design so that it can quickly break down foods and kill bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens. Good stomach acidity also helps absorb minerals and signal the rest of the digestive tract to release the right hormones, enzymes, and emulsifiers. Sufficient stomach acid is an important first step in ensuring overall digestion runs smoothly and that you are less susceptible to heartburn, indigestion, belching, gas, food allergies, bacterial infection, and abdominal pain.

What causes low stomach acid?

Common factors that cause low stomach acid include stress, bacterial infection, poor diet, and nutritional deficiencies. However, an H. pylori infection, which is linked to stomach ulcers, is the most common cause of low stomach acid.

Other factors that play a role in low stomach acid include hypothyroidism, pernicious anemia, and deficiencies in zinc B12, magnesium, or chloride. People who have been vegetarians or vegans for a long time may be deficient in zinc and B12, which are abundant in meats.

How low stomach acid causes acid reflux

In order for the small intestine to receive food from the stomach, the contents must be acidic enough to trigger that passage. When this fails to happen, the food shoots back up into the esophagus.

Although the food is not acidic enough for the small intestine, it is too acidic for esophageal tissue. This is what causes the burning of acid reflux, or heartburn.

Why antacids worsen acid reflux in the long run

Antacids or acid blockers bring temporary relief but can cause bigger problems in the long run. Without stomach acid to trigger the release of enzymes, digestive hormones, and emulsifiers, nutrient absorption suffers and the digestive tract is more prone to infection, inflammation, and damage.

How to improve low stomach acid

The first thing to do with low stomach acid is address the root cause. As we age, stomach acid naturally decreases. You can boost stomach acid by taking a supplement that contains betaine hydrochloric acid (HCl). However, if you have stomach ulcers or stomach autoimmunity (when the immune system attacks and destroys tissue), supplementing with HCl could make you worse. In these situations you need to address the existing condition first.

Ask my office how to correct low stomach acid, safely supplement with HCl, and improve overall gut health.

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acid-reflux-heartburn-antacids

No one can be blamed for wanting relief, especially when acid reflux makes it feel like molten lava is shooting up through your esophagus. Antacids can bring quick relief, but their long-term use can also bring lasting problems. It’s better to identify and address the underlying causes of acid reflux than simply to squelch the symptoms.

Acid reflux occurs when the contents of the stomach backwash into the esophagus. These contents can include stomach acid, bile, food, or sour liquid. Although the lining of the stomach is designed to handle such an acidic environment, the more delicate tissue of the esophagus is not. As a result, symptoms include indigestion, a burning sensation in the chest (heartburn), and tasting regurgitated food or liquid in the back of your mouth.

Many factors can cause acid reflux, including overeating, obesity, or the types of foods you eat. Spicy foods, fried foods, coffee, chocolate, and citrus are frequently cited as triggering acid reflux. When the reflux becomes constant, it’s worth exploring some of the common underlying conditions.

Possible underlying causes of acid reflux

H. pylori overgrowth: An H. pylori infection occurs in the stomach and is the most common chronic bacterial infection, affecting more than 50 percent of the world’s population. An H. pylori infection may promote acid reflux by decreasing stomach acid. Although acid reflux is associated with too much acidity, the truth is in many cases too little stomach acid causes acid reflux, which I’ll explain in the next paragraph.

Too little stomach acid: Sufficient stomach acid is necessary to break down dietary proteins, ensure absorption of vital nutrients and minerals, and protect the digestive tract from harmful bacteria. It’s believed that low stomach acid, or hypochlorhydria, results in improperly digested food lingering too long in the stomach. Eventually it backwashes into the esophagus, and although the contents are not acidic enough for the stomach, they are too acidic for the delicate esophageal tissue. Factors that cause too little stomach acid include an H. pylori infection, a nutrient-poor diet, stress, and antacid medications.

Gluten: If you eat gluten, it could be a culprit in your acid reflux. One study found chronic acid reflux affected 30 percent of patients with celiac disease compared to less than 5 percent of those not diagnosed with the disease. Another study found almost 40 percent of children with celiac disease suffer from esophagitis, inflammation of the esophagus that causes heartburn.

Acid reflux usually just one of many digestive symptoms

Acid reflux is often just one of many digestive symptoms that can result from poor digestion, food intolerances, chronic stress, gut infections, and other factors. In fact, one study showed that participants with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were nearly twice as likely as non IBS participants to suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic, advanced form of acid reflux. Conversely, another study found a majority of participants with GERD also suffered from IBS.

Although antacids can bring temporarily relief, they may also worsen your acid reflux problem in the long run. Ultimately, antacids reduce stomach acid, hinder digestion, and inhibit nutrient absorption. In addition, antacids are shown to weaken bones and increase the risk of food poisoning.

For natural ways to relieve your acid reflux, please contact my office.

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Heartburn-acid-reflux-gerd-gluten-autoimmune

Call it acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD, but having stomach acid splash back up into your esophagus is painful and distressing. Although researchers cite various causes, one that many doctors overlook is gluten, the protein found in wheat, spelt, rye, barley, and other wheat-like grains.

Studies link gluten with acid reflux

Research shows acid reflux symptoms more commonly affect those with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten. One study found 30 percent of celiac disease patients had GERD compared to less than 5 percent of those not diagnosed with the disease. Another study found almost 40 percent of children with celiac disease suffer from esophagitis, inflammation of the esophagus and heartburn.

Gluten-free diet found to relieve heartburn

Fortunately, researchers also found a gluten-free diet relieved symptoms of GERD rapidly and persistently. Some people have found they also need to give up grains, processed foods, or other foods to which they are intolerant (such as dairy) to completely relieve acid reflux.

GERD could be autoimmune

Some research shows that stomach acid is not acidic enough to immediately damage the esophagus. Instead, it triggers an inflammatory reaction within the tissue of the esophagus, causing damage.

What does gluten have to do with this? Gluten has been shown to be very pro-inflammatory in many people, and has been linked with 55 autoimmune diseases. It’s possible acid reflux could be yet another inflammatory disorder triggered by gluten.

Antacids increase health risks

Most people relieve acid reflux by taking an antacid to neutralize stomach acid, with sales of the drug topping $10 billion annually. Not only does this fail to stop stomach acid from washing back up into the esophagus (one study showed protein-pump inhibitors actually induce acid reflux), it also impairs nutrient absorption.

Antacids may increase food poisoning risk

Stomach acid is vital to the absorption of minerals and vitamins, and protects the stomach from bacteria, fungus, and infection. Chronic use of antacids has been linked to increased risk for bacterial infections, candida (yeast) overgrowth, and food poisoning.

Antacids may increase osteoporosis risk

Chronic antacid use also impairs absorption of minerals, including calcium, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

Proper testing for gluten intolerance vital

With one in five people now believed to be suffering from gluten sensitivity, it’s important to know whether you are too, and whether undiagnosed gluten intolerance is contributing to heartburn.

The conventional tests to screen gluten intolerance are notoriously inaccurate. For cutting-edge testing, please contact my office.

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