Updated: Jan 28, 2019
Many of my friends and business associates have or have had acid reflux, heart burn, ulcers or similar pains, me too!!. It can be very painful and dangerous. Most end up taking Proton Pump Inhibitors, raising stomach PH, and preventing pepsins (protein digesting enzymes) from being secreted into the stomach, thus relieving symptoms. These types of digestive disturbances are so common, proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, were prescribed at nearly 270 million hospital trips made by adults via ambulance from 2006 to 2010. The standard American diet of sugar-laden, highly-acidic processed foods, and the stress-filled lifestyle that accompanies it, make it easy to swallow the fact that PPIs are among the most highly prescribed drugs on the planet. I would swear that mine started one time from a gang-buster sinus infection causing huge post nasal drip, allowing the bacteria to migrate south into my stomach and take root there due to already low stomach acid production. Some end up on PPIs for a lifetime. PPIs can be a wonderful short term fix, but is not good for the long term. Here are some possible problems with long term use (the first five are from the GreenMedInfo Group):
1. Increased risk for kidney disease
The evidence that PPIs are damaging to the spleen and kidneys first appeared in case reports of acute interstitial nephritis, inflammation of the tissues between renal tubules that affect how our kidneys regulate and uptake water. This condition, which can lead to kidney failure, was observed to occur suddenly and in significantly higher rates among users of PPIs.
2. Increased risk for heart disease
There is now a significant body of evidence demonstrating the adverse cardiovascular effects of PPIs. A June 2016 article published in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs reviewed available information on PPIs in relation to cardiovascular risks, as well as the mechanisms by which this harm occurs. The study confirms the finding that proton pump inhibitor effects are not isolated to stomach cells.
3. Digestive disorders
Most people take PPIs because of digestive system upset, so it may seem oxymoronic to include this condition in the list of reasons not to take PPIs. The most common ailment cited when writing prescriptions for PPIs is gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. This condition, which expresses as excess acid in the stomach, is not the only reason for prescribing a PPI. A PPI prescription is written for 50% of all digestive diseases!
4. Diminished brain function
One of the most startling correlations between proton pump inhibitors and chronic health problems, are the findings related to cognitive disorders. While it’s not such a novel idea that food affects our mood, there isn’t yet a wide consensus on food’s impact on brain health. A study released in Dec 2015 was prompted by research showing that PPIs increase the brain burden of amyloid-beta, an amino acid that is the main component of the amyloid plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer patients. PPIs are also known to create vitamin B12 deficiency, a second factor in Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Increased risk of death
It’s clear from the evidence, as well as common sense, that PPIs have a systemic effect on the entire body, not just the small function they are prescribed to adjust. PPIs launch an attack on basic cellular functioning, inhibiting healthy cell metabolism from taking place. When the body’s ability to convert the building blocks of life, namely proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and nucleic acids, into useable fuel is compromised, so is our immune system, and life begins shutting down. An older study that helped pioneer awareness of harm due to PPIs, is a 2013 study called Inhibition of lysosomal enzyme activities by proton pump inhibitors. Researchers observed that many of the adverse effects of PPIs are caused by systemically compromised immunity, a result of PPI inhibition of lysosomal enzymes. Lysosomes are essentially tiny membranes or sacs that carry enzymes essential to cellular metabolic functions. When PPIs inhibit this function, there is an increased incidence of tumors (tumorigenesis) and infectious diseases.
6. Increased risk of osteoporosis
Just look on the label and its side effects. That is what it says.
7. Increased risk of stomach ulcers and intestinal infection
Our stomach acid is there for many reasons, one of which is to kill bacteria and keep it from taking hold in our stomachs and later on in our intestinal tract. H Pylori, if it gets out of control, causes ulcers. Ulcers can be very dangerous if left untreated, boring a hole through your stomach wall and allowing contents to seep out into the surrounding spaces. Intestinal infection is no fun either, causing constipation/diarrhea and a potential host of systemic problems throughout your body including inflammation, brain fog, mood swings, fatigue and many more.
8. Decreased protein digestion
You see, protein digestion starts in your stomach and requires acidic conditions. So, if you cut off your acid, no protein digestion. It will have to wait until later when your protein passes into your small intestine where pancreatic enzymes go to work on it. So you are missing a critical first step, thus limiting the amount of protein that you can absorb into your body, not a good thing. Plus undigested protein is not a good thing to be hanging around in your digestive tract with a lot of bacteria hanging around. That leads to putrification and digestive problems. Plus, enzymes are made from proteins so if you have less protein coming into your system, you produce less enzymes like pepsin, thus leading to a do loop that is hard to break out of; less protein digestion leading to less digestive enzyme production leading to less protein digestion...you get the idea.
9. Hypothyroid, fatigue and low stomach acid
Here is a fascinating link many are not aware of. Low thyroid production leading to fatigue can be linked to low stomach acid, thus starting the whole cascade of:
Contracting parasites from our food – Stomach acid helps us sterilize our food, killing off potential infecting pathogens. Food sensitivities – Proteins that are not properly broken down are more likely to induce an antigenic response from our immune system leading to food sensitivities, especially to gluten and dairy. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) – Without stomach acid which keeps them at bay, bacteria in the small intestine may grow and thrive on poorly digested proteins. In one small study, 54 percent of people with hypothyroidism were found to have SIBO. Nutrient Depletions – especially in iron, calcium, ferritin, and B12. If prolonged, low stomach acid can lead to hypergastrinemia, (excess secretion of gastrin, another digestive enzyme, as a compensatory mechanism due to low stomach acid), which can lead to tumors/cancerous growth in the gastrointestinal tract. So, PPIs and/or Hypothyroid can lead to low stomach acid. In fact, hypothyroid can set you up to get acid re-flux and ulcers...interesting. Or looked at another way, solving your low stomach acid problem and kill two birds with one stone. It can solve your acid reflux/ulcer issues and help with your fatigue:
"because once we begin to digest our proteins correctly, a few great things can happen:
The body does not need to expend as much energy on digestion, and since digestion is one of our body’s biggest energy expenditures, we often have a surplus of energy.The amino acids found in proteins become bioavailable, helping with creating neurotransmitters and fuel for our bodies. We are less likely to react to our foods, as the food particles get broken down into individual amino acids before they get further down into our gut. We feel lighter after we eat, and do not have cravings for food when full"(From Dr Izabella Wentz)
Now I mentioned stress. You may be unlucky enough to simply have a nervous stomach contributing to your issue. There is a major study that helped us understand the impacts of stress on the system overall and specifically the digestive system. It is called the Baby Monica Study. The originator of what is called the biopsychosocial model, George Engel, might attribute the model to a one-year-old girl who had been born with a congenital condition called esophageal atresia, or in other words, born with an esophagus that didn't attach properly to the stomach. She had a tube placed so that her nurses could feed her directly through this tube. Here is the experiment: the psychiatrist would play the friendly doctor, developing a relationship with Monica so that she feel would comfortable around him. Because they had access to her stomach, they could measure gastric secretions. Whenever the "friendly" psychiatrist would come into the room, baby Monica was happy and excited and her digestive juices were flowing. Whenever Engel would walk into the room, she was afraid and would sometimes cry and withdraw, and her gastric secretions would stop. This should give us all great insights. What if we were chronically in this state where our gastric secretions (HCL and Pepsin) were diminished or stopped? Well, it would be like taking PPIs with all the long term dangers, would it not? And further, it would support the thinking that the best way to eat is in a relaxed, joyful state and in that way, able to make the most out of every bit of life-giving food we consume.
So, what are we supposed to do in order to get out of this trap. Acid re-flux can be dangerous as well. If it constantly irritates the esophagus lining, it can lead to cancer. That is not good either. Here are some ideas to turn your acid re-flux/ulcers around:
- Drink a lot of filtered water, it dilutes your stomach acid.
- Get off of all wheat/rice grains and refined sugars/flours. You don't want to feed your bad bacteria.
- Eat lots of greens. They raise PH and are alkaline, thus keeping acid neutralized in your stomach.
- Try ant-acids first so you don't shut off acid production, you just neutralize it. If you can't get adequate relief, go ahead and get on PPI's. This will give you time to treat your problem and reboot your system.
- Start loading up on fermented foods with every meal, either a probiotic pill and or fermented foods. This will crowd out the unfavorable bacteria in your stomach. I use a combination of both a probiotic pill and fermented foods. At breakfast, I use a heatlhy portion of goat kefir. This also coats my stomach and protects from acid. For lunch and dinner, I use fermented vegetables I buy called Jacobs or Farmer's Ferments. They taste great and are good additions to any meal but especially in salads. You should be able to find them or something similar in your local stores.
- Take Betain HCL with Pepsin for every meal during your meal. This will replace the acid and enzymes you are missing by taking PPIs and keep you from getting stuck in a do loop. Believe it or not, many times our acid reflux is caused by not enough stomach acid rather than too much stomach acid.
- Take AcidRelief360 after your morning and evening meal. This has 5 ingredients known to help sooth and heal the stomach; Slippery Elm, Chamomille, Licorice, Aloe Vera and Lemon Balm.
- Take Dr Axe's Collagen twice a day. It can help heal the stomach lining.
- Take Collostrum once a week. It can help heal the stomach lining and has antibacterial/viral properties while boosting the immune system.
- Cycle off your PPI one day a week to start with to see how you are doing. Instead, pop a Tums if you are feeling irritated. If you make it one day OK, then try two days the next time, then three etc. until you can get off them completely.
- Become appreciative, meditate or pray before each meal, causing gastric juices to flow and slow down your eating, chewing each bite around 20 times, performing properly the first in long series of steps to fully digest your food.
This should help. If you have hypothyroid or are older (Acid production decreases as we get older), you may need to stay on Betain HCL with Pepsin for the rest of your life, but that is a far better alternative than taking drugs and a great prevention technique and bio-hack for your way into a long and healthy old age...
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