By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
January 10, 2020
I learned a while ago that I can’t handle red tomato sauces for dinner. The acidity in foods like pizza and pastas just doesn’t agree with me anymore.
So, when indigestion or acid reflux strikes, I find immediate relief with two Alka-Seltzer tablets.
‘Plop, plop, fizz, fizz’… the bicarbonate in these little tablets has provided relief for hundreds of years. It’s actually healthy!
They work immediately and there’s no issue of having more of an alkaline base in my blood. Now, this works for me because I specifically know the tomato sauce is causing my discomfort.
But if you suffer frequently from general indigestion or acid reflux, you may be tempted to reach for an antacid pill.
After all, what harm could it do?
Well, some antacids might be doing more damage than you would expect.
They’re called protein pump inhibitors, or PPIs. Some of the brands that fall into this category include Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid.
Now, the whole purpose of these drugs is to reduce the production of hydrochloric acid (HCL) in your stomach.
Well, that’s a real problem, because at least half of patients with heartburn—especially those over age 60—don’t have enough stomach acid to start with!
Once we hit the age of 55, 60, or 65, the cells in our stomach are not able to make HCL as well as they used to. The bile salts from our liver sometimes back up.
And, when you have too little HCL, you end up with the same problems that occur when you have too much: heartburn, acid reflux, sour stomach and so on.
People think they have too much acid, when they actually have too little.
This means you might be treating the wrong problem altogether. And it could be making matters much worse.
Even more troubling, this class of drugs comes with a host of dangers that their manufacturers would much rather you didn’t know about.
PPIs can double your risk of developing chronic kidney disease. They increase your chance of a heart attack by about 20%… and deplete both your vitamin B12 and magnesium stores.
Plus, PPIs can weaken your bones which increases your risk of a hip or spinal fracture. They also strip away beneficial bacteria in your gut, leaving you open to antibiotic resistant infections like clostridium difficile — a “super-bug” that causes diarrhea and colon inflammation.
Needless to say, these risks aren’t minor. And if the PPI antacids aren’t even treating the right problem to start with, it just adds insult to injury.
So here’s what I suggest.
You can find out if low HCL is the source of your problem by taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar the next time heartburn strikes. If the pain disappears, that’s a pretty good indication your body isn’t producing enough hydrochloric acid.
There are also tests any GI specialist can do that can tell if you have low levels of HCL.
In this case, restoring your body’s natural production of stomach acid is at the top of your list. And it’s easy enough to do. Just take 650 mg of HCL betaine with pepsin at the beginning of each meal.
Once your natural levels are restored, you’ll start to feel a little burning after taking a dose. This is your signal to lower the dose until you can discontinue it altogether.
It’s also important to replenish your natural digestive enzymes.
The best way to do this is by eating more raw fruits and vegetables. Papaya, pineapple, kiwi, parsley, kale, broccoli, apples, pears, strawberries and sprouted grains are all great sources.
Or, you can restore a natural acid and enzyme balance by supplementing with digestive enzymes. Choose a formula that contains a good mix of enzymes, including:
- Amylase for carbohydrate digestion
- Protease to help digest proteins
- Lipase for the digestion of fats
- Maltase to convert complex sugars in grain foods to glucose
- Cellulase to break down fibers
- Sucrase to help digest sugars
Last, but not least, you’ll want to repair any damage caused by GERD and acid-blocking drugs.
For that, try deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). It can help ease your heartburn symptoms while repairing the mucosal lining of the stomach. Simply chew two DGL tablets before eating or whenever heartburn strikes.
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