It may be time to rethink long term use and need of proton pump inhibitor, the acid reflux medication. Proton pump inhibitors are designed to cut down on the backward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus (the tube that connects the throat to the stomach). These medications have been on the market for two decades and include drugs such as Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid. The sales of these medicines have soared to roughly $11.4 billion worth of prescriptions by last year’s count and are currently the fourth largest amount for a class of drugs. This number doesn’t reflect the sales of over-the-counter drugs. Lately, the Food and Drug Administration has issued advisories for patients who take these drugs for a long time. These advisories are bringing to light serious side effects linked to these drugs. Are they safe for long term use? Does someone on them need to be monitored more closely? Should they be so casually used?
If you have been on a proton pump inhibitor you may want to reconsider using it. Patients who take the medications for a long time (generally more than a year) may end up with low magnesium levels putting them at risk for seizures, irregular heartbeats, and muscle spasms. An equally disturbing warning has stated that these drugs can increase the risk for hip, wrist, and spine fractures, especially for patients who are over 50 and been on high doses for longer than a year. These concerns become more pressing if patients need to add other medications such as heart and osteoporosis medicines which may place them at a higher risk for complications of combining medicines. There is also a concern over the potential effect on a patient’s ability to absorb iron, particularly those over 40. A possible link has been pointed to proton pump inhibitors and anemia. Such concerns are perplexing if you suffer from stomach problems.
Pills that turn off the acid in your stomach will lead to many other issues; furthermore, they don’t address the root of the problem. Many of us with acid reflux, sour stomach, gas, bloating and other digestive problems have a need to understand how the stomach functions. Stomach acid digests protein. When stomach acid is turned off, protein can’t be digested well. When you eat any protein, it needs hydrochloric acid to break it down. When there isn’t enough hydrochloric acid, the protein sits in the stomach and starts to putrefy, creating acid and gases.
If you have good amounts of stomach acid, it closes the sphincter of the stomach when you eat, preventing acid up into the esophagus. It opens the lower sphincter to empty your stomach after the food has been digested. But if you don’t have enough acid, the upper sphincter doesn’t close tightly causing reflux. Protein isn’t digested, the lower sphincter stays closed, and you suffer the symptom of being overly full after eating because your stomach hasn’t emptied..
The need for good acidity effects other aspects of nutrition and body maintenance: vitamin and mineral absorption being two. Calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc, vitamins C, K, and B complex all depend on absorption partly through low stomach pH.
Low stomach pH - between 1 and 2- is at the start of a line of defense of your immune system. Good acidity kills off bacteria from a head cold or sinus infection, as well as in food. It can kill off parasites as well. Good acidity can help kill anything that might cause food poisoning.
The bacteria in your gut needs good acidity as well; these bacteria want to live in an acidic environment. When the gut is not acidic enough, it is almost a waste of time to take probiotics. Not having an acidic-enough environment doesn’t support good bacteria but will allow detrimental bacteria to survive and flourish. The digestive tract has to become acidic enough to prevent fermentation of sugars and carbohydrates. Classic signs of poorly balanced gut flora and poor acidity is gas and bloating.
The enzyme part of the digestive track is orchestrated by good stomach acid. The gall bladder doesn’t get triggered to function and the pancreas enzymes aren’t released. There is no thorough breakdown of fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
Stomach acid gets turned off from stresses such as inflammation, anemia, food intolerances, excessive exercise, mental stress, and high carbohydrate intake leading to high sugar levels. Blood sugar problems and constipation are signs of low stomach acid. Since stomach acid is so important, why not seek an alternate answer to proper acidity.
Most of us simply need supplementation of digestible hydrochloric acid sold as betaine hydrochloride. Three to six months of HCl will restore proper acidity. If the stomach is inflamed or stomach lining damaged, these must be seen to first. Great stomach herbs and herbal formulas can help but some betaine hydrochloride should be added to any herbal treatment. If you decide to take Betaine , it’s best to take it as a separate supplement 40-60 minutes after eating.
The last consideration is enzymes. Your digestive system, immune system, blood stream, liver, kidneys, spleen, and pancreas all depend on enzymes. In fact each and every cell in your body, every single metabolic function in your body is governed by enzymes. Where do enzymes come from? They are produced both internally and in the RAW foods that we eat. If you eat enzyme-rich foods and chew your food properly, the food would enter the stomach laced with digestive enzymes. These enzymes would then predigest your food for about an hour - breaking down as much as 75% of a meal. After predigestion, hydrochloric acid comes in and inactivates all the food-based enzymes but begins its own function of breaking down what’s left of the meal. What’s left is a rich concentrate sent to the small intestine. There the acid is neutralized and the pancreas reintroduces digestive enzymes. As digestion is completed, nutrients are passed through the intestinal wall and blood stream.
Processing and cooking destroys enzymes and that means that the food entering our stomachs is severely enzyme deficient. Food sits in the stomach largely undigested. The pancreas is put under a great stress to pump up large amounts of digestive enzymes. Regular supplementation of digestive enzymes takes stress off the pancreas by providing the enzymes required for digestion. You will experience even more benefits including a significant reduction in indigestion and heartburn problems, relief from gas and bloating due to substantial digestion of complex carbohydrates, improved digestion of dairy products, diminished food allergies due to more complete protein digestion and relief from ulcers. Protease a component in digestive enzymes can break down the protective coating of H. Pylori bacteria responsible for many ulcers. Using a good enzyme supplement with each and every meal results in a longer, healthier, and more vital life.
For supplies and further information consult Marie Cargill.