Learn how antacids threaten gut health

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(NaturalHealth365) problem with pillsFor the estimated 24 million plus Americans that pop a daily antacid, this acid-blocking action could spell big trouble for gut microbiome. Just released, a study in the journal Microbiome found that persons regularly ingesting proton pump inhibiting medications had a far less diverse gut microbiome than their antacid-free peers.

The lack of diversity in beneficial bacteria put study participants at much greater risk for developing infections such as c. difficile and pneumonia.

The study went on to confirm what we already know – that decreased gut diversity also leads to key vitamin deficiencies such as vitamin B12 and magnesium while increasing risk of osteoporosis-related bone fracture. With people using antacids into their senior years, it should come as no surprise that a fracture related to falling is so common.

How does the epigenetic landscape influence gut health?

A healthy digestive system is shaped by what we expose ourselves to – food, water, drink, pollution, pharmaceuticals and nutritional supplements all influence how diverse our gut microbiome will be and therefore our epigenetic landscape. For persons choosing to use proton pump inhibitors to block acid rather than adjusting the diet, you’ll run the risk of potential food allergies and pervasive environmental stress – which will increase the risk for over-colonization within the small intestine of unfavorable bacteria.

Antacids, too much gluten and gliadin proteins are not a favorable combination for many people suffering with digestive-related issues.

If you are experiencing a sensitivity to gluten unknowingly, exposing the cilia in your small intestine to these often inflammation-causing proteins could be contributing to not only your altered digestive functioning, but also compromised gut microbiome health and frontline immunity.

Because a healthy digestive system relies on a robust mucosal lining to maintain optimized immunity, inflammation causing proteins can cause tissue permeability – aka ‘leaky gut.’ If the next step is prescription of an antacid with an already compromised mucosal lining, the potential to develop an infection only increases when tissue permeability exists.

Note: If you’ve proposed being tested for leaky gut to your healthcare provider and they aren’t familiar, either ask for a “tissue permeability test” or find an integrative medical professional with experience in proper testing procedures.

Good scientific research looks promising in the years ahead

The International Human Microbiome Project aims to research the positive influence diet and probiotic therapy exert on improving overall gut health and its implications on everyday human wellness. The goal of the project is to shift treatment focus for all practitioners from symptomatic treatment to the ability of practitioners to discern individual microbiological factors to avoid the need for antacid or any other pharmaceutical substance.

Something we should never forget is that food matters.

Plus, as a reminder during the busy holiday time of year and everyday life, slow down – how we eat matters for gut health. To dramatically improve digestion and overall wellbeing, consider the importance of creating a relaxing space for you and your family to enjoy mealtimes. For example, take a few deep breaths before eating your first bite of food to shift your nervous system away from sympathetic mode to a more peaceful parasympathetic state.

Mindful eating and thoroughly chewing every bite of food will go a long way toward improving your health. Enjoy the holidays!

About the author: Christine M. Dionese L.Ac, MSTOM is an integrative health expert, medical journalist and food writer. She’s dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health. Christine practices, writes and speaks on environmental functional medicine, personalized medicine and epigenetics, food science and sustainable living.


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  • Paul Johnson

    The entire concept behind the use of antacids is wrong. It is a fact that close to 80% of people who suffer from heartburn have too little hydrochloric acid and enzymes in the stomach.

    Antacids make a bad condition worst. This means the small amount of stomach acid is being diminished by the antacid.

  • Danny Stein

    It is a known fact that certain foods and nutrients are dependent on stomach acid for their digestion. Calcium depends on stomach acid in order to be absorbed. Without adequate stomach acid, you will not be able to absorb calcium very well.

    Some of the most critical B vitamins such as folic acid, B12 and B4 are also dependent on an acid medium in the stomach for absorption.

    When seniors are given antacid drugs they will be more prone to develop heart disease, Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis.

  • Lilly Edwards

    Antacids make urine less acid, which makes it a breading ground for bacterial. There is a limited amount of research, but it shows that antacids makes urine more alkaline. An alkaline urine causes cystitis, witch is one of the reasons cranberry juice is recommended for bladder infections-it causes urine to become more acid.

  • Paula T

    Antacids and other drugs, which reduce stomach acid may worsen mold and yeast conditions by creating a deficiency of stomach acid. Think Candida and you may not want to use antacids at all.

  • Janet Paulson

    The main causes for heartburn include: stress especially at meal time, poor nutrition, too little omega-3 fatty acids, a zinc deficiency, a lack of calcium and magnesium, overeating, and eating too fast. Antacids can’t help, only lifetime changes can bring real improvement;