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What's going on with my gut? Part 2: Acid reflux and heartburn

Are you one of millions of people who suffer from acid reflux, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and/or heartburn? If yes, this blog is a must read for you.

One of the most common causes of impaired digestive function as we age is the reduction in the amount of hydrochloric acid produced by the stomach. Yet millions of people are being put on medications called Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), which are designed to reduce acidity in the stomach. PPIs (such as Nexium, Omeprazole, Prevacid and Prilosec) are amongst one of the most widely prescribed drugs today, presumed safe yet with more and more scientific research exposing their potentially harmful effects.

Stomach acid plays a vital role in numerous digestive processes and without it our digestive health, and our health in general, suffers. Heartburn occurs when stomach acid is pushed up from the stomach into the oesophagus. To prevent this occuring, we have a valve that separates the oesophagus from the stomach (LES valve). Any amount of acid, no matter how little, in the oesophagus is going to cause a problem.

The important question to ask therefore is what is causing the LES valve to malfunction? The valve is in fact regulated by stomach acid and can therefore malfunction when acid production is blocked. When, for example, we consume certain aggresive foods, such as coffee, sugar, alcohol, onions etc, the weakened LES valve allows contents of the stomach to leak back into the oesophagus, causing heartburn.

More and more scientific evidence is linking lack of stomach acid to the following issues and symptoms:1

  • Bloating, belching and flatulence immediately after meals

  • Undigested food in stools

  • Heartburn, often thought to be caused by too much stomach acid

  • Indigestion, diarrhoea, constipation

  • Rectal itching

  • Acne

  • Chronic candida

  • H. Pylori

  • Low energy

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency

  • SIBO - bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine. Without stomach acid, which kills ingested pathogens, you are going to be more prone to bacteria (and parasites) taking up residence inside your digestive tract

  • Hair loss in women

  • Dry skin

  • Multiple food allergies

  • Iron deficiency

  • Various autoimmune diseases

  • Osteoporosis

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