Acid Indigestion and Acid Reflux – What You Should Know

Posted on August 24, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Reflecting back to my childhood, I can’t remember not having a problem with indigestion or acid reflux. I constantly took over the counter acid neutralizing pills and/or liquids of various types. Then along came the acid blocking prescription drugs that I thought were so miraculous at solving my acid problem and hence my indigestion and acid reflux issue. Also on looking back on my past I recall suffering, on multiple occasions, from bouts of food poisoning and numerous other gastro-intestinal upsetting disorders.

Today there are regular media reports on the dangerous bacteria on our foods. Some people eat the food and get seriously ill, like I used to, while others may become mildly sick and others are not bothered at all. The acid we neutralize or suppress in our stomach is hydrochloric acid or HCl. One of the functions of the HCl in our stomach is to kill the bacteria that are in or on our food. A healthy HCl level kills many of the bacteria that can cause GI distress. For this to happen, the optimal pH for the stomach is between 1.5 and 2.0.

Is it possible that I was so often afflicted by bacterial infections of my G.I. tract because I used acid neutralizing and acid blocking medications? Does our food have more bacteria on it or are people today taking more acid suppressing medications thus making themselves prone to G.I. bacterial infections?

Optimal stomach HCl or pH level is also required to activate several digestive functions involved with protein, carbohydrate and fat digestion. We know that when HCl levels are not optimal, digestion and hence absorption of nutrients is impaired.

Studies indicate that acid blocking medications may interfere with bone metabolism and remodeling. This can be significant when you realize that our bones need to be under constant remodeling with our entire skeleton replacing itself every 7 to 10 years. This type of remodeling requires proper nutrient absorption. A University of Pennsylvania study reports a 44% increase in hip fractures with people taking certain acid blocking medications for more than one year. Was bone metabolism and remodeling being affected by the drugs? It is of interest to note that the manufacturers of acid suppressing drugs originally only suggested their use for 16 weeks to allow the tissues to repair. Were those drugs ever intended for lifelong use?

Most people taking acid blocking drugs do not understand the possible negative effects. I know, I never did when I was using them. However today I understand that the long term benefits of healing the digestive system and eventually getting off the acid blocking drugs is worth the effort. At a clinical level I have found that acid reflux issues are almost always addressed by supporting digestive dysfunctions rather than by neutralizing the very important HCl.

Jim Harris is a naturopath and nutritional consultant with an online practice at the Art of Wellness Center.

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Telephone: 760-778-5600


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