Natural Cures For Dummies
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Antacids are counter-productive to a natural cures approach. Many people who experience indigestion, heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and other gastrointestinal disorders take antacids or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) — a class of medications that shut down the production of hydrochloric acid by glands that line the stomach. None of these medications is an effective long-term treatment, and most of them, if used long term, do more harm than good. Here’s why:

  • Decreased stomach acid impairs your ability to fully digest food. Undigested food enters the small intestine, setting the stage for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which causes gas, abdominal bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and fibromyalgia.

  • Poorly digested food inhibits the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Deficiencies in B vitamins increase homocysteine, which contributes to heart disease, dementia, and other chronic illnesses. Poor absorption of calcium and other minerals results in bone loss, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. PPIs have even been linked to anemia.

  • Reduced stomach acid impairs the body’s ability to keep potentially harmful bacteria, such as H. pylori, in check. H. pylori may be beneficial when balanced with other intestinal microbes, but if it overpopulates the gut, it may cause inflammation that gives rise to acid reflux, gastric ulcers, and stomach cancer.

  • Insufficient stomach acid hampers the stomach’s ability to fight foodborne pathogens, increasing the risk of food poisoning.

  • To compensate for a reduction in stomach acid, the body may produce even more acid, particularly after you stop taking the medicine. This rebound effect may worsen symptoms over the long haul.

Don’t stop taking PPIs cold turkey because the rebound effect is likely to give you the worst indigestion you’ve ever had. Wean yourself slowly off them, halving your dosage every five to seven days and then switching to a low-dose, over-the-counter alternative for several days before stopping.

Instead of taking antacids, especially PPIs, prevent indigestion naturally by taking these actions:

  • Avoid foods and substances that worsen symptoms, including caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, spicy or highly acidic foods, and any foods you’re allergic or sensitive to. Wheat and dairy are the worst offenders, so avoid these foods as you taper off your use of PPIs.

  • Avoid sweetened foods and beverages, trans fats (containing hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils), and highly processed foods.

  • Eat more vegetables and noncitrus fruits.

  • Take 75 mg of zinc carnosine twice daily — once after breakfast and again before bed.

  • Before meals, take a quality probiotic with at least 5 billion CFUs of a multistrain containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium.

  • Take the following digestive enzymes with meals:

    • Protease: 50,000 to 100,000 USP

    • Amylase: 50,000 to 100,000 USP

    • Lipase: 8,000 to 15,000 USP

  • Take 300 to 600 mg of betaine HCL and 50 to 100 mg of pepsin in the middle of a meal. Often the problem is not too much stomach acid but too little.

  • Change the way you eat:

    • Eat smaller meals more frequently and stop eating when you’re 80 percent full.

    • Chew your food to liquid before swallowing.

    • If you need to drink something during meals, drink no more than 4 ounces of water or a couple ounces of red wine. Fluids dilute stomach acid and inhibit proper digestion.

    • Before eating a meal, reduce stress by taking three slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.

    • Stop eating three hours before bedtime.

L-glutamine, aloe, and licorice are all very soothing to inflamed gut mucosa and are likely to help with indigestion.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Dr. Scott J. Banks has been in clinical practice for more than 30 years. In 2013, Banks joined an elite group Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioners. He is uniquely trained in the Functional Medicine model to identify and treat the root causes of illness, disease, and chronic disorders.

Joe Kraynak has authored and co-authored numerous books.

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