Or maybe you remember…
“I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!”
Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz, Oh What a Relief It Is!
And certainly the most recent push for the “Little Purple Pill.” What are we talking about? We are talking about the drug classes known as acid blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These types of drugs, many of which are available over-the-counter, have been some of the highest selling medications in recent years. The purpose of these medications is to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach by either neutralizing it (antacids) or shutting down its production (PPIs). If you suffer from a peptic or duodenal ulcer, you may need these medications to provide temporary protection as you heal. Others may use these medications after eating certain foods (or too much food) for relief from indigestion or for reﬂux. But since when do we need a pill so we can eat?? What actually happens when you take these medications? And why are these prescriptions considered some of the worst Rx robbers??
It begins when stomach acid, which is vital to digestion, is neutralized or nearly eliminated. As a result, digestion is disrupted- food is not broken down properly and thus nutrients are not absorbed, leaving you nutritionally depleted. These medications can prohibit absorption of all nutrients that you would normally get from your food! You may be choosing healthier options in your diet but your body can’t utilize them and as a result, your body is being robbed of EVERYTHING! Simply put: even slight changes in acidity affect the intricate balance of digestion, a choreographed dance that begins with your ﬁrst bite of food.
But why is our society ‘hooked’ on these medications? Many people take them to relieve the discomfort that may happen when stomach acid moves up into the esophagus– a phenomenon known as GERD (gastro-esophageal reﬂux disease). The stomach is, by design, capable of handling lots of acid. The esophagus, on the other hand, has a more delicate cell lining and when that acid moves into your esophagus…ouch! Keep in mind that these chemicals only take the ‘hurt’ away by reducing the acidity, the food is still coming back up! Most of the time your body naturally prevents such movement with the help of a small, circular muscle known as a sphincter muscle that closes tightly after you swallow. Certain foods such as peppermint, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, as well as nicotine can cause that sphincter muscle to relax. Eating too many processed foods, sugar and artiﬁcial sugars can also contribute to the relaxation…and the result? Stomach acid can back up into the esophagus causing GERD. Could your food be a ROOT CAUSE for your reﬂux?? What are your triggers? Hmmmmm…
Initially these medications such as Prilosec (omeprazole) and Nexium were meant to be taken for only four to six weeks because they are so strong. There is a place for these drugs. If you suffer from an ulcer the PPIs are meant to temporarily stop production of acid (and thus the pain and discomfort) while you heal. But patients have been on them for YEARS! That’s years of nutrient depletions! Here’s another frightening fact: the pharmaceutical industry has now developed an infant strength of Prilosec (called First Omeprazole) to combat infant reﬂux! So we are compromising our children’s growth and development without giving it a second thought! And as we’ve noticed with other prescriptions, the longer you’re on a medication, the more nutrients you are depleting, and the greater the likelihood of other disease states developing, and before you know it… additional prescriptions will follow. Check out our FLOW CHART to see what we’re talking about…And consider this: many of your current prescriptions may rely on that acidic environment to be absorbed- talk about adding insult to injury!
Nature also created another beneﬁt of stomach acid in addition to aiding in digesting our foods; it ﬁghts off invading bacteria and viruses as a ﬁrst line of defense. Changing the acidic environment in our gut leaves our body defenseless against a common entryway for unwanted bacteria and viruses. Two of the more serious bacteria are H.pylori and Clostridium difﬁcile (aka C.dif). As a result, you may be more susceptible to infections in your lungs and your gut! “I see more prescriptions in your future”…..
Can we ﬁx it? Yes! Have a conversation with your prescriber about how you can gradually eliminate these medications. But while you are taking them it’s important to take on an empty stomach. In pharmacy terms “empty stomach” means “thirty minutes before a meal OR two hours after.” What can you take as a supplement in the meantime? Your quality multivitamin is a ﬁrst step…as well as an excellent probiotic to repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria. The ultimate goal? Acid blockers and PPIs will be set aside and used rarely so the digestive process can proceed as nature intended. 🙂
We will delve deeper into gut health and digestion in a future post but for now let’s be kind to our stomach and give it the environment to properly digest and absorb nutrients for better health! Because health is wealth and remember we give Two Hoots about Health!
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