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An Effective Nutritional Approach to Heartburn

Many patients who come to our clinic seeking care for complaints such as headaches, back pain, neck pain, joint problems and injuries are excited when they discover that our providers offer a comprehensive, non-drug approach to health which also includes diet and nutrition.

Heartburn Drugs Found to Increase Risk of Dementia

As is often the case, we are discovering once again that offering a prescription drug as a solution to health problems, in this case heartburn or acid reflux, can come with serious risks to the patient’s health. As our aging population focuses more and more on prevention, it’s no wonder patients are concerned about risk for dementia and other age related health problems. Prescription Drugs

Heartburn is a very common condition and the typical solution offered to patients are drugs such as Nexium, Prevacid, and Prilosec. These drugs are called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), and the finding of increased dementia risk associated with them is very disturbing. Past research has indicated that regular users of PPIs had a 44 percent increased risk of dementia compared with those not receiving PPI medications. A recent article in the New York Times also cited research linking heartburn drugs to the risk of early death.

Other concerns with these drugs are:

  • Increased hip and spine fractures
  • Abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea
  • Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection
  • Kidney problems

Stomach Acid is a Good Thing

The first thing to understand is that stomach acid is necessary to properly digest food and kill any unwanted bacteria and parasites you may ingest. The stomach is well protected from this acid by a mucous lining. The problem occurs when acid goes where there is no protective lining, like the esophagus. PPI drugs are intended to decrease acid production, thus protecting the esophagus, but that’s where the problem starts.

Fixing the Actual Cause of Heartburn

Interestingly, reflux can occur when we don’t make enough acid. In those instances food sits in the stomach longer in an attempt to be digested enough to be released into the small intestine. The longer it sits on the stomach, the more of an irritant it becomes and the more likely it is to reflux back. Since there is some acid, it burns as it refluxes.Eating Vegetables Fruits

Since our approach at Team Health Care Clinic is to find and fix the cause, rather than creating another problem by interfering with proper acid production and digestive function, the answer is to actually add acid when we eat. It may sound counter intuitive, but it is an incredibly effective approach and one we have had much success with.

While there are times to use a PPI drug, I believe they are over used and used for too long a period of time. The proper answer is to fix the underlying condition.

A good diet, healthy lifestyle and proper nutritional supplementation can be a very effective alternative to prescription drugs. Why put yourself at risk for dementia and other health problems associated with medications when there are simple and effective solutions that also actually can make you healthier?

Tim Bertsch, DC DABCI

Tim Bertsch, DC DABCI

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