Acid blockers or proton inhibitors range from the mild antacids, which neutralize stomach acid, to the powerful proton pump inhibitors that prevent stomach cells from producing stomach acid. We know them as the little purple pill, Nexium®, Pepcid®, Aciphex®, Protonix®, or as calcium supplements, for example, Tums®.

What Is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux is plain old indigestion. Because of the pricey medicines advertised to patients, acid indigestion was give a new name: acid reflux.

What Is the Cause of Acid Reflux?

There are many causes of indigestion, the main ones being poor diet, structural problems, obesity, hypochlorohydria (inadequate stomach acid), processed foods, consumption of vegetable oils, specifically foods fried in rancid vegetable oils that have been hydrogenated (cottonseed, soybean, corn, Crisco, and other vegetable shortenings), consumption of sugar, excess alcohol intake, smoking, loss of digestive enzymes, inadequate chewing, and large meals.

How Do These Factors Cause Hyperacidity?

Let’s say we just consumed a huge processed meal such as French fries, an extra large soda, and two hot dogs on white buns. The arrival of this large bolus in the stomach contains foreign chemicals and preservatives that the stomach does not recognize. Let’s add to that insufficient chewing (digestion of foods starts in the mouth by proper chewing and salivary enzymes) and insufficient enzymes (which anyone eating the standard American diet has), which will cause this mass to lie in the stomach, giving rise to fermentation and bacterial action. Fermentation expands and gives rise to gas and distension. As these gases rise, they are trapped in the esophagus, causing distension and mimicking chest pain. This pull and tension of the overloaded stomach insults the gastroesophageal valve to the point where it is pulled open. This overstretched valve allows stomach acid and its contents, along with the gases, up into the esophagus. The esophagus, unlike the stomach, does not contain acid-secreting cells, and thus it is very sensitive to this acid. This action causes a burning sensation in the esophagus, which can mimic signs of a heart attack.

Consequences and Side Effects Associated with Use of Acid Blockers

Long-term health complications related to acid blockers are many and very severe. They include nutrient deficiencies, increased risk of stomach cancer, low immune function, poor digestion of proteins, osteoporosis, heart disease, depression, pernicious anemia, poor eye sight, paralysis, severe neurological problems, and dementia, to name a few. We will briefly discuss some of the consequences of these medications.

Low Immunity

Immune cells are made of immunoglobulins, which are made up of protein from the food we eat. Failure of protein digestion results in inadequate protein to produce a strong immune system. A poor immune response can lead to any health problem, from a simple cold to cancer and anything in between.

Osteoporosis

Calcium plays a major role in bone remodeling and is dependent on the presence of stomach acid for absorption. Taking Tums for calcium supplementation is absurd. Tums is nothing but calcium carbonate (lime stone/dirt), chalk that neutralizes stomach acid. If the acid is neutralized, how is the calcium absorbed? It’s not.

Arthritis

Poor protein absorption causes the body to steal protein from joint surfaces, with the end result being arthritis. Glycoaminoglycans found in cartilage are composed of proteins. Thus no protein digestion or absorption and no glycoaminoglycans results in arthritis.

Pernicious Anemia

This is a very prevalent condition in the elderly. Active B12 known as methylcobalamin is the key nutrient to treat dementia. B12 absorption is dependent on intrinsic factor. What is intrinsic factor? Intrinsic factor is a protein made by the parietal cells in the stomach, the same cells that secrete stomach acid and the same cells destroyed by acid blockers. B12 and several other vitamins are protein-dependent and protein bound. In other words, once this nutrient is ingested, it does not travel by itself in the body, but it is escorted by protein. So if you don’t digest protein because it is putrefying in your gut because you are blocking stomach acid, how can B12 absorption take place? B12 deficiency is a very serious problem because it can mimic dementia. B12 deficiencies also cause irreversible paralysis and neurological disorders. An important point to remember is that B12 is only found in animal products. There is no such thing as B12 from plant foods. Those are B12 analogs, which only increase the need for more B12.

Heart Disease

Dr. Kilmer McCully, a pathologist from Harvard, first identified homocysteine in 1969. Unfortunately, Dr. McCully got kicked out of Harvard for suggesting that homocysteine causes heart disease and not cholesterol. Dr. McCully lost all his funding, and it took him thirty years to get his name back. Just goes to show how politically motivated science is, and how in the interim people suffer from improper diagnosis and dangerous treatments. So what is homocysteine? It is a byproduct of methionine. Problems occur when there is a deficiency of B12, B6, folic acid, betaine, and stomach acid.

Folic acid, like B12, is also protein bound and requires protein transport. In a stomach with no acid, folic acid suffers the same fate as B12. Folic acid deficiencies cause neural tube defects,2 heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease due to elevated homocysteine levels.

Poor Vision

Lack of stomach acid inhibits absorption of protein. The eyes rely heavily on protein for proper function. Thus one of the first organs to respond to lack of protein are the eyes, and thus acid blockers are directly related to poor vision and blindness.

Acid Rebound

Continued use of acid blockers leads to a rebound effect of making excess acid when medication is discontinued.
Side Effects of These Drugs

Owing to their cholinergic effects, some of these medications interfere with nerve function. This can lead to EKG abnormalities, potentially fatal ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation, nausea, constipation, anxiety, joint pain, hypertension, blood clots, impotence, headaches, and abdominal pain, to name a few.

Conclusion

A clean diet, free of processed foods and rancid fats, is a must. Eating fast and inadequate chewing must be addressed. Reducing excess weight will help. I always recommend digestive enzymes for anyone eating the typical diet. Vital enzymes are only found in raw or fermented foods. The average person rarely consumes fermented cultured vegetables or raw dairy, which enhance digestion and absorption of nutrients. So every time we eat, we use up precious enzymes to digest food. That is why constant eating/grazing and chewing gum are a waste of precious enzymes. Enzymes have thousands of functions, including searching for and destroying cancer cells that can only be detected by pancreatic enzymes.

Health starts in the digestive tract, and death starts in the colon. Our basis for eating food is for it to give us energy to support life. The inability to digest our food and assimilate its nutrients is a sure prescription for many diseases. These Western conditions are preventable. According to the National Academy of Science, 95 percent of all disease is caused by diet, the environment, and lifestyle. Only 5 percent can be attributed to our genes. In essence, we cannot blame our parents or grandparents for certain conditions. This is a way of shunning responsibility for our health. Our health is in our hands. Don’t wait for the government or your doctor to take care of your health, and don’t wait for HMOs to take care of you once you are sick. There is no day but today to take charge of your health and restore your vitality so that you may live a productive, healthy, and long life.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health”, visit http://selfgrowth.com/healthbook3.html

Author's Bio: 

Juliana Mazzeo, MS, CDN (http://www.nymedicalnutrition.com), holds a BA in psychology and an advanced MS in clinical nutrition. She has maintained both a private practice and worked in the field of cardiovascular medicine with prominent local physicians. She is a guest speaker and lectures in many settings. Juliana is published in the American College of Nutrition.