The holidays have come and gone, but the few pounds you added while enjoying the cheer are still sitting around. Are those pounds accompanied by lingering indigestion? The two are often linked. Many of us suffer from indigestion and gastric reflux, and the traditional pharmaceutical response has been to use over-the-counter antacids or even prescription medication to counter the effects of heartburn and reflux (GERDS). One class of drugs that has been prescribed to counter acid reflux is proton pump inhibitors or PPIs. Names for these drugs include:
- Related meds include: AcipHex, Dexilant, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix, Vimovo, Zegerid, and various over-the-counter versions
If you have been prescribed any of these medications, you should know these main points:
- These medications can have severe side effects include cardiovascular and kidney damage, as well as dementia. Nutrition issues are another concern because inhibiting stomach acid means food is not broken down and nutrients are not absorbed.
- Class action suits are now pending against the makers of this class of drugs.
- You can achieve better results without medications.
Despite these facts, one PPI drug, Nexium, ranked as the fourth largest-selling drug in the U.S. according to 2016 data. AstraZeneca, Nexium’s manufacturer, reaped over $2 billion in 2016, a figure which reflects a decline due to generics and other competitors. From 2006 until 2010, Nexium revenues were more or less at the $5 billion mark.
PPI profits have been more than healthy for pharmaceutical companies, but the drugs have serious drawbacks for patients.
How can you reverse heartburn and GERDS without drugs? The main action touted by drug manufacturers is the reduction of stomach acid. A whole generation of Americans was raised to believe that indigestion is caused by “excess stomach acid”. In fact, low acid content prevents food from passing into the small intestine and can create the “backup” that causes reflux. That is why it is called “indigestion”. The lack of acid means that the pyloric sphincter (valve) does not open and release your stomach contents into the small intestine, the next step in digestion.
- Reducing the carbohydrate content of your diet will remove the load on your stomach.
- Intermittent fasting will give your digestive system “time off” to heal.
- Adding acidic and probiotic foods will speed digestion.
- Supplement iodine with sea vegetables and ocean fish, or a supplement.
Taking most carbohydrates out of your diet removes the stress on your system and reduces SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) which is a contributing factor to overall poor health. Cut out or cut back on bread, grains, potatoes, and sugars. The big bonus to this is weight loss without hunger; fewer pounds will also relieve heartburn and reflux.
Confining your meals to an 8-hour window, e.g. 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., is a healthy way to counter indigestion. The technical term for this is intermittent fasting or IF. If this is difficult, start by cutting out any and all eating after dinner, and avoid eating carbohydrates at dinner. (It gets easier the more you try it.) Late-night carb-loaded snacks are the worst contributors to indigestion and will make you hungry the next morning for more carbs. Again, avoiding late-night junk is another tactic with weight loss benefits.
A salad with an unsweetened vinegar and oil dressing at the beginning of a meal sets the acid balance for good digestion. Lemon juice and olive oil are another flavor option. As noted in the above video, if you have indigestion, a spoonful of apple cider in about 1/3 of a cup of water will relieve heartburn. Homemade pickles and sauerkraut are great probiotic foods, with multiple benefits including the natural vinegar which is the product of the fermentation process.
Added iodine from seaweed is a key supplement that will boost digestion and support thyroid function. Your thyroid gland is your body’s carburetor. The thyroid regulates your metabolism and influences your weight gain and loss, and it must have iodine to function. Slow thyroid function makes you foggy-minded and physically sluggish. Wakame or hijiki seaweed easily blends with sliced or grated vegetables for tasty salads and adds flavor and a nutritional bonus that most of us need.
- Try solving your indigestion issues simply, without using medications that may harm your health.
Because we care…
* N.B.: Lowering carbohydrate intake without reducing medications that lower blood sugar will cause hypoglycemia. If you are currently taking diabetes medications to balance your carbohydrate intake, you will need to work with your doctor in order to adjust dosages.