Frequent use of antacids is detrimental to your gut health
Frequent use of antacids is very common in current times, Gastrointestinal upset, bloating gas and burping, commonly due to multiple underlying gut issues is unfortunately being handled by frequent use of antacids.
Lets try to understand what are the benefits of normal levels of stomach acids.
- Its the first round of defence against pathogens and parasites, Antacids raise the pH and this helps promote growth of various pathogens which can go down to small intestine and leads to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
- Acidic pH helps break larger molecules into smaller molecules for body to absorb effectively.
- Enzymes secreted by pancreas and stomach lining require acidic pH to get activated, antacids causing high pH (alkaline) leads to inability of activation of these enzymes and therefore compromised digestion.
- Ironical but true, real cause of heartburn and chest pain is not stomach acid, but it is stomach acid spilling into oesophagus. lower oesophageal sphincter is sensitive to pH, as food gets into stomach and stomach secretes acids, lower pH closes the sphincter and does not allow stomach contents to go into oesophagus, however if antacids are taken pH does not become acidic in stomach and oesophageal valve never closes and stomach juices get into the Oesophagus.
- Many nutrients such as nuts, grains, fibrous vegetables, vitamin B12 etc require highly acidic environment to pull them out of their complexes to be absorbed, therefore without the stomach acids, full nutritional value of foods cannot be got.
- Low stomach acids, will lead to overgrowth of pathogenic bacterias and other pathogens and these lead to fermentation of food by pathogenic bacterias in small intestine, where fermentation should not happen, this leads to gas bloating, burping, indigestion etc.
- These undigested food and pathogenic growth will have next subtle effect which is damage to gut lining by putting digestive stress as well as pathogens damaging the lining, this leads to Leaky gut syndrome, when this happens food and bacteria can enter blood stream putting immune system on high alert, leads to various autoimmune diseases.
As a result Immune system looks for the culprit and finds these food particles and microbes in blood. Immune system sets in reaction to protect our body and this leads to multiple food allergies and intolerances.
Lets be prudent before we pop in that antacid and use probiotics instead!
Dr Kalpana Shekhawat M.D.
Functional & Metabolic Medicine Specialist