Thursday, 25 April 2013

Antacids and acid reflux!


I am taking the phrase "Run Sensible" to a higher level on this post. By "run" I mean allow your body to run sensible and I'm going to explain a very common use of a drug that has an opposite reaction to what is intended. I wrote this piece for the blog on my web site www.neiltheosteo.com but decided to include it here since I've treated a few runners and triathletes in recent months who suffer with this regurgitating problem.

There is a gaping big whole in the theory that taking antacid tablets will combat acid reflux or
esophageal reflux. When you look at the mechanism behind the compounds involved you will see that there is a contradictory affect. This means that the problem you are trying to solve is actually made worse by your actions.

So when you take an anti acid tablet the result is a neutralisation of the acid in your stomach which means the pH is raised or your stomach is becoming more alkaline. The stomach is a dark acidic hostile environment. The majority of nutrients which are broken down in the stomach are proteins. This is achieved by an enzyme called pepsinogen being activated by hydrochloric acid to become pepsin which breaks the protein into amino acids. If you don't have adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid the pepsinogen is not converted into pepsin and you will struggle to digest any amount of protein. So taking antacids will decrease protein metabolism or slow it down. Slowing protein metabolism down or prolonging it means it will be in the stomach for longer.
On reaching the stomach carbohydrates have all ready began the breakdown process, an enzyme (amylase) in your saliva has started this process. The stomachs low pH environment is like finishing school for carbohydrates. If the carbohydrates exiting the stomach have not completed the breakdown process they can not be absorbed or assimilated through the gut wall. These carbohydrates will go on to ferment in the gut. Fermenting carbohydrates in the gut will cause an explosion in bacteria, both the good and bad types. The bad arrive in the gut after successfully making it through an in-hostile stomach. All bacteria release methane gas as they feed on the fermenting carbohydrates. This will cause flatulence at the far end and a back pressure towards the stomach, which is probably still full of protein. The back pressure will push the stomach contents up towards the esophageal sphincter and its acid juices that are trying to breakdown protein will burn the esophagus which is heart burn.

The pH of the stomach is around 4, if this level increases due to a reduction in hydrochloric acid (a result of antacids) nutrient absorption will quickly decrease. The nutrients that will be affected first are amino acids and vitamin B12.
Amino acid deficiency will cause a plethora of pathological and mechanical problems. Some of these condition include high blood pressure, poor immune function or sickness, neurological disorders, hormone deficiency, mood swings and pain to name just a few.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause numerous neurological symptoms but most notably it will cause macrocytic normochromic (pernicious) anemia. Presenting as; pale skin, slow but bounding pulse, breathlessness, dizzy spells and lethargy or tiredness.

Prolonged use of these antacids will almost always cause increased sickness by bacterial infection. The most common one seem to be gastric (stomach) ulcers as a result of the helicobactor pylori bacteria taking a strong hold in the stomach.Read the small print on/in the package.

Alternative or more healthy measures that you can choose instead of antacid tablets include; taking digestive enzymes before meals to aid metabolism, taking hydrochloric acid supplements to restore ability to digest protein and empty stomach quicker, taking a course of probiotics to replace or increase good bacteria in the gut.

Osteopathic treatment aimed at increasing digestion may help too. Manual techniques to restore diaphragmatic function will be very useful at preventing the stomach contents raising into the esophagus. The esophageal sphincter is after all a piercing in the diaphragm muscle. Visceral techniques will aid mobility and motility in the gut which will aid nutrient absorption and passage of waste. Cranio-Sacral techniques can be used to aid the parasympathetic side of the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system. The parasympathetic system is also know as the "rest and digest" system and therefore these techniques will aid all aspects of digestion and will combat stress.
The cumulative affect of all this will be increased energy, better health and a vast reduction in the symptoms of reflux.

Neil
@RunSensible