Throw Away the Tums! Healthy Alternatives to Antacids
Heartburn? Upset stomach? The answer to these ailments is all to often popping an antacid such as Tums. And why not? they are just over the counter meds that might even give you a dose of calcium along with it. In fact, more and more often, I’m seeing the recommendation to take Tums with calcium as a supplement with the added “stomach soothing” benefit. Or, for those that have ongoing heartburn, a class of drugs known as “proton pump inhibitors” (PPI’s) such as Prilosec, are recommended for relief. These drugs are meant for short-term use (though in my opinion, are far over-prescribed), but end up being used long-term. This post is aimed to explain the downside to taking antacids and offer some dietary strategies to provide you with some relief with the big take-away being, get to the root of your heartburn for long term relief and leave the meds at the pharmacy.
The burning sensation, or “flame” that you feel in your stomach, chest, or traveling up your throat is heartburn and it can be caused by a number of different things. Often times it is experienced after eating spicy foods, drinking coffee, or eating fried foods. It is aggravated by stress and constipation and often the root of the problem is food sensitivities and/or (believe it or not) not producing enough acid, a condition called “hypochlorhydria”. The acid in your stomach is called hydrochloric acid (HCL) and it is critical for digestion and for killing pathogens that make us sick. The production of HCL signals a whole chain of digestive processes. Too little, such in cases of hypochlorhydria, and you risk not digesting properly (feeling extra full, constipated, not fully breaking down food to get the nutrition) and becoming ill. Specifically, HCL enhances the absorption of iron, zinc, copper, folic acid, B-vitamins, calcium and more. Did you note the calcium in there? Yes, so that calcium you are getting with the Tums that is reducing your stomach acid probably isn’t absorbing so well…
Here are some signs that make you think you might not be producing enough stomach acid:
So what should you do?
Before you head for the Tums, try these simply dietary strategies. And definitely get to a nutritionist that specializes in food sensitivities, digestive disorders and all things GI to help sort out what is going on beneath it all. Reflux and indigestion will return if you don’t get to the underlying the problem. Again, and in my experience, acid reflux is often related to food sensitivities.
*Note: Aloe Vera can interact with some medications and should not be taken by most children, pregnant or breastfeeding women. Discuss use with a healthcare professional.
There is a heck of a lot more you can (and should) do for long term relief -and to prevent damage to your digestive system. Make an appointment with me and we’ll figure it out together!