Antacids are a multi-million-dollar business. It is so easy to get your hand on them since they are available over-the-counter. It also a common notion that mild digestive symptoms like hyperacidity, belching, or gas can be easily solved by popping a tablet. But have you ever seen one of these drugs resolve the problem? An antacid may reduce the symptoms some of the time, but they could actually make your gallbladder problem worse. The gallbladder secretes bile in response to the acidity of the food bolus. It helps to make that food mixture more alkaline.
One research study on healthy subjects found that after coming off 8 weeks of proton pump inhibitors, those previously healthy people developed acid symptoms! And although they often stop the symptoms, they also stop digestion. Worse yet, one of the contributing factors to a good functioning gallbladder is having enough acid in the stomach. So if you’re an antacid popper, you’re not helping your gallbladder problem.
When people complain of heartburn or “acid indigestion” they assume that their stomach has too much acid. So they take an antacid. They often do have too much acid, but not the kind they think. As people get older, they tend to make less hydrochloric acid (HCl) and if one eats under stress, has a poor diet, or eats too much, this can decrease the HCl secretion as well. (That includes children, not just adults).
So what happens is that we eat a meal (usually on the run), and not enough acid or enzymes are secreted to digest the meal. When we eat under stress the digestive secretions shut down – like while driving, working, having an unpleasant conversation at the meal, etc. Then the food sits in the warm stomach undigested and begins to ferment and putrefy. This is the acid that is causing the problem. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Prevacid do the same thing. They decrease acid secretion and impair proper digestion.
What is needed here is to provide the body with the acid that it is not making itself. In other words, you don’t want to stop the acid with antacids, you want to add acid to aid or continue digestion to relieve the discomfort. Sound strange? Try it. 90% of heartburn/indigestion problems can be taken care of by this method. And the problem gets better, not worse. There really can be an end to it! Always look past treating only the symptoms. Look for the root of the problem.
Many times simply removing gluten from the diet can improve the symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux. Gluten can cause inflammation in the stomach and esophagus, irritating the lining. Try removing gluten and other possible allergens such as dairy for three weeks. If you’re following a gallbladder diet, both of those have already been removed.
In addition, take 1 capsule of Betaine HCl and 1-2 Digestive Enzymes with each meal. This will provide both the acid and the enzymes needed for more complete digestion and will support the gallbladder function. Zinc-Carnosine can also do wonders to improve digestion, promote healthy mucosal lining, protect the GI system from PPIs and NSAIDs among many other benefits.