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Kelowna, BC

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Rutland Physical Therapy is a Kelowna Physiotherapy, Osteopathy & Manual Therapy Clinic.

One Osteoporosis Risk Factor You Are Never Warned About

Have you ever heard that antacids can actually CAUSE osteoporosis?

While most medical professionals are promoting antacids like tums as a source of calcium for building your bones, this newsletter will explain to you why ALL antacids are actually “breaking your bones”.

I will also share valuable information on the difference between heartburn and acid reflux and GERD, what causes them, how to eliminate them, and how to improve digestion naturally.

You Need Your Stomach Acid

Stomach acid is necessary to digest protein and food, activate digestive enzymes in your small intestine, keep the bacteria from growing in your small intestine, and help you absorb important nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B12.

When you suppress the amount of acid in your stomach, you are increasing your risk for

  • osteoporosis
  • bone fractures
  • iron deficiency anemia
  • pneumonia
  • vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to depression, anemia, fatigue, nerve damage, and even dementia, especially in the elderly
  • food poisoning
  • irritable bowel syndrome

Don’t Mess With Mother Nature

Mother Nature makes your stomach acid for a reason. Stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) makes the calcium (all minerals actually) soluble so that it can be absorbed in your intestines.  If your stomach produces too little stomach acid (hydrochloric acid), or your stomach acid is blocked by antacids, then calcium (all minerals) from food or supplements cannot be absorbed.

Antacids inhibit the absorption of calcium regardless of the brand, whether prescription or over the counter.

How Things Work

You have two stomach valves where food enters and exits, the IN valve (lower esophageal sphincter also known as the LES) and the OUT valve (pyloric sphincter). When you swallow food, it passes through the IN valve and enters the stomach where stomach acid is released along with the powerful digestive enzyme pepsin to break down proteins and inhibit bacterial growth. The food is churned in the stomach with the acid and enzymes until it reaches a low enough pH that it activates the OUT valve to continue the digestive process.

In normal digestion, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens to allow food to pass into the stomach and closes to prevent food and acidic stomach juices from flowing back into the esophagus. But if the LES is weak or relaxes inappropriately, the stomach’s contents can flow back up into the esophagus causing the sensation of heartburn but it is actually acid reflux.  This condition is referred to as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Is Heartburn the Same Thing as GERD?

Medical websites make it very complicated to understand.  There are references to heartburn, acid reflux and GERD.

So let me unravel the mystery for you.

Heartburn is also called acid indigestion and usually feels like a burning chest pain beginning behind the breastbone and moving upward to the neck and throat. It may feel like food is coming back into your mouth and it may give you an acid or bitter taste. The burning, pressure, or pain of heartburn can last as long as 2 hours and is often worse after eating.

Heartburn, acid reflux and GERD are the same because each one is caused by stomach acid that has gotten past the LES into the esophagus and is causing a burning sensation.

The Burning Is Not In Your Stomach

If you will notice, I keep referring to acid burning in the esophagus and not in the stomach.  Most people think that heartburn is a burning in their stomach.  But, in order to feel a burning sensation in your stomach, you would have to have problems with your stomach lining such as an ulcer.

This is because your stomach is naturally protected from stomach acid by mucous.  If you did not have this coating, then every time you ate, you would experience a burning in your stomach.

Your esophagus on the other hand, is NOT protected by this mucous so what most people call “heartburn” is actually the splashing up of hydrochloric acid (HCL) into the esophagus.

Symptoms of acid reflux/heartburn and GERD include:

  • Burning pain in your chest
  • Irritation in your throat
  • Acid taste in your mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Laryngitis
  • Chronic cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Nausea
  • Belching

If The Burning IS In Your Stomach

The 3 most probable causes of an actual burning sensation in your stomach.

  1. Ulcers
  2. Gastritis
  3. Stomach cancer

The symptoms of gastritis and ulcers are very similar. Both can cause a dull ache or burning pain in the upper abdomen. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and belching or bloating.

A Peptic Ulcer is an open sore in the lining of the stomach or duodenum (upper intestine) and gastritis is an irritation or inflammation of the stomach lining.

Both ulcers and gastritis are most commonly caused by overuse of alcohol or anti-inflammatory medications (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and prednisone) and H pylori infection.

You Want to Eliminate Acid Reflux/GERD

If a person experiences acid reflux on a regular basis, the acids will irritate the esophagus which can advance to scarring, ulceration, inflammation and hemorrhaging. It may even lead to esophageal cancer.

This is why you don’t want acid reflux and why your doctor prescribes an antacid.

But, in most cases, antacids are the wrong approach.  You need to get to the root of the problem, not put a band aid on it.

Brenda Eastwood, RNCP
Author and Women’s Health Specialist

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