A recent study announced that certain medications treating acid reflux are safe for pregnant women during first trimester and show no evidence of causing birth defects.(1)
During pregnancy, many women who rarely experienced heartburn find themselves suffering from bouts of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). If anyone, pregnant women included, goes to a Western medical doctor with this complaint, it’s likely that person will receive a prescription for a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) called omeprazole, under the name of Prilosec. PPIs lower stomach acid. Tagamet and Zantac are other commonly prescribed medications.
Because the stomach is naturally and necessarily highly acidic, when any amount of stomach acid reaches the esophagus, it causes damage. Carrying too much abdominal weight has been understood as one of the main reasons why the valve between the esophagus and stomach may not operate correctly.
Another reason, gaining in popularity, is that the bacteria, H. pylori, which actually inhibits stomach acid secretion, causes the valve to malfunction. This is because an overgrowth of H. pylori creates intra-abdominal pressure - rather than or in addition to the presumed excess abdominal weight.
An overgrowth of H. pylori will also inhibit carbohydrates from being properly digested. Stomach acid is necessary to activate digestive enzymes. Without proper acidity, enzymes remain inactive, and food goes undigested. This leads to fermentation and further adds to bacterial overgrowth.(2)
Medications, such a Tagamet and Zantac, raise the pH of the stomach, making it more alkaline. Prilosec and other PPIs reduce stomach acid secretion by 90%.
Because the stomach is one of our body’s first lines of defense against bacteria, some believe taking medications to lower stomach acidity actually invites pathogenic bacteria further into our bodies. Originally, medications to lower stomach acid were intended for short-term use, about six weeks. Some people take prescription anti-acid medication for years.
Inhibiting gastric secretions, then, does two things: it allows bacterial over-growth and also opens the body up to exterior pathogenic bacteria. Prescription medication provides temporary relief. Ultimately, however, does it heal the root of the problem? Or does it potentially lend itself more to the problem than to the solution?
While there will be more research available in the coming years, it is always recommended to discuss any possible concerns you have with your doctor.
Luckily, there are choices you can make in your day-to-day life that will heal your digestion and may help resolve the root of acid reflux in pregnancy and otherwise.
If you're sick of struggling with heartburn in your pregnancy, the simple solution can be found in taking digestive enzymes to lower your stomach acidity and also give you and your baby the vital nutrients that you need!
- Reducing or even eliminating sugars and carbohydrates will reduce pathogenic bacterial overgrowth.
Carbohydrates and sugars actually feed bacteria. Take away bacterial food, and there will be less opportunity for these pathogenic microorganisms to proliferate.
- Taking enzymes, such as Body Ecology Assist SI and an HCL supplement like Body Ecology Assist Protein and Dairy, will help your body break down nutrients so that you can absorb them.
Remember, the low stomach acidity caused either by H. pylori overgrowth and/or an anti-acid medication, will inhibit food from being properly digested. It is important to restore the environment of your stomach and safely increase acidity to a functional level.
- Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and probiotic beverages, such as coconut water kefir provide your body with good bacteria. These beneficial microbes compete with pathogenic bacteria and have been shown to lower infection.As an added bonus, good bacteria also work with the immune cells, boosting your immune system.
Whether or not a study shows PPIs to be safe during pregnancy, based on other information regarding what stomach acid reducing medications actually do in the body, it seems wise to explore other alternatives to alleviate acid reflux. Boosting the immune system during pregnancy and truly correcting the digestive process is beneficial for both the mother and her baby!
WHAT TO REMEMBER MOST ABOUT THIS ARTICLE:
Gastroesophageal reflux, also called GERD, is commonly linked to excess abdominal weight and can become quite common during pregnancy. However, another main cause of this condition is bacteria that inhibit stomach acid secretion, which can cause the valve between the stomach and the esophagus to malfunction. Proper stomach acid levels are vital to activate your digestive enzymes, and without necessary stomach acidity, you will not receive the essential nutrients you need from your food. Still, many medications intended to treat this condition actually reduce stomach acid by up to 90%, leaving you further at risk for pathogenic bacteria in your body. To see the best results in treating acid reflux, pregnant or otherwise, you can reduce sugars and carbohydrates in your diet that cause bacterial overgrowth, take helpful Body Ecology digestive enzymes to aid in digestion, and integrate more fermented foods into your diet to boost your immunity and reduce your risk for infection!
- Body Ecology Assist SI
- Body Ecology Assist DP
- Probiotic beverages
- Coconut water kefir
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
- Biggs, Wendy S. “Proton-Pump Inhibitors Safe During Early Pregnancy.” Journal Watch Women’s Health. Dec. 02: 2010. http://womens-health.jwatch.org/cgi/content/full/2010/1202/1?q=featured_wh
- Brownstein, David. Drugs That Don’t Work And Natural Therapies That Do. West Bloomfield: Medical Alternative Press. 1998.
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