Contrary to popular belief, heartburn is actually a common symptom of not having ENOUGH stomach acid (hydrochloric acid), and not for having too much as you’ve been led to believe! According to Dr. Jonathan Wright, “Since 1976, I’ve checked literally thousands of individuals with “heartburn” and indigestion for stomach acid production using a commercially available, extremely precise, research-verified procedure. Over-acidity is almost never found, especially in those over age 35.” Instead, it’s estimated that 90% of Americans have low stomach acid. While in the short term your acid blocker may give you immediate heartburn relief, what are you doing to your digestion and the rest of your body in the long run? Heartburn meds turn off your most IMPORTANT digestive tool, leading you down the path of malnourishment, aging, and eventually disease.
“When you get past 35, 40, 45, and start to develop indigestion, it’s highly likely that the indigestion is due to a weaker stomach, not a stronger one, a stomach making less acid, less pepsin. The very word “indigestion” implies lack of digestion, not overdigestion.” – Dr. Jonathan Wright
Then why are doctors recommending acid blockers? According to Chris Kresser, “Drugs for acid reflux and GERD are cash cows for the pharmaceutical companies. More than 60 million prescriptions for GERD were filled in 2004. Americans spent $13 billion on acid stopping medications in 2006. Nexium, the most popular, brought in $5.1 billion alone – making it the second highest selling drug behind Lipitor.” 
You Need Strong Stomach Acid
Stomach acid is an incredible substance that helps keep you healthy (and youthful) by creating a highly acidic pH of 1.5-3 in your stomach. Remember when you were a kid and you could eat and digest ANYTHING? That was in large part due to your high metabolism and strong hydrochloric acid levels; a very good reason not to self-induce inadequate hydrochloric acid with the use of acid blockers. Acid production typically slows with age, poor nutrition, and a slowed metabolism, but millions around the globe are doing it on purpose with over the counter meds!
Strong stomach acid is a precursor for good health. It’s required for the absorption of important vitamins and minerals, as well as the breakdown of your proteins so that they can be properly absorbed. If you can’t actually break down and absorb your food, it can’t be USED to nourish your body, which creates a large problem, considering nutrition affects EVERY cell in your body. The health of your cells is dependent on nutrients. Cells create tissues, tissues create organs, and you are made up of a system of organs. If your digestion is inadequate, the integrity of each cell, tissue, and organ in your body will suffer, thus opening you up to a host of health problems. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…
Why are acid blockers/suppressors harmful?
- Increase cancer risk:
- “There appear to be at least two major mechanisms by which hypochlorhydria and achlorhydria elevate the risk of stomach cancer: by raising gastrin levels (hypergastrinemia), and by promoting bacterial over-growth.” -Dr. Jonathan Wright 
- “In principal, current [acid-suppressing drug] therapies might be advancing the cancer clock by converting relatively benign gastric inflammation into a more destruction, premalignant process.” Julie Parsonnet, M.D., Stanford University of Medical School 
- Increased likelihood of dementia:
- Those who take PPIs are 44% more likely to suffer from dementia, according to this study from JAMA Neurology 
- Bad breath:
- Because food doesn’t move as efficiently out of the stomach, it can decay in there, and bacteria levels can increase which can cause bad breath
- Digestive distress/bloating:
- Acid blockers set off the digestive cascade with an incorrect pH leading to no bicarbonate/enzymes/incomplete digestion in the small intestines causing intestinal problems
- Increased kidney disease risk:
- Increase risk of infection:
- Reduced stomach acid weakens the first line of defense against pathogens in the stomach
- Reduced absorption of nutrients, namely:
- Calcium (increasing hip fractures)
- “I am convinced that in a large percentage of cases, depression is the result of a neurotransmitter deficiency which is most often due to low stomach acid. In over 50 percent of cases, depression is treatable by supplying (relatively) large quantities of the essential amino acids.” -Dr. Jonathan Wright 
What to do?
First of all, consult your doctor and do not take this post as medical advice (or view our disclaimer at the end of the post). While heartburn is actually more likely caused by a DECREASE in stomach acid (not too much), this is not something your typical mainstream medicine doctor will address.
If you suffer from heartburn, you may want to try this natural remedy: try to drink less fluids with your meals (more fluids=more diluted stomach acid=higher stomach PH). Instead, add 1-2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar diluted with ¼-1/2 cup water and consume with your food. This can help to temporarily increase your stomach acid to help you digest your food more efficiently, and prevent heartburn while you work on fixing the root cause of heartburn (hint: your metabolism and nutrition).
Also remember, heartburn can be aggravated by certain foods and can be a sign that your digestive juices have been “dialed” down, often a side effect of a slowed metabolism or poor nutrition. Increasing your metabolism and your nutritional wealth can help turn your digestive juices back up!
4. Why Stomach Acid is Good for You by Jonathan Wright, MD and Lane Lenard, PhD M. Evans and Company
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