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7 Things About Acid Reflux, Gluten and IBS You Never Knew

Updated March 25th, 2020 by Dr Richard Hagmeyer DC, CFMP to reflect the most accurate information. 

acid reflux7 Things You Never Knew About Acid Reflux, GERDS, Gluten and IBS.

Call it acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD, but having stomach acid splash back up into your esophagus is painful, frustrating and at times overwhelming.

In a recent editorial published in the journal Gastroenterology, the author remarked: Treating gastro esophageal reflux disease with profound acid inhibition will never be ideal because acid secretion is not the primary underlying defect.

What this means is that taking acid stopping pills does not fix the underlying cause or mechanism.

This is something I have been educating patient about over the last 12 years. For decades the medical establishment has been directing it’s attention at how to reduce stomach acid secretion in people suffering from IBS, heartburn and GERD, even though it’s well-known that these conditions are not caused by excess stomach acid.

Instead, the question researchers should be asking is, “what is causing the problem in the first place and what are the dietary modification that need to be made.”

In this article I want to share 7 things you may not know about IBS, GERD, Acid reflux and Gluten and how these facets are often at the underlying cause of this painful disease.

#1 Studies link gluten with acid reflux

Research shows acid reflux symptoms more commonly affect those with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten. One study found 30 percent of celiac disease patients had GERD compared to less than 5 percent of those not diagnosed with the disease. Another study found almost 40 percent of children with celiac disease suffer from esophagitis, inflammation of the esophagus and heartburn.

#2 Gluten-free diet found to relieve heartburn

Fortunately, researchers also found that a “true” gluten-free diet relieved symptoms of GERD rapidly and persistently. When I say “true” gluten free” I mean elimination of all grains and their cross reactive family members. You can learn more about about that here.

Some people have found they also need to give up grains, processed foods, or other foods to which they are intolerant (such as dairy) to completely relieve acid reflux. You can learn more about the proper testing for Gluten Sensitivity right here

#3 GERD could be autoimmune

Some research shows that stomach acid is not acidic enough to immediately damage the esophagus. Instead, acid reflux triggers an inflammatory reaction within the tissue of the esophagus, causing damage.

What does gluten have to do with this? Gluten has been shown to be very pro-inflammatory in many people, and has been linked with 55 autoimmune diseases. It’s possible acid reflux could be yet another inflammatory disorder triggered by gluten.

7 Things About Acid Reflux, Gluten and IBS You Dont Know.

#4 Antacids increase health risks

Most people relieve acid reflux by taking an antacid to neutralize stomach acid, with sales of the drug topping $10 billion annually. Not only does this fail to stop stomach acid from washing back up into the esophagus (one study showed protein-pump inhibitors actually induce acid reflux), it also impairs nutrient absorption that leads to Vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

What are the Consequences of these Deficiencies?

  1. Zinc Deficiency – leads to reduced immune function, easy bruising, lowered antioxidant status, diabetes, heart diseases and impaired or slow healing.
  2. Vitamin B12 – nerve damage, Fatigue, Anxiety, Depression, Inflammation, Elevated Homocysteine levels, increased risk for cancer, heart disease.
  3. Vitamin A – suppression of the immune system, loss of mucosal tolerance in the gut, Skin allegies, skin inflammation, gastric inflammation, lung inflammation, acid reflux, and infertility
  4. Protein Deficiency – fatigue, Hair loss, immune suppression, weight gain, poor muscle tone, blood sugar abnormalities,
  5. Iron Deficiency – Iron anemia, Fatigue, Brittle hair and nails, Poor wound healing, bruising, breathing difficulties, increased risk for viral and bacterial infections, fatigue
  6. Folate (Folic Acid) – Depression, Anxiety, fatigue, Neural-tube defects, infertility, intestinal cancer and polyps, Brain fog, cancer, heart disease, bone loss.
  7. Calcium Deficiency – bone loss, hormone disruption, blood clotting problems, muscle cramping, high blood pressure, gum disease…

#5 Antacids may increase food poisoning risk

Stomach acid is vital to the absorption of minerals and vitamins, and protects the stomach from bacteria, fungus, and infection. Chronic use of antacids has been linked to increased risk for bacterial infections, candida (yeast) overgrowth, and food poisoning.

#6 Antacids may increase osteoporosis risk

Chronic antacid use also impairs absorption of minerals, including calcium, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

#7 Proper testing for gluten intolerance, Leaky Gut and nutritional deficiencies is vital.

With one in five people now believed to be suffering from gluten sensitivity, it’s important to know whether you are too, and whether undiagnosed gluten intolerance is contributing to your heartburn. Don’t think for a minute that taking your antacids is fixing the problem. Left uncorrected you will have more serious health problem to contend with.

PD (peptic disease) is not uncommon in the presentation of CD (celiac disease). It is more likely to be found in the second decade of life. CD should be included in the differential diagnosis of patients with non-HP(H pylori) PD and we suggest routine CD serology and small bowel biopsy in patients with unexplained PD.

The authors of this study recommend that all patients with non infectious peptic disease be screened for celiac disease.

Source: Scand J Gastroenterol. 2009;44(12):1424-8.

Have Questions? Wondering how this might be affecting your Health? Contact us? Every week Dr Hagmeyer sets aside a handful of free 15 minute phone consults for perspective patients. After filling out a short health questionnaire with your symptoms, concerns, goals we will email you a link if we feel you are good fit. Get started here 

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