Americans spend nearly $13 billion a year on both prescription and over-the-counter versions of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). From esomeprazole (Nexium) to lansoprazole (Prevacid), these PPIs are often used to treat chronic acid reflux.
In fact, researchers at Stanford have found that these drugs don’t simply turn off acid pumps in the stomach.
They also block the production of acid in every cell in our bodies, an effect that impairs the body’s ability to rid itself of damaged proteins.
This can result in side effects ranging from higher risks for dementia, to increased likelihood of kidney disease and heart attacks.
In fact, past research has found that 40% to 80% of people should not receive a PPI prescription.
With this wide range of negative side effects, it’s important for patients to consider other treatment options–specifically dietary intervention and other natural methods of healing.
A recent study published in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery found that when comparing outcomes between a group that took PPIs and a group that consumed a Mediterranean diet with alkaline water, the latter group had a greater reduction in acid reflux symptoms.
In the study, researchers compared 85 people with acid reflux who were treated with PPIs and 99 people with acid reflux who were told to switch to a Mediterranean diet and start drinking alkaline water, which can neutralize excess acid.
To keep results consistent and clear, all of the people in the study were told to avoid reflux triggers, such as coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, greasy and fatty foods, spicy foods, and alcohol.
After six weeks, the groups experienced a similar decline in symptoms, with the diet group reporting a slightly greater percent decline in symptoms (62.6% vs. 54.1%).
Intrigued but unsure what it means to consume a Mediterranean diet?
According to Mayo Clinic, a mediterranean-style diet involves…
- Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. (In the context of this particular research study, it meant that 90% of the diet was plant-based.)
- Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil or coconut oil.
- Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.
- Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month.
According to Craig H. Zalvan, MD, from New York Medical College in Valhalla and colleagues, “Other benefits of this diet-based approach include decreased risk for and improved control of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer, and avoiding the risks of drug interaction or complication.”
If you suffer from GERD or chronic acid reflux and are worried about the negative side effects of PPIs, I strongly encourage you to try to shift to a diet based on the Mediterranean diet.
In addition to enjoying tasty and fresh salads and fish, you may very well see a decrease in symptoms without the downsides brought about by PPIs.
At Carolinas Natural Health Center, we help people cure their acid reflux every day. Reach out to us to take the next steps to better health!