Do you often experience upset stomach, indigestion, cramping or constipation? Do you frequently take heartburn medications? Have you recently been prescribed antibiotics? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you might be at increased risk for bone disease. The truth is that stomach health is directly linked to bone health, and one of the best ways to prevent bone disease and reduce osteoporosis symptoms is to get your stomach acid in balance.
Heartburn Medications Related to Bone Fractures
If you frequently experience heartburn and take the common proton pump inhibitor drugs to ease your pain, know that these drugs have been linked to poor bone health and increased risk of fractures. Proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s) – Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix and Nexium – are most commonly used for treatment of chronic heartburn (indigestion), stomach ulcers or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). PPI’s reduce the production of stomach acid by blocking “proton pumps” in the stomach wall.
According to research, these proton pump inhibitors are associated with an increased risk of development of osteoporosis symptoms such as bone fractures, especially in postmenopausal women. A study of chronic use of PPI’s found that hip fracture risk increased by 44% after taking the drug for one year. Even more disconcerting, taking the drug for as long as 7 years results in a 92% increase for any type of osteoporosis fracture! The concern was so serious that the FDA issued a “Safety Announcement” in May of 2010 warning physicians and patients of the increased risk of fractures of the hip, wrist, and spine with the use of these medications.
Bacteria Imbalance = Stomach Acid Imbalance
Aside from heartburn medications, stomach acid imbalance can be caused by a depletion of normal flora bacteria in the gut. Certain foods and medications – specifically antibiotics – can deplete these normal flora, or “good” bacteria, that are naturally found within the intestinal tract, causing tiny holes to form in the intestinal lining. When your stomach lining is compromised, it leads to low stomach acid production.
Why is stomach acid production so important to bone health?
Dr. Jonathan Wright, M.D., a well-known natural healing physician in Renton, Washington, explains that 90% of his patients with osteoporosis have low stomach acid. Why? Because stomach acid plays a major role in how your body absorbs calcium, B12, magnesium and many other nutrients needed to form strong bones. Therefore, chronically low stomach acid levels can set you up to develop osteoporosis symptoms down the road.
Probiotics’ Benefits Include Balancing Stomach Acid
If you have low stomach acid, you can take all the vitamins and minerals in the world, but your stomach’s capacity to digest these nutrients will be severely limited. Meaning, the supplements you take will have zero effect until you fix your stomach acid balance first!
One of the best methods to balance your stomach acid and rebuild you gut barrier is to increase your intake of probiotics – either from food sources or if that’s too much trouble from supplements. Probiotics are healthy, beneficial bacteria that can replace the bacteria that have been depleted. Probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species benefit gut health by colonizing the soft lining of the intestinal tract. Lactobacilli prefer the ileum section of the small intestine while Bifidobacteria do best in the large intestine. Therefore, when selecting a probiotic supplement, try to choose one that contains both of these species. Take the dosage recommended on the manufacturer’s bottle and double up on your dose if you’ve recently been on antibiotics or if you frequently experience heartburn. If you are currently taking antibiotics, take your probiotics 2 hours before your antibiotic. Continue taking probiotics for at least a couple of weeks after you have finished your course of antibiotics. If you have stopped taking the probiotics and you begin having any gastrointestinal symptoms, resume taking them. Good food sources of probiotics are homemade yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, microalgae like spirulina or chorella, miso soup, and kimchi. Many of these can be made inexpensively at home to create the beneficial gut-healing bacteria.
Improve You Gut Health and Prevent Osteoporosis Symptoms
The bottom line is that good health is determined not by what you eat but by what you absorb! So, if you frequently experience stomach problems or take heartburn medications, download our Comprehensive Guide, Osteoporosis Relief: Natural Remedies for Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment. Our Guide gives instructions on how you can you test to see if you have low stomach acid as well as natural remedies you can use to balance the levels of your stomach acid and thus achieve optimum gut health.
 Visible Journal of Endoscopy. “PPIs and Risk for Bone Fractures.” Peter R. McNally, DO, FACP, FACG, University of Colorado Denver, Vol. 9.