Stomach acid plays a critical role in digestion. An imbalance of stomach acid can cause you problems, anything from heartburn to nutritional deficiency.
The FDA is warning consumers about a possible cancer risk in a popular antacid product.
Ranitidine and Cancer Risk
According to CNN CVS is pulling Zantac from its shelves based upon an FDA statement that ranitidine antacid medicines contain low levels of an impurity that COULD cause cancer. The FDA has NOT recommended that patients stop taking ranitidine products.
How your digestion works:
The digestive system starts at your mouth and ends at your anus.
Gastric juice is made up of digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, mucus and bicarbonate. Your body produces about 3 to 4 liters of gastric juice per day. This gastric juice allows for important nutrients absorption. Without it you can develop nutritional deficiencies.
When stomach acid is neutralized vitamins, minerals, proteins and amino acids cannot be absorbed.
When we experience the pain of heartburn or indigestion it is from too little stomach acid that is allowing gas and bubbles back up the esophagus. Your esophagus sits at the top of the stomach. To ease the pain you can take an antacid. This works to remove your discomfort. However, this does not correct the problem. The problem is your stomach digestion isn’t working properly which can lead to heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux.
Stomach acid is composed of hydrochloric acid (HCI). Stomach acid helps you:
- Digest protein
- Prevents infection and food poisoning by killing off harmful bacteria in the food we eat
- Breaks down protein that allows vitamin B12 absorption
- Signals the other organs to release their enzymes for digestion
Common causes of low stomach acid:
- Age (risk increases with age)
- Antacid Use
- Chronic Stress
- Stomach Surgery
- Excess Sugar
- Constant snacking
- Thiamin and Zinc deficiencies
Symptoms of Low Stomach Acid:
- Weak fingernails
- Undigested food in stool
Stomach acid with a pH less than 3 is considered normal. Stomach acid with a pH between 3 and 5 is considered low.
To treat low stomach acid a doctor may prescribe digestive enzymes and HCL supplements, along with supplements you may need to alter your diet and learn to manage your stress.
Antacids mess with your stomach chemistry, this alone is a reason to avoid them but now there may be some unsafe products out there that can raise your risk of cancer. Be aware that when you start treating one problem you may just be trading it for another.
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