Keep indigestion from killing your kidneys

Many Americans are feeling the burn — the burning chest pain of acid reflux disease, that is. And if you’ve ever had acid reflux, you know the feeling all too well.

It doesn’t always burn (although that’s the trademark symptom). It can also make you nauseous, cause you to burp or just give you general dose of chest and stomach discomfort.

Whatever your symptoms, there’s no question that acid reflux is unpleasant… but the true question is how do you deal with your unruly stomach acid when it strikes?

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Firstly, if you want a real solution to acid reflux indigestion, don’t follow the conventional wisdom of conventional physicians. While drug companies and mainstream doctors maintain that acid reflux, acid indigestion and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) result from too much stomach acid, they’ve got the situation backwards: Reflux results from too little stomach acid, not too much.

Secondly, if you considered prescription medication to ease your symptoms, you’re putting yourself at risk for an even more serious health problem.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a group of drugs most commonly used to treat acid reflux disease and ulcers. Some of the best-known PPIs include Prevacid (lansoprazole), Prilosec (omeprazole) and Nexium (esomeprazole). They were designed to slow down your stomach’s acid production, but it turns out they do much more than that…

They also increase your risk of bone fracture, pneumonia and clostridium difficile infection. And, most recently, they’ve been linked to a very serious side effect: They cause kidney disease and even kidney failure.

A study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that, after five years, people using PPIs were more likely to experience a decline in their kidney function than those taking other drugs to treat their acid reflux. PPI users were also 28 percent more likely to develop chronic kidney disease and 96 percent more likely to develop kidney failure.

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This is pretty scary considering more than 15 million Americans were prescribed proton pump inhibitors in 2013. They are actually one of the most overprescribed medications around, with doctors writing a script for even occasional and mild cases of acid reflux, though they were really designed for chronic cases.

But even if you are a chronic acid reflux sufferer, there are better, less risky ways to restore balance to your stomach acid and relieve symptoms.

Since acid reflux is really a sign of an imbalance in your stomach, your first step should be to take a look at your diet. If you’re eating a lot of processed foods, sugar and highly-acidic items like coffee and alcohol, you’re going to have to make some serious changes to put an end to your stomach acid issues. Adding more probiotic-rich foods to your diet can also do wonders when it comes to restoring balance to your stomach.

But if a change in diet alone doesn’t put an end to your unruly stomach acid, try apple cider vinegar. Many chronic acid reflux sufferers say a spoonful of apple cider vinegar makes the stomach acid go down. That’s because apple cider vinegar helps restore a balanced pH level to your stomach and also fights off any unwelcoming invaders that might be contributing to your problem (like Candida).

You can buy apple cider vinegar pills from the store or you can make a delicious health tonic at home by mixing two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a tablespoon of honey, a bit of lemon and hot water. Honey and lemon also help alkalize your stomach, so this drink is a triple threat when it comes to treating acid reflux.

Of course don’t forget about vitamin U, the superhero of stomach ailments that could also provide lots of relief and guard your stomach against a smorgasbord of digestion-related conditions.

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and