Updated: Jul 31, 2021
There is no doubt that people are experiencing increased issues with gut health. Having worked in the radiology department of my local hospital for some time, I have been witness to the need for a more natural approach to solving issues around digestion. The NHS, whilst absolutely marvelous at saving lives and mending broken bones, seems to have lost the battle with chronic illness. The following is a quote from a 2013 NHS blog: “Being ill isn’t what it used to be; blame it on long term conditions.” 1
The reliance on pharmaceutical prescription has largely lead to the polypharmacy hamsters wheel whereby you need yet another pill to deal with the side effects of the initial prescription!
This T-shirt rather spells it out:
Gut issues are a strong case in point here. The overprescribing of antibiotics has lead to resistance and in addition, can cause imbalances (dysbiosis) in our gut bacteria. Our immune function is then compromised as 70-80% of the immune system resides in the gastro-intestinal system in regions called ‘Peyer’s Patches’.
Head slightly upstream and for many who experience ‘heartburn’ or reflux, PPIs such as omeprazole are given out to so many patients, yet this prescription is not always reviewed, even though PPI’s are only supposed to be used for a matter of weeks – not years!!! A relative of mine was taking them for 10 years. Needless to say, her assimilation of nutrients was extremely depleted which eventually lead to serious complications.
Proton Pump Inhibitors decrease stomach acid (HCl) – the very substance we need for the breakdown of food, especially proteins, and the knock-on effects provided by good levels of HCl is to trigger the other digestive enzymes as well as bile. We need these agents to avoid malnutrition! Imagine that, consuming many calories yet being malnourished. Yes, this is possible.
A nutritional therapist may suggest taking HCl supplementally whilst working to heal the damage of long-term PPI use and employing other ways to stimulate your own production naturally.
There are some self-help strategies that can be employed such as:
Get checked for food intolerances
Try bitter herbs and foods to stimulate digestive secretions
Minimize coffee, alcohol and other stimulants
Take digestive support – i.e. probiotics, digestive enzymes and glutamine with main meals
Control your weight
Don’t lie down after eating
Get tested for stomach ulcers
If free of ulcers, try Betaine HCl
In terms of over-reliance on antibiotics, there are other, again more natural ways of dealing with some infections as well as re-populating the gut with missing microbes killed off during some antibiotic treatments.
If this is something that you have been affected by, please do contact us.