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Study finds surprising real cause of acid reflux damage

It’s Memorial Day — and I know we’ll all take time today to honor all the brave men and women who gave so much for our country.

If you’re like millions of Americans, you’ll also spend a few hours today firing up the grill, surrounded by family and friends.

And a day spent chowing down on your favorite foods can leave you fighting some of the worst acid reflux you can imagine.

But before you scramble for one of those proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) like Nexium, Prevacid, or Prilosec, there’s an urgent new warning you need to hear.

Because a new study has found that PPIs aren’t just dangerous for preventing acid reflux damage.

They might be completely useless.

A kick in the gut

For years, millions of people with acid reflux have been caught between a rock and a hard place.

And a pretty painful one at that.

On one hand, the PPIs that the mainstream hands out like candy have been linked to everything from serious kidney disease to dementia.

Larry the Cable Guy never seems to mention that during those Prilosec commercials, does he?

On the other hand, we’ve been told that unless we control our acid reflux, we’re at risk for damage to the esophagus — and even esophageal cancer.

But it’s starting to look like the talk about stomach acid slowly eating away our esophagus is all smoke — and not a lot of fire.

In a new study, just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that it’s not stomach acid at all that causes esophageal damage.

And that means those PPI acid-blockers that Big Pharma is selling by the billions may not be doing a darned thing for us at all.

Researchers discovered that when you’re suffering from acid reflux, your body releases proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation.

And it’s that inflammation, and not stomach acid, that damages your esophagus over time.

That idea may sound pretty revolutionary — but it’s just common sense. We know that damage to the esophagus occurs slowly, but an acid burn would happen much more quickly.

It also explains why supplements that control inflammation, like curcumin, have been proven so effective at heartburn and acid-reflux relief.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Stuart Spechler, says his research could cause a “radical change” in how we look at acid reflux.

And I say it’s about time!

Now, believe me, I get it. When you’re having an acid-reflux flare-up, you want relief right away.

But the good news is there are some simple steps you can take that don’t involve popping a dangerous PPI. In addition to taking inflammation-blockers like curcumin, you can:

  • Take probiotics — either as a supplement or with high-quality organic cultured foods such as kefir and yogurt.
  • Cut down on acidic beverages, such as soda and some fruit juices. Coffee also can trigger heartburn for some people.
  • Drink a glass of water each day with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. I know that sounds crazy, but lots of people swear by it. Apple cider vinegar seems to support healthy acid levels in your stomach.
  • Avoid eating too close to bedtime. And if you crash on the couch after dinner, sit up. Lying down shortly after you eat can cause a backflow of acid.

And if you’re taking PPIs, don’t just quit them cold turkey. That can cause even worse acid reflux than you had before.

Instead, work with your doctor to slowly wean yourself off the drugs.