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The Acid Reflux – Gut Dysbiosis Connection
Dysbiosis is a condition that occurs when there is an imbalance between good bacteria and bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. There are two ways acid reflux and gut dysbiosis are linked. The first is that heartburn or reflux actually might be a symptom of an unbalanced gut microbiome. In fact, this reflux could be your body trying to tell you that something bigger is happening in your body that needs to be addressed. The second link is that over-the-counter reflux medications, such as antacids and PPIs can actually cause gut microflora imbalance and reduce the number of healthy bacteria in your system.
1. Acid reflux can be caused by gut dysbiosis
Your frequent bouts of heartburn might be your body telling you bigger things are happening in your body, specifically in your gut. The catchall term ‘leaky gut’ is used when we have persistent symptoms of gas / bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and even indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux or GERD and any of these symptoms are a sign of an imbalance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. It’s most common for acid reflux to be viewed of as an excess amount of stomach acid, but in fact, it’s usually the opposite – not enough acid to digest food is a major contributor to leaky gut, which can influence your digestive health.
2. Acid reflux medication can cause gut dysbiosis
PPIs have been shown to have the potential to alter the normal microbiota of the gut. This change starts in the esophagus where the drugs modify esophageal bacteria and then continues into the stomach, small bowel and colon, altering the bacteria that is typically naturally present.2 PPIs change the diversity of gut bacteria and specifically, studies have shown that the differences between PPI users and non-users are consistently associated with changes that lead to a less healthy gut microbiome.3 Essentially, these drugs are wiping out good and bad bacteria in your body in their effort to remedy the absence of acid in the stomach, resulting in further problems with digestion.
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