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Last Monday it was reported by NPR that the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) will soon be publishing yet one more reason to leave those PPIs alone! Protect your kidneys! You can now add kidneys to previous evidence of increased risk of bone fracture, infections and possibly even cardiac issues. This is another warning to all of you who regularly choose Nexium, Prilosec or Prevacid to quiet your heartburn, indigestion or GERD.

I have been blogging on the potential issues associated with regularly blocking the normal production of stomach acid for many years. These serious medications, not viewed as potentially dangerous by the medical community until recently, have caused unbelievable heartache and misery for countless Americans. I’ve seen and heard about the damage they produce firsthand as I’ve spoken on digestive health and have been privileged to personally meet with so many of you over the years.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have been thought to be so safe that they are now available over the counter. The only difference between a person’s prescription PPI and the ones at the drugstore is the dosage. So we can do math, can’t we? More heartburn? Just take more Nexium, omeprazole, or similar. NO!

Don’t get me wrong. These drugs can be life saving – short term. That’s the key – short term. While a person is healing from an ulcer or surgery it can be absolutely essential to decrease the amount of acid that’s created in the stomach so the tissues can heal properly. After the healing is complete, those drugs need to go – fast!

Even after a short period of time it can be challenging to wean off PPIs. The longer you depend on them, the harder it becomes. We think of addictions and what comes to mind is pain pills or heroin. Sadly, proton pump inhibitors are every bit as physically addicting, just in a different way.

Morgan Grams, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health led the research resulting in the upcoming JAMA Internal Medicine article. The study focused on evaluating the potential for PPIs to increase the chances you’ll develop chronic kidney disease. While the report wasn’t conclusive in itself, the findings were disturbing enough to cause Grams to warn all of us to only use these drugs when they are absolutely necessary.

Here’s the core issue. If you experience heartburn or indigestion of any type, there’s a reason. Your body is trying to tell you that something needs to be changed. Often it’s your diet (sorry, but that’s the truth). Actually, dietary shift can make a huge positive impact on digestive issues over 80% of the time.

It also might be that it’s time to purchase some digestive enzymes. As we age, our enzyme and acid production decreases so we can use a little help in that regard.

Commonly, after years of unhealthy eating habits, our internal bacterial balance is way out of wack. Probiotics can be your lifesaver in this case.

I implore you – before you start popping PPIs to quell that burning feeling, get a tiny bit creative. Try other digestive aids. Even bust way out of your box and consider a different eating plan! It’s not fun to suffer. I know that. However ignoring the real issue that is screaming for your attention by covering up the symptom will come back to bite you – possibly in your kidneys.

I wish only good digestion for you always!