Excess Stomach acid is a problem, thats why many of us take acid reducers for heartburn. Many of us are also health conscious and take probiotics too. So this begs the question; Can we take both together?
When we’re taking medications, one of the most important things to consider is drug to drug interaction. But it is a slightly different story if we’re taking natural remedies and alternative medicine. These herbal remedies are less likely to produce very severe herb-drug interactions. Still, a few herbs do have an interaction with medications and should be discontinued to reduce the side effects or maintain the effectiveness in your current therapy.
If that’s the case with herbal remedies, what can we say about probiotics? Since probiotics are basically living bacteria and not chemicals, they rarely cause any type of interaction with health conditions or drugs. What they do is simply adding themselves to the gut microbiota and perform their natural functions in the intestines.
However, special consideration is required when it comes to probiotics, the stomach function, and its acid environment.
Probiotics and your stomach
The stomach has many functions, and they are all equally relevant. One of them is receiving and processing food, blending nutrients together and shredding large pieces of food into smaller particles. Another function is performed through the secretion of stomach juice, which contains acid and several enzymes that start the digestion process. Additionally, in the stomach takes place the absorption of some key nutrients, and the body protects itself against environmental harm.
Actually, acid plays two roles in one. It helps you digest but also protects your body against infection. Almost everything you eat has plenty of bacteria, and the first barrier against bacterial colonization is being in contact with stomach acid. It is meant to destroy bacteria, and since probiotics are bacteria, the interaction is clear. A significant number of healthy bacteria will die in the stomach and won’t reach the gut.
This is normal and completely expected, which is why probiotics formulations take in consideration this step and gives you a bit more than you actually need to compensate. In the end, your stomach will destroy a significant portion, but the rest will remain and perform its functions without any problem.
Benefits of probiotics and acid reducers
With this in mind, is it recommended to use acid reducers every time we use probiotics? The answer depends on each particular case, and would be yes only if you have a problem with your stomach acid. People with gastritis, acid reflux, stomach or duodenal ulcers may benefit from taking probiotics and acid reducers together in one, but reducing your stomach acid when your health is intact is not a good idea.
Acid reducers have plenty of health benefits. They reduce the incidence of duodenal and stomach ulcers, calm down heartburn symptoms, and help patients control an outburst of acid reflux or gastritis. They can be used to treat ulcers, if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and to prevent ulcers when you’re taking too many anti-inflammatory drugs.
Using probiotics and acid reducers in this circumstance is appropriate and beneficial. There’s a particular relationship between probiotic foods and stomach acid, and some clinical studies suggest that fermented foods may contribute to solving the problem naturally. Other studies have also mentioned that consuming probiotics when you have a reflux situation is also beneficial to reduce the symptoms and improve your condition.
Thus, probiotics and acid reducers can make a part in the therapeutic plan, especially when you have GERD or a severe acid reflux condition.
But if you’re completely healthy and start taking these acid reducers, the capacity of your stomach to digest food and protect you from harm may become compromised. Thus, do not use them just to increase effectivity of probiotics. Instead of using acid reducers for this purpose, you can simply increase the dose of probiotics and let your body work as it should.
The number of probiotic bacteria that survive the stomach acid is usually a percentage that varies between patients. So, it simply works like statistics. You take more bacteria, and more of them will survive and complete their work.
On the other hand, if you do have a stomach condition and your doctor prescribed acid reducers, you can take them along with probiotics without a problem. They will actually reduce the number of healthy bacteria that will die in the stomach.
Conclusions and recommendations
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that need to go through the gastrointestinal system to reach the large intestine. The first obstacle they face is the stomach acid, which attempts to kill them to prevent infection. However, a given percentage of bacteria still survive and continue their journey through the gastrointestinal tract.
Acid reducers can be helpful to shorten the number of bacteria that die in the stomach. However, there’s no reason to use these medications every time you take probiotics, especially if you decide to do it every day in for months or years.
If you do, stomach acid can become insufficient, and we don’t want that, either. But if you’ve been prescribed and follow a doctor’s indication, taking acid reducers along with probiotics will not affect you in any way and will not cause any harmful interaction.
A recommendation if you’re considering to use acid reducers and probiotics is to take the acid reducer 30 to 40 minutes before taking probiotics. That way, acid reducers will have a complete effect on your stomach when probiotics make contact with stomach juice, and the number of dead bacteria will be shortened.
It is also important to take medications exactly as recommended by your doctor, even if you do not have symptoms. That way, we can avoid a chronic acid buildup problem that affects the ratio of probiotics your gut is receiving.
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