A recent research study linked peptic disease (heartburn, GERD, stomach ulcer) to gluten exposure in patients with gluten sensitivity. This simply means that gluten and acid reflux are linked.
The authors of this study recommend that all patients with non-infectious peptic disease be screened for celiac disease.
Source: Scand J Gastroenterol. 2009;44(12):1424-8.
Gastric Reflux is A Common Symptom of Gluten Exposure
Gluten and acid reflux are commonly linked and are highly correlated. I commonly see patients with a conglomeration of gastric symptoms that are directly caused by gluten exposure. They have questions like, “Why does bread give me heartburn every time I eat it?” or “Why do I have reflux all of the time?”. They have no idea that this could be related to gluten exposure. Reflux, heartburn, ulcer disease, Barrett’s esophagus, and even hernia are some of the more common diseases I have seen go into remission with the implementation of a TRUE gluten free diet.
Make Sure Your Doctor Orders the Right Tests
As stated before, gluten and acid reflux are highly correlated in most cases, so it is extremely important to be aware of what tests will give you the most accurate results. It is common for physicians to rule out infection (primarily H. pylori) in these patients, but gluten intolerance is very rarely investigated and it should be. The results of this study suggest that patients with gastric disease be screened for celiac disease. The problem with this recommendation is that celiac blood tests and biopsies are extremely inaccurate and have a high degree of false negatives. The other problem is that many people have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Therefore, testing them for celiac disease is a complete waste of time and extremely misleading.
That is why I recommend genetic testing. The results cannot be skewed by diet and are not accompanied with the flaws of celiac blood and biopsy testing.
Drugs That Block Stomach Acid Have Dangerous Consequences
It is important to remember that taking heavy doses of anti-acids and prescription reflux medications are not the answer. Taking these drugs every day only serves to neutralize or reduce stomach acid. Reduction of stomach acid is a major problem as it increases the risk for:
- Osteoporosis (ironically, gluten also causes bone loss)
- Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies (calcium, B-12, folic acid, iron, zinc, and more – also common in those with gluten sensitivity issues)
- Protein and fat malabsorption as well as indigestion.
The chronic use of these medications works against your natural physiology.It does not treat the actual cause of disease, but merely reduces the symptoms (sometimes), thus creating a false sense of “healthy security”. See the diagram below for nutritional deficiencies and consequences of taking acid blocking medications:
What are the Consequences of these Deficiencies?
- Vitamin A – suppression of the immune system, skin inflammation, gastric inflammation, lung inflammation, acid reflux, and infertility
- Protein Deficiency – immune suppression, anemia, inability to heal, blood sugar abnormalities, weight gain, cancer
- Calcium Deficiency – bone loss, hormone disruption, blood clotting problems, muscle cramping, high blood pressure, gum disease
- Iron Deficiency – anemia, increased risk for viral and bacterial infections, fatigue
- Vitamin B12 – nerve damage, increased risk for cancer, heart disease, bone loss, anemia, depression
- Zinc Deficiency – reduced immune function, slow healing, easy bruising, lowered antioxidant status, acidic pH, diabetes, heart disease
- Folate (Folic Acid) – intestinal cancer and polyps, mood disorders (depression, anxiety), cancer, heart disease, bone loss
Why would anyone want to trade the problems above just to reduce symptoms of heartburn? Does it not make better sense to try and determine the cause of the heartburn? We bathe our intestines with food 3 or more times a day. Shouldn’t we start looking at the diet first to see what foods cause reflux? When did common sense go out the window? The symptoms those with gluten intolerance suffer often time resembles those who suffer from GERD or acid reflux. Below is a list of foods that cause acid reflux:
- wine and other alcoholic beverages
- coffee and tea
An acid reflux diet is a great place to start when you’re looking for relief. There are many more, and it should be stated that different people react differently to different foods. The bottom line is this – if you have acid reflux, have your doctor test for food allergies as part of his investigation into the cause of your problem. Don’t accept a drug-based treatment without a solution since gluten and acid reflux are highly correlated.
Are you struggling with gluten and acid reflux problems? Are you trying to figure out if you have gluten sensitivity? Take our sensitivity test to see if your symptoms are gluten intolerance. Please do me a favor. If going gluten-free eliminated or reduced your gastric problems, please share with us below in the Leave a Reply Box. Your story may help encourage someone else to go gluten-free.
Wishing you excellent health,
Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior