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Heartburn or GERD

Most adults have experienced occasional burning pain or pressure in the middle of their chest. It’s rarely a heart attack even though it seems to be in that area.
Two recent newsletters have different takes on treating heartburn or the chronic condition called GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease)
The November 2011 issue of Johns Hopkins Newsletter “Health After Fifty” tells of a European study comparing proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium, Prilosec or Prevacid with surgery that repairs the junction of the stomach and esophagus. Both prevented acid regurgitation for five years, but 18% of both groups had upper abdominal pain and some still had occasional heartburn. 57% of the surgery group and 40% of those on pills had flatulence and 40% and 28% had bloating. Proton inhibitors have been considered benign, but they can increase the risk of breaking hip, spine and wrist bones in persons over fifty.
Dr. Sydney Wolfe editor of Public Citizen’s “Worst Pills, Best Pills News” says that this and other side-effects of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can be life-threatening. If an elderly woman with osteoporosis breaks a hip it might be fatal. Decreased .stomach acid can allow harmful bacteria to get to the small intestine and cause infections. PPIs can lower magnesium and also decrease the effectiveness of several medications. PPIs can cause dependence because if you quit taking them your stomach produces even more acid. Dr. Wolfe says most people should first change daily routines and take anti-acids for relief as needed. PPIs should be the last resort.
I say that preventing these symptoms is best but then use the mildest method available to treat a temporary excess of stomach acid. You wouldn’t kill a mouse with a canon so resist the doctor’s suggestion that you need a proton pump inhibitor to prevent your stomach from making acid. Realize that drinking black coffee or hard liquor without food can cause your stomach to make acid. The main use of stomach acid is to break down proteins. If you have eaten too big a steak, it’s only natural for your stomach to make more acid and do a lot more churning that might cause some acid to be forced past the junction of your esophagus. You need that acid for proper digestion. Take an anti-acid for relief but be good to your stomach and be more moderate in the future.

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Lose Five Pounds in Three Days

There’s no way you can burn five pounds of fat in that short time unless you’re a lumberjack or maybe an athlete doing a strenuous work-out over eight hours a day. Quick weight loss on any diet, even when you’re also taking some “magic pill” is not going to be of body fat. It is lost water or loss of protein from your muscles if you’re not getting enough total calories.

If the weight loss is accompanied by a smaller dress size or your abdomen is smaller, you have probably lost false fat. False fat makes you look fat because of bloating. This may include gas in your stomach and intestine as well as excess water in your tissues. It is often caused by a food your body doesn’t tolerate. Like many adults, I have lactose intolerance and get the bloating from milk. On occasion I have also seen a temporary increase in the size of my belly if I have too much orange juice or too much coffee. A typical American breakfast of milk, cereal and orange juice might be the cause of your false fat. With a true allergy your body reacts to even a small amount of a food you should never have. If you have an intolerance to a food, a small amount might be okay but the more you have the more bloated you get.

Before you spend a lot of money on pills containing exotic roots, fruit or seed extracts, first try different foods in your regular meals. You may discover that whole fruit and nuts makes a more satisfying quick breakfast. I often have whole grain toast with Irish cheddar cheese topped with applesauce and frozen blueberries heated in the microwave. I don’t get hungry for hours. The fat and protein in the natural cheese counteract the carbohydrates in the bread and fruit.

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Drugs Have Side Effects; Statins Are the Worst

Many elderly Americans are taking up to ten drugs. Most pharmaceuticals are used to treat symptoms, not get at their cause. Pharmacists and doctors say that some medications can even make another one less effective. Dr. Dale Peterson says that if a person is taking more than three prescriptions, the extra ones are probably to relieve side effects of the main ones.
Dr. Peterson says that statins (anti-cholesterol drugs) can have dangerous side effects.
Dr. Peterson has seen patients who got muscle pain, forgetfulness, anxiety, depression and sexual difficulties after using statins. He also reports that persons on statins can get the high blood sugar associated with diabetes. Even though statins are widely used, the Cochrane report published in January did not show that statins prevented first heart attacks or strokes.
The reason anti-cholesterol drugs can have dangerous side effects is that cholesterol is essential to life. It’s the main substance in brain and nerve tissue. HDL-cholesterol aids in transporting LDL-cholesterol to where it is used in making sex hormones and vitamin D as well as to muscle cells. Steve Reichman, researcher at Texas A & M shows that the highest levels of LDL-cholesterol are associated with the greatest gain in muscle mass from exercise.
It doesn’t make sense to block a liver enzyme that makes cholesterol. Wouldn’t it be better to quit consuming high-fructose corn syrup, shown by Dr. Bantle, Univ. of Minnesota, to cause too high blood levels of both LDL-cholesterol and tri-glycerides (blood fats)?

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