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 Desperately Seeking Relief
 

Desperately Seeking Relief

Author Natasha Trenev

You wince in pain as the fire surges upward into your chest. Breathing is difficult. A moment of relief. The burning erupts again with renewed intensity. Are you one of 85 million Americans suffering the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion?

To banish the many symptoms of indigestion, Americans spend $1.4 billion for gastrointestinal products, more than $8 billion for ulcer therapies and another $900 million+ on gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Over-the-counter and prescription medications function by diminishing or blocking the very stomach acid that is supposed to aid digestion. Result: increased gas, constipation and toxic buildup.

So what's the problem? Traditional treatments merely alleviate symptoms, never reaching the cause. Millions of sufferers are plagued with a resulting cycle of extreme discomfort. The excruciating pain may mimic a heart attack, but is actually a sign of trouble in the gut.

THE REAL VILLAIN

Excess stomach acid is not the real villain. Bacterial invaders, such as Helicobacter pylori, burrow into the mucosal lining of the stomach, wreaking havoc when gastric acid burns the lining, causing a sore (ulcer). If the ulcer is found in the stomach, it is called a gastric ulcer; if in the duodenum, it's a duodenal ulcer.

More than half the world's population is infected with H. pylori, and up to seventy percent to eighty percent of the elderly carry the bacteria. Many older people have declining acid production from years of harboring H. pylori, leading to chronic gastritis, malabsorption, poor digestion and its side effects.

Low levels of stomach acid also allow harmful bacteria to grow in stagnant pockets along the gastrointestinal tract. This condition, known as diverticulitis, is characterized by bacteria-caused inflammation in pouches forming in weakened areas of the intestinal tract. Large amounts of gas are generated when bacteria ferment food trapped in these areas, and an uncomfortable bloated feeling results. Antibiotics only compound the problem - addressing the bacterial over growth, but further contributing to gut imbalance as they indiscriminately kill resident flora.

BATTLING THE BURN

When proper digestion is interrupted by imbalanced gut microflora or over-the-counter remedies, stomach acids and enzymes flow backward through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) as heartburn. This and other digestive irregularities are best handled before symptoms arise. Probiotic supplements will enhance digestion, boost the immune system and promote a stronger, more balanced Gl tract.

HEAL THE GUT. HELP THE HEARTBURN

Unlike prescription drugs, where a generic version can be equally as effective as the brand name, probiotic benefits are strain specific and their properties may vary widely. Super strains produce the most effective antimicrobial substances to protect the intestines from harmful organisms, such as H. pylori, Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumoniae. Other strains have been proven to be weaker and less effective.

"PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENTS WILL ENHANCE DIGESTION, BOOST THE IMMUNE SYSTEM AND PROMOTE A STRONGER, MORE BALANCED GI TRACT."

A daily plan using probiotics will replenish beneficial bacteria and promote a healthy, properly functioning Gl tract. Begin by taking super strains of beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, NAS or DDS-1, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Malyoth and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, LB-51.