Some people get relief by using medications to reduce acid levels in their stomach. To a lesser degree, food can help. Probiotics can help keep your acid reflux under control.
You should be aware of some things about probiotics for acid reflux before you decide to use them.
The goal of this article is to present facts about probiotics for acid reflux that you may find useful in your quest for relief from heartburn and regurgitation.
What Exactly Is Acid Reflux?
The esophagus is the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. It’s lined with mucous membranes that help to protect it from the strong acids in your stomach.
When you have acid reflux, the contents of your stomach can splash up into this area and cause irritation or inflammation of these membranes. This inflammation is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
You may have acid reflux if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Heartburn pain or discomfort in the chest area that goes away when you take antacids or other medication for heartburn relief
- A sour taste in your mouth after eating or drinking something acidic like orange juice or tomato sauce
- Waking up at night because of heartburn pain (also known as nocturnal GERD)
Causes of Acid Reflux
The root cause of acid reflux isn’t quite identified, but it may be related to abnormal function of the muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
This muscle acts like a valve between the esophagus and stomach, allowing food to go through it into the stomach but keeping contents from moving back up into the esophagus.
In people with GERD, the LES doesn’t close properly or relax normally, so it allows acidic stomach contents to move up into the esophagus more frequently than normal.
When you have GERD, the back flow of acid can irritate and inflame nearby tissues in your esophagus and cause symptoms such as heartburn and chest pain. The acid can also damage tissue and erode your teeth if it comes in contact with them.
Can probiotic cause acid reflux? Can probiotics cause heartburn? Well, probiotics for acid reflux and heartburn are a popular topic, but the answer isn’t always cut and dry.
Probiotics can help with acid reflux and heartburn, but it depends on the individual. If you’re taking probiotics to treat heartburn or acid reflux, you should be aware of how they might interact with your other medications and medical conditions.
It’s important to note that there have been no studies done on the effects of probiotics on GERD specifically. All studies have been done on general IBS symptoms like bloating, pain relief, indigestion relief and constipation relief.
Some people have reported that they feel better after starting a probiotic regimen. Others have reported no change at all. And some find that their symptoms get worse when taking probiotics for their acid reflux or heartburn symptoms.
If you’re interested to know more about misconceptions around probiotics, read this post of mine on busting the most common probiotic myths.
Poor Gut Health and Acid Reflux
How are poor gut health and acid reflux related to each other?
To put it simply: Acid reflux is a symptom of poor gut health.
A healthy gut means your body’s digestive system can process and absorb nutrients from the food you eat. If your gut is unhealthy, it can’t do this as well.
One way that poor gut health leads to acid reflux is by allowing bacteria to grow in your stomach. The bacteria produce excess acid, which causes your esophagus to burn and swell up when it comes back up through the lower part of your throat.
This swelling causes acid reflux symptoms—like heartburn or indigestion—that can last for hours at a time.
Other Acid Reflux Treatments
There are a lot of benefits to probiotics for acid reflux. However, there are also other treatments that are available nowadays. These include:
- Proton pump inhibitors: These are drugs that reduce stomach acid production. They’re often prescribed to people who have had surgery on the esophagus or stomach, or to those with severe GERD. They can be taken as pills or in liquid form.
- H2 blockers: These work by blocking histamine, which causes acid secretion and swelling in the esophagus. They’re often used when proton pump inhibitors don’t work well enough on their own or if you have trouble swallowing pills.
- Bismuth subsalicylate: This is an antacid sold over the counter as Pepto-Bismol or other brands, but it also relieves heartburn symptoms caused by acid reflux. It works by coating your esophagus to protect it from stomach acid and stopping the production of more acid.
Probiotics and Acid Reflux: How Do They Work?
Probiotics are a form of bacteria that can help alleviate the symptoms of acid reflux. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid and digestive juices flow up from the stomach into your esophagus. This causes irritation, which can lead to discomfort in the chest.
Probiotics are microorganisms that live in the intestines and help to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your system. When you have too many bad bacteria, it can cause all sorts of digestive problems, including heartburn and acid reflux.
The good news is that there are probiotic supplements available that can help keep your gut healthy by replacing lost good bacteria. You can also eat foods with probiotics in them—like yogurt or kefir—to get the benefits of these beneficial microbes as well.
Probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium are common strains of probiotic bacteria found in yogurt, fermented vegetables, and other foods. The probiotics in these foods can be helpful for people with acid reflux disease.
First, they can help reduce the amount of stomach acid you produce by creating an environment that’s less hospitable to bad bacteria and more welcoming to good bacteria in the digestive tract.
Second, they may help soothe your stomach by preventing damage caused by excess acid production or other digestive problems like diarrhea or constipation. Third, they may prevent the growth of Candida albicans (yeast) by producing lactic acid which inhibits the growth of yeast.
Combining Probiotics and Antacids: Is It Safe?
If you’re taking heartburn probiotics, you might be wondering whether it’s safe to combine them with antacids.
The short answer is yes, it’s perfectly safe—but there are a few things you should know before you do so.
The long answer is that not all antacids work the same way. Some work by neutralizing stomach acid and others work by blocking the production of stomach acid.
Because some probiotics can reduce the amount of stomach acid your body produces, combining them with antacids can cause them to stop working as well.
However, it’s important to note that not all probiotics have this effect. Only those containing lactic acid bacteria (LAB) will be affected by antacid use.
If your probiotic contains other types of bacteria like Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus faecium instead, then it will still be effective even when combined with an antacid.
FAQs: Answering Your (Heart)Burning Questions
What Probiotic Should I Take for Acid Reflux?
The right probiotic can help you get your acid reflux under control. But before you start taking probiotics, you need to know what kind of probiotics you should be taking.
The most powerful probiotics are the ones that contain Bacillus, which is a type of bacteria. The best part about Bacillus is that it’s very effective at combating harmful bacteria in the digestive tract.
This means that not only will it help with your acid reflux, but it will also help prevent other stomach problems as well. Taking power-packed supplements such as Optima will also help you keep your gut health in check.
Can Taking Probiotics Help Acid Reflux?
YES. When it comes to acid reflux, probiotics are thought to be helpful for a few reasons:
First, they can reduce inflammation of the esophagus. This is important because the esophagus is a delicate organ that’s susceptible to damage from acid reflux.
Second, they can help prevent bacterial overgrowth by crowding out bad bacteria that may cause illness or disease.
Third, they have an overall positive effect on digestion—which may reduce symptoms of acid reflux by reducing excess stomach acid production or improving digestive function.
In case you’re still eyeballing it and you’re thinking about the quantity of probiotics and how frequent you need to take them, check this post that I wrote on “how long does it take for probiotics to work”.
Can Probiotics Make Acid Reflux Worse?
Can probiotics cause indigestion or even worsen acid reflux? Not really.
The most common reason someone might experience indigestion or worse acid reflux from taking probiotics is if their stomach is sensitive to dairy products or lactose (the sugar in milk).
If you have this problem, it’s best to avoid most dairy-based foods—including yogurt—and limit your intake of other sources of lactose like cereal and ice cream until your body has had time to adjust to them (usually 3–4 weeks).
You should also talk with a doctor before taking any type of supplement if you have any health conditions like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease because some probiotics may interfere with medications or cause other problems with these conditions.
I have also written age group-specific articles about probiotics, such as the best probiotics for women over 50.
It’s hard to say whether probiotics directly cause acid reflux, but it’s definitely something that you should take into consideration.
While some studies will back up the idea, there are plenty of others that contradict their findings. To keep yourself safe, make sure you discuss the subject with your doctor before deciding to add probiotics—or any other supplement—to your routine.
Interested in more discussions around probiotics? Browse this page to read more on topics such as “can probiotic cause weight gain?”
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