The free lunch

Some doctors seem to believe in the myth of the free lunch. Got problems from too much stomach acid? Just take an acid blocker, knock out acid production up to 99%, and you’re good to go. No problems.

However, taking acid blockers is not problem free. Calcium, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B-12, to name just a few essential nutrients, require acid for proper absorption. Acid blockers reduce the efficiency of digestion of protein (especially collagen in connective tissue), allowing more food antigens (basically oligopeptides > 10 amino acids) to pass into the small intestine, where food sensitivities and food allergies can develop or intensify. Consider also the improper bile secretion that accompanies improper acidification of the stomach contents. Consider also that not properly acidifying stomach contents allows more harmful bacteria to survive and to possibly colonize the intestines, etc.

There is no free lunch. The expression “6 of one, half-dozen of the other” is closer to the truth, but “6 of one, 5 of the other” may be relevant at times, when a small benefit can be teased out of a process with proper fine-tuning. A blunt step like a near total acid block is not ever a good idea in the long term. For 2 weeks while an esophagus heals? Maybe. But a long-term fine tuning (in the above example, using histamine blockers to provide 25%-75% inhibition of acid production) may give us 1 step forward, but one still has to make 6 steps forward to net that one step forward. There is no free lunch in the world of mathematical nihilism.

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