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Each year more than 100 million Americans are prescribed acid-blocking drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for heartburn and acid reflux, but a recent series of studies may have PPI users thinking twice about whether or not they really need them—or want them.

CBS this week ran a segment about drugs like Prilosec® and Nexium® that stated that “more than half of prescriptions for these drugs are unnecessary”. What’s more, PPIs often come with serious side effects that many people are unaware of—including a nearly 75 percent greater risk of developing a severe intestinal infection known as C. diff, as well as an increased risk of developing pneumonia, and a greater incidence of bone fractures (due to the fact that PPIs block calcium absorption in the body).

Essentially, taking PPIs upsets the healthy bacterial balance in your intestines (which is where the majority of your natural immune defenses can be found), leaving your body vulnerable to illness and infection. However, experts had some good advice about smarter, safer alternatives to harmful acid-blocking drugs, many of which include simple changes in diet and lifestyle that could reduce the chances of heartburn and reflux happening in the first place:

  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Avoid fatty and/or spicy foods
  • Avoid chocolate
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Get plenty of exercise
  • Quit smoking

A natural heartburn relief supplement made with ingredients such as ellagic acid (from raspberries and pomegranates) may also help ease the pain and discomfort of occasional heartburn, and a daily digestive enzyme with added HCl can help ensure complete digestion and prevent the onset of heartburn and reflux symptoms. Daily supplementation with a high-potency probiotic supplement may also help to reestablish and maintain a healthy bacterial balance in the intestinal tract.

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It’s a daily struggle for moms and dads everywhere: getting kids to make healthy choices when all they want to do is gobble down fast food and spend hours in front of the television. But the good news is that by teaching them early about the importance of healthy dietary and lifestyle habits, you can give your children the tools they need to become healthier adults. Here are some quick tips to help you get started:

Don’t Forget the Fiber

A high-fiber diet provides countless benefits for growing bodies, including heart health, better digestion, and even healthy weight management. Fiber-rich foods help manage hunger by supporting healthy blood sugar levels, and they typically have a lower energy density (the number of calories in a particular volume of food) than foods with fewer grams of fiber, which means they pack fewer calories per bite. Most experts recommend that kids eat their “age plus 5” in grams of fiber every day, so a natural fiber supplement can help make up for what they don’t get from their diet.

Prepare Healthy Snacks Beforehand

Sure, store-bought snacks are convenient, but are they healthy? For most pre-packaged goodies, the answer is no. Instead, many are heavily processed and contain high amounts of refined sugar but very little nutritional value. Your best bet is to set aside some time each week to prepare healthy snack options—think chopped fruits and veggies, cheese slices or homemade trail mix—them keep them on hand in the fridge or pantry for a quick, wholesome snack anytime.

Get Active

According to the National Institutes of Health, kids should get at least one hour of physical exercise every day to help build healthy bones and keep muscles and joints strong and flexible. Regular exercise can also help burn calories and promote healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Getting active can also help ease stress, increase mental clarity and boost their self-esteem—not to mention help kids sleep better at night!

Set the Example

When all is said and done, the surest way to teach kids about better habits is to set the example. Make healthy eating and regular exercise a part of your daily life, and be sure to talk to your kids about good nutrition and how it will help their bodies now and in the future. The more they know, the healthier your kids will be, and soon making smart choices will be second nature!

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‡These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The material on this page is for consumer informational and educational purposes only, under section 5 of DSHEA.

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