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Sharon Price, MS, CNS, LN offers personalized nutrition counseling to help individuals and families navigate the often-complex interplay between food and health— taking a special interest in healthy body composition, gut health, and food allergies. Her goal? To help individuals and families savor good health without feeling enslaved to its pursuit.

One Nutritionist’s View on Medication

By Sharon Price, MS, CNS, LN

Sharon Price, MS, CNS, LN

Over the past several months of sheltering at home, many of us have fallen prey to the lure of convenient “comfort foods.” The resultant weight gain gives COVID-19 a whole new meaning for some, while increasing risks with infection—since obesity has been correlated with more severe complications. Diets high in processed, sugary foods also suppress protective immune function.

For all these reasons,I offer an anti-viral protocol including herbal and vitamin supplements, as well as nutrient-dense and varied foods. But I have also observed with relief that medical experts have expanded the toolbox of medicines to treat and ease the effects of the virus. I believe there’s a time and place for medication, but that good nutrition and lifestyle habits must always form the foundation of good health.

As a culture, we tend to over-rely on medication while downplaying the importance of healthy eating. That’s reflected in my practice, where some of the most common complaints I see include bloating, pain, and poor digestion. In addition to less-than-ideal eating habits, these individuals often share a history of long or repeated antibiotic use, or reliance on proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for reflux. I consider these red flags in terms of health and nutrition.

Why? Extensive antibiotic use can imbalance gastrointestinal flora, triggering maldigestion, bloating, pain, and more. That’s because they wipe out both good and bad bacteria indiscriminately. When antibiotics are necessary, I recommend an individualized gut supportive protocol both during and after taking them, including probiotics, digestive support, gut healing elements, and immune support. This can help prevent or address an overgrowth of yeast or opportunistic bacteria, along with many of the unpleasant GI issues that follow.

PPIs are a whole different medication that can lead to similar long-term issues, and many people take them for years, unaware of possible negative effects. PPIs hamper nutrient absorption in three ways: they specifically limit absorption of B12 and other nutrients, they cause less effective initial breakdown of food, and they limit the release of pancreatic digestive enzymes.

Stomach acid also helps protect against pathogens. Less acid means less defense, and more undigested food fuels pathogen growth still more—leading back to digestive issues and nutritional deficits.
Although I do have supplement protocols to help wean clients off of PPIs, sometimes they must take them. In that case, I’ll provide a protocol for digestive and nutritional support.

Nearly all my clients take some type of medication, which is why I take a careful history including medication use. I can work with people to reduce the negative effects of medication, help them to wean off or reduce the amount of medication needed, or offer non-pharmaceutical, effective alternatives in many cases. Understanding the complex inter-relationships between medications, nutrients, and physiological function is key.