WARNING: Your acid reflux drug is destroying good belly bugs

The calendar has turned to a new page -- and with that, the holiday season is officially over.

Tomorrow morning, everyone goes back to work and life returns to normal. For some folks, that's a huge relief. Because all of the Christmas and New Year's merriment can leave you with a guest that lingers long after the holidays.

Acid reflux.

If you're among the folks who suffer from this condition, you don't need me to tell you how bad it can get. Some people will try just about anything for a little relief, even the proton pump inhibitors I've warned you about over the years.

These drugs have gotten so popular because they really do deliver on the promise of quick relief.

But that comfort comes at a huge price.

One new study confirms what we've seen before: These drugs kill off many of the good bacteria that live in your gut, exposing you to a risk of serious and even fatal infection.

These good bugs are your first -- and, in some cases, only -- line of defense against dangerous bacteria such as clostridium difficile and the bacterial form of pneumonia.

These infections often strike when there are imbalances in gut bacteria, most commonly after you take an antibiotic. But the new study finds that PPI drugs can have a similar effect in your gut, killing off the good bacteria and setting the stage for an infection that could turn into a battle for your life.

And that's not the only way PPIs can hurt you.

These meds can block the absorption of nutrients such as calcium and magnesium. In fact, PPIs block magnesium so effectively that even supplements won't help many patients.

The end result is that your hip fracture risk skyrockets by 31 percent and you're at increased risk of a dangerous irregular heartbeat. Even the FDA is warning PPI users about this danger.

The good news is that there are safer and more effective solutions for stomach acid problems, but the one that works best for you will depend on the cause. And in most cases, the cause is NOT too much stomach acid.

In many patients, reflux is related to food sensitivities. A holistic physician can run some tests to determine which foods might be causing your problems so you can avoid them and stop the flare-ups before they start.

For complete food allergy testing in Southern California, make an appointment to see me at my clinic in the San Diego area.

And if you're not in the area, I'm also available by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to arrange a consultation.