Have Diabetes? Taking Antacids Might Help You Manage Your Blood Sugar

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Key Takeaways

  • About 10.5% of the U.S. population has diabetes.
  • A new study shows that taking a certain type of antacid called proton pump inhibitors might help some people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels.
  • Not everyone with diabetes should take PPIs, but there are other ways that people with the condition can improve their blood sugar levels.

According to a new study, certain antacids called proton pump inhibitors may help some people manage their diabetes.

“Often, commonly used medications may have subtle effects which may not be detected for years,” Dr. Kashif Munir, associate professor in the division of endocrinology, diabetes, and nutrition at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and an investigator on the study, tells Verywell.

Munir says that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) “are used by millions of people and small studies have shown possible benefits in patients with diabetes"—including his team's research.

What Are Antacids?

To get the nutrients from the foods that we eat, our bodies need to be able to break them down and use them for energy. One way that the body facilitates this process is by producing acid in the stomach, which helps to break down the bonds naturally found in food.

For some people, stomach acid backs up into their esophagus, causing pain, discomfort, and a burning sensation (heartburn). To manage these symptoms, people can try sitting upright and avoiding certain acidic foods, but they also commonly take antacids.

Many common over-the-counter (OTC) antacids are made with minerals like calcium, magnesium, and/or aluminum that neutralize the stomach acid. There is also another class of antacids called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) target acidity in a different way. 

PPIs prevent too much stomach acid from entering the stomach in the first place. They do this by blocking certain cells from “pumping” the acid, thereby reducing how much acid the stomach has.

In many cases, having less stomach acid means less gastroesophageal pain and discomfort. PPIs can also be used to help with other ailments like stomach ulcers.

How Antacids May Help Manage Blood Sugars

In addition to helping people manage symptoms of acid reflux, the new study, which was published in Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, shows that PPIs might also help people with diabetes manage their condition.

Up to 10.5% of the United States' population has diabetes. When poorly managed, people with diabetes experience complications like vision problems, kidney failure, and cardiovascular disease.

Traditionally, people with diabetes have been advised to manage their blood sugars by modifying their diet, including physical activity in their life, and potentially taking certain medication. In the new meta-analysis, the researchers highlight how taking an OTC PPI may help people manage their blood glucose levels.

After evaluating 12 trials, the researchers found that combining PPIs with standard therapy for managing diabetes resulted in a decrease in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) and fasting blood glucose levels. Both of these measures suggest better glucose control in patients with diabetes.

Carol Chiung-Hui Peng, an endocrinology clinical fellow at Boston University and one of the study's investigators, tells Verywell that “PPI's increase gastrin levels, which in turn improve insulin secretion and thereby lower blood glucose."

The researchers also noted that PPI use did not reduce the risk of developing diabetes in those without the diagnosis.

“Our study was able to compile the existing data on PPI use and diabetes and give more robust evidence that PPIs can lower blood glucose,” Huei-Kai Huang, a physician-scientist in Family Medicine at Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital in Taiwan and an investigator of the current study, tells Verywell. 

Huang adds that “despite compiling existing data, the number of total patients was still small." Therefore, more data is needed before blanket recommendations are made regarding PPI use and diabetes management.

Should Everyone With Diabetes Take PPIs?

While taking PPIs might offer some blood sugar management benefits to people with diabetes, Huang says that patients should know that there are also some potential side effects associated with long-term PPI use, including increased fracture risk, electrolyte imbalance, and kidney disease.

Munir adds that “given the potential risks related to long-term PPIs use, we would not recommend patients with diabetes to take PPIs when there are no gastroesophageal indications. The risks and benefits for the long-term use of PPI should be assessed by doctors before initiation.” 

Tips For Managing Diabetes

Not every person with diabetes should take PPIs, but there are other ways that people can work on improving their blood sugar levels through making changes to their diet and lifestyle, as well as talking to their doctor about other medications.

Ways that people with diabetes can improve their blood glucose levels include:

  • Limiting added sugars
  • Choosing whole grains instead of refined grains
  • Avoiding sugary drinks like regular soda and sweetened iced teas
  • Participating in regular, moderate exercise
  • Getting quality and adequate sleep
  • Limiting alcohol consumption and never drinking alcohol on an empty stomach
  • Taking any prescription medications exactly as prescribed

If you have diabetes and a condition like acid reflux or a stomach ulcer, talk to your doctor about whether a PPI could be a treatment option for you.

What This Means For You

Some people with diabetes may benefit from taking a type of antacid called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)—particularly if they also have stomach conditions like acid reflux or ulcers.

Not everyone with diabetes should take a PPI, but there are other ways that

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Peng CC, Tu YK, Lee GY, et al. Effects of Proton Pump Inhibitors on Glycemic Control and Incident Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2021 Jun 30:dgab353. doi:10.1210/clinem/dgab353

  2. American Diabetes Association. Statistics About Diabetes.

  3. American Diabetes Association. Complications.