When suffering from the intense and uncomfortable burning sensation of acid reflux in your throat, it's tempting to reach for your packet of anti-reflux medication, but a new study suggests you could be better placed switching-up your diet.
According to study published in JAMA Otolaryngology, the effects of acid reflux in throat could be reduced by eating a Mediterranean diet, just as effectively as Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) – medication that reduce the amount of acid made by your stomach.
A Mediterranean diet largely comprises of fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, whole grains and olive oil, and reduced amounts of red meat and dairy, and is considered one of the healthiest diet-types in the world.
The scientists looked at laryngopharyngeal reflux, not gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The latter is triggered by too much acid concentrated in the stomach and lower oesophagus. Laryngopharyngeal reflux is similar to GERD, but the symptoms vary slightly. With this kind of reflux, your oesophageal sphincter doesn't work and stomach acid backs up in to your throat or voice box.
The lead author of the study, Dr Craig Zalvan, medical director of the institute for voice and swallowing disorders at Phelps Hospital of Northwell Health in New York, told TIME that you're not supposed to have acid in your throat, as such "the tissues there have poor protection against acid and pepsin."
For the research, the team compared 85 people with laryngopharyngeal reflux who were treated with PPIs with 99 people with the condition who ate a Mediterranean diet and drank alkaline water. All participants were told to avoid food and drink that trigger acid reflux, including: coffee, spicy foods and alcohol. You can find about other triggers here.
The team found those who adopted a Mediterranean diet reduced their symptoms (marginally) more than those taking PIPs.
Dr Zalvan explained:
"These results really show that you can treat people with a diet-based approach using a plant-based diet… If you take all patients with LPR and put them on a plant-based diet with alkaline water, the majority do get better. And they stop their drugs, which overall leads to much better health."
According to TIME, the doctor advocates a plant-based diet for laryngopharyngeal reflux sufferers because plant proteins are largely digested in the intestine, not the stomach.
He and his team plan to study plant-based diet and alkaline water's effects on acid reflux further, including GERD.
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