Mediterranean-style diet may eliminate need for reflux medications

September 7, 2017, Northwell Health's Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
Credit: Wikipedia.

A plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet has been shown to provide the same medical benefits for treating laryngopharyngeal reflux as popular reflux medications. This is according to a study published today in JAMA Otolaryngology Head Neck Surgery by researchers from Northwell Health's The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and New York Medical College.

When compared to patients who took the traditional , proton pump inhibitors (PPI), those patients who consumed a 90-95% whole food, plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet paired with alkaline water had the same if not better reduction in reflux symptoms. 62.6 percent of patients treated with a plant-based diet and alkaline water saw a six point reduction in their Reflux Symptom Index (RSI - a measurement for the severity of reflux symptoms), compared to 54.1 percent reduction in patients taking PPI's. Though this research only focused on those with laryngopharyngeal reflux, this same diet regimen has implications to help patients with gastro-esophageal acid reflux (also known as GERD).

Lead author of the study, Craig H. Zalvan, MD, FACS, chief of Otolaryngology and medical director of The Institute for Voice and Swallowing Disorders at Northwell Health's Phelps Hospital and researcher at the Feinstein Institute, said he was formerly one of the largest prescribers of PPI's in the region. Feeling that there had to be a better approach to treating reflux conditions like laryngopharyngeal reflux, he started to research alternatives.

"Although effective in some patients, I felt medication couldn't be the only method to treat reflux and recent studies reporting increased rates of stroke and heart attack, dementia and kidney damage from prolonged PPI use made me more certain," said Dr. Zalvan. "I did research and saw a lot of studies using plant-based diets to treat patients for many other chronic diseases, so I decided to develop a diet regimen to treat my laryngopharyngeal reflux patients. The results we found show we are heading in the right direction to treating reflux without medication."

The diet suggested by Dr. Zalvan consists of mostly fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts with near complete cessation of dairy and meats including beef, chicken, fish, eggs and pork. This is in addition to standard reflux diet precautions like avoiding coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, greasy and fried food, spicy foods, fatty foods and alcohol. Along with relieving reflux symptoms, Dr. Zalvan noted that many of his patients who were treated with a plant-based also experienced some weight loss and a reduction of symptoms and medication use from other medical conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Dr. Zalvan said that a approach with alkaline water and standard reflux precautions should either be attempted prior to the use of medication or with the short-term use of medication for more severe needs.

"Dr. Zalvan's approach of challenging assumptions in treatment norms epitomizes our view of medical research at the Feinstein Institute and Northwell Health," said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institute. "We are committed to developing novel strategies to benefit our in a way that positively impacts medical practice globally."

Explore further: Rx improves nasal symptoms in laryngopharyngeal reflux

More information: JAMA Otolaryngology Head Neck Surgery, jamanetwork.com/journals/jamao … 01/jamaoto.2017.1454

Related Stories

Rx improves nasal symptoms in laryngopharyngeal reflux

March 14, 2017
(HealthDay)—For patients with laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), anti-reflux medication is associated with improvement in nasal parameters, according to a study published online March 9 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

HRQoL down for GERD with laryngopharyngeal reflux

January 9, 2017
(HealthDay)—For patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the presence of laryngopharyngeal reflux symptoms (LPR) is associated with reduced health-related quality of life (HRQoL), according to a study published ...

Surgery most effective for persistent heartburn and reflux

April 19, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Surgery is more effective than medicine at providing relief from the symptoms of persistent heartburn and reflux, a University of Aberdeen-led study has found.

How safe are heartburn medications and who should use them?

August 10, 2017
Many people suffer regularly from heartburn - a burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid travelling up the food pipe (oesophagus) after eating. This causes inflammation and irritation of the lower oesophagus, and ...

Prevalence of acid reflux has increased by half over the past decade

January 5, 2012
The prevalence of acid reflux experienced at least once a week has increased by almost 50%  over the past decade, NTNU researchers report in a long term study of almost 80,000 people published online in Gut.

Recommended for you

Ambitious global virome project could mark end of pandemic era

February 23, 2018
Rather than wait for viruses like Ebola, SARS and Zika to become outbreaks that force the world to react, a new global initiative seeks to proactively identify, prepare for and stop viral threats before they become pandemics.

Forecasting antibiotic resistance with a 'weather map' of local data

February 23, 2018
The resistance that infectious microbes have to antibiotics makes it difficult for physicians to confidently select the right drug to treat an infection. And that resistance is dynamic: It changes from year to year and varies ...

Study reveals how kidney disease happens

February 22, 2018
Monash researchers have solved a mystery, revealing how certain immune cells work together to instigate autoimmune kidney disease.

Scientists gain new insight on how antibodies interact with widespread respiratory virus

February 22, 2018
Scientists have found and characterized the activity of four antibodies produced by the human immune system that target an important protein found in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to new research published ...

Past encounters with the flu shape vaccine response

February 20, 2018
New research on why the influenza vaccine was only modestly effective in recent years shows that immune history with the flu influences a person's response to the vaccine.

Building better tiny kidneys to test drugs and help people avoid dialysis

February 16, 2018
A free online kidney atlas built by USC researchers empowers stem cell scientists everywhere to generate more human-like tiny kidneys for testing new drugs and creating renal replacement therapies.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gzurbay
not rated yet Sep 09, 2017
The success of Dr. Zalvan's diet may well owe it's effect on the fact that it favors the "good" or beneficial bacteria, dis-advantaging "bad" bacteria which produce a disease promoting metabolite causing inflammation or promoting dis-biosis to a similar end. The pain and/or irritation is less likely to be the result of stomach acid absent another factor i.e. a metabolite acting as as an irritant in the presence of stomach acid.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.