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Hope for Holiday Heartburn

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Plant based diet helps reduce reflux

December is a joyful time of year filled with friends, family and holiday treats, but for those with a condition called reflux, it can be a time filled with discomfort. There are two types of reflux, laryngopharyngeal reflux where stomach acid backs up into the back of the throat at the level of the laryngopharynx (aka silent reflux or LPR) and gastro-esophageal acid reflux where gastric contents backflow into the esophagus which leads to tissue damage or heartburn also known as GERD.

A study published in the medical journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, found that patients who consumed a >90% plant based, Mediterranean-style diet with alkaline water had the same if not better results in reducing symptoms than those on a traditional proton pump inhibitor (PPI) regimen.  All participants followed standard reflux precautions such as avoiding “trigger” foods like caffeine and carbonated beverages as well as lifestyle changes such as avoiding smoking and eating slowly.  To measure improvement, participants were evaluated using the Reflux Symptom Index (RSI) at baseline and evaluated again 6 weeks after treatment.    

The idea that plant based diets can be used to help treat chronic diseases isn’t new which is why researchers from Northwell Health’s The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and New York Medical College gave it a try.  Their findings are exciting because they provide an alternative to the standard PPI treatment which is costly and can have unintended sides effects.  They also believe this approach shows promise to provide relief to those experiencing GERD. 

If you are one of the 15 million people that the American Gastrointestinal Society estimate experience heartburn, or if you’re prone to “holiday heartburn”, here are some things to keep in mind

We suggest these recipes for your next holiday gathering: 

Holiday Salad Wreath , Arugula-Stuffed Pear, Roast Turkey Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

Note:  While the jury is still out on the overall benefits of alkaline water, this study shows that it may be helpful to those experiencing reflux. We need more research to confirm the safety and efficacy of alkaline water, but for now it seems to be a treatment tactic without adverse side effects.

Published December 1, 2017

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