Mediterranean Diet Just As Good As Drugs In Controlling Acid Reflux Symptoms


Researchers compared the effects of a Mediterranean diet and traditional medication on people who have been diagnosed with laryngopharyngeal reflux. The Mediterranean diet showed promising results in reducing symptoms of the condition.

Acid Reflux

Laryngopharyngeal reflux is also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and acid reflux. It is a condition wherein stomach acids leak back up into the throat, causing symptoms such as persistent coughing, excessive throat clearing, the feeling of having a lump in the throat, and hoarseness. While it is not a life-threatening condition, it can be very uncomfortable.

Often, doctors treat the condition with proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), which are simply over-the-counter drugs that reduce the amount of acid in the stomach. Some, however, suggest the less traditional approach of simply switching to the Mediterranean diet for a period along with consuming only alkaline water in place of other beverages.

Medication And Diet

To test the effectiveness of the treatments, researchers from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai and The Institute for Voice and Swallowing Disorders, New York Medical College, and Phelps Hospital studied the medical records of two sets of participants diagnosed with GERD.

The first set of participants consisted of 85 individuals with an average age of 60, all of whom were diagnosed with GERD between 2010 and 2012. All of them were given traditional PPI medication and asked to remove spicy food items, coffee, tea, chocolate, fizzy beverages, alcohol, and greasy, fried, and fatty food items from their diet.

The second set of participants consisted of 99 patients who, instead of being treated with PPIs, were instructed to follow a 90 percent plant-based Mediterranean diet and to replace all beverages with alkaline water. This means they could only consume any animal-based products 10 percent of the time at about two or three times per week.

Mediterranean Diet Success

The outcomes of the two treatments were measured using the Reflux Symptom Index (RSI), which measures how many symptoms a person has and how troublesome they are.

What researchers found was that while the patients treated with PPIs recorded a significant reduction of 27.2 percent in their RSI, the patients who were given the Mediterranean diet recorded a 39.3 percent reduction in their RSI.

The data suggest that the traditional medication is not necessarily better in treating GERD than the Mediterranean diet. The difference between the two treatments is statistically significant, and researchers believe that the results show how the Mediterranean diet and alkaline water diet is worth trying.

Apart from the fact that the diet improves the symptoms of GERD more effectively, it also does not yield the side effects that medications do. What's more, the patients could also attain the health benefits of a healthy, plant-based diet.

The study is published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

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