Acid Reflux Patients Get Break From Restrictive Diets

Diet and Nutrition | Articles

If you’ve been diagnosed with acid reflux or have frequent heartburn and thought you had to give up all the foods you love, there is good news. A recent study conducted at Stanford University reports that there is “insufficient evidence” that avoiding chocolate, spicy foods, mint, citrus, fatty foods, carbonated beverages, coffee, or that late night meal will relieve GERD-associated heartburn.

Instead, the study showed that the most effective measures for people with heartburn caused by gastro esophageal reflux disease, commonly referred to as GERD, are: losing weight and elevating the head of the bed.

GERD is a common disease affecting millions, in which a sphincter muscle between the esophagus and stomach relaxes, causing digestive juices from the stomach to seep up into the esophagus. This leads to heartburn and other symptoms.

The study was conducted by Dr. Lauren B. Gerson of Stanford University after continually seeing patients unhappy because their referring physicians had instructed them to go on very restricted diets. These bland diets, while adversely affecting their quality of life, didn’t eliminate heartburn symptoms.
Study results did show evidence that smoking, alcohol usage, chocolate and a person’s position when lying down will increase acid in the esophagus and worsen heartburn symptoms, but the evidence didn’t support the theory that avoiding all of these agents will cause heartburn to go away.

Dr. Gerson has started telling her patients, especially those on medication for heartburn, to go ahead and eat regular diets. She still suggests that if a person’s heartburn symptoms worsen after consuming a particular food or drink, avoid that item to see if symptoms improve. But if the heartburn fails to go away completely after giving up –say, red wine — that patient likely needs to be taking medication for symptom relief.

SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, May 2006

Spicy foods made with pepper, cumin, basal, oregano as well as many others have great health benefits. This research helps us move back to these healthy foods without concern. Although, it is not vindication for eating fast food or having poor overall diet which may even be the cause of slow digestion and GERD symptoms. I don’t want you to use this article as a way to put your health in danger with bad choices.

God Bless,
Dr. Benzinger

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