Plant-based Diet Ends Reflux Better Than Prilosec

Acid reflux, plant-based diet

Heartburn is a dietary condition that plagues more than seven million Americans a year. It is a diet-related disease strongly linked to obesity and poor diet. Adopting a plant-based diet ends reflux better than Prilosec and other PPI medications which have negatively been linked to dangerous side effects.

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A study published online in JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery looked at close to 200 patients diagnosed with laryngopharyngeal reflux.

With laryngopharyngeal reflux. stomach acids continually back up into the throat. This is distinct from gastroesophageal reflux disease -- GERD, or what most people know as heartburn.

People with laryngopharyngeal reflux usually don't have heartburn, according to Dr Craig Zalvan, the lead researcher on the new study.

Instead, they present symptoms such as hoarseness, chronic sore throat, persistent coughing, excessive throat clearing and a feeling of a lump in the throat.

Still, the condition is often treated with the same drugs used for GERD -- proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs include prescription and over-the-counter drugs like Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium which have been linked to heart attack, kidney disease, dementia and bone fractures.

“PPIs do help some people with laryngopharyngeal reflux”, said Zalvan. Chief of otolaryngology at Northwell Health System's Phelps Hospital, in Sleepy Hollow, New York, who would prescribe them regularly, then noted, studies began raising concerns that PPIs are not as safe as thought.

More: The Real Reason Wannabe Vegans Can't Let Go Of Cheese

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Plant-based Diet vs. Medication

Dr Zalvan, decided to go back to basics and begin using a "dietary approach" to ease symptoms of laryngopharyngeal reflux instead or prescribing PPI medications and the results were awe inspiring.

Based on research into diet and chronic illnesses, Zalvan began advising his patients to go 90% plant-based – eating mainly vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and nuts. Meat and dairy were to be limited to two or three modest servings per week and coffee, tea, alcohol and fried or fatty foods were to be avoided.

For the new study, Zalvan's team looked back at patient records to see how that diet approach fared against using PPI medications.

The research focused on 85 patients who were treated with PPIs and standard diet advice between 2010 and 2012, and 99 who'd been advised to go mostly vegetarian.

When it came to treating the patients' symptoms, "the diet was as good, if not better than, PPIs", Zalvan said.

After six weeks, 63% of patients on the diet were showing at least a 6-point drop on a scale called the reflux symptom index. That's considered a "clinically meaningful" improvement, Zalvan noted.

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