Treating Reflux With Diet

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A small study has found that a plant-based diet is just as effective as proton pump inhibitors in treating laryngopharyngeal reflux, or LPR.

LPR is a disease in which stomach acid comes up into the throat to the level of the laryngopharynx. It is not the same as gastro-esophageal reflux, or GERD, which involves a backflow of stomach acid into the lower esophagus.

The retrospective study, in JAMA Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, included 85 patients with an average age of 60 treated with the P.P.I.s Nexium and Dexilant, and 99 treated with alkaline water and the Mediterranean diet, a regimen low in meat and dairy, and rich in olive oil, nuts, fish, beans, fruits and vegetables. The study ran for six weeks.

The scientists used an index that measures severity of symptoms — excess throat mucus, annoying cough, heartburn and others — on a zero to 45-point scale.

In the P.P.I. group, 54 percent achieved a clinically significant six point reduction on the index, compared with 63 percent for the diet cohort. The average score reduction was 27 percent for those in the P.P.I. group and 40 percent for the dieters.

“If you think you have LPR, you should do a diet-based approach, instead of initiating these drugs that have potential side effects,” said the lead author, Dr. Craig H. Zalvan, chief of otolaryngology at Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. “A lot of patients with GERD symptoms also get better on the diet.”