The combination of the popular Mediterranean diet and alkaline water may be the key to relieving the symptoms of laryngopharyngeal reflux, which is better known as acid reflux. A study published on Thursday suggested eating the plant-based diet, coupled with drinking alkaline water, might be just as effective as traditional medication.
For the study, researchers divided patients suffering from acid reflux into two groups. The first group continued to take drugs known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), used most often for treatment of the condition. The second group was asked to eat meals according to the Mediterranean diet. They also replaced their normal drinks with alkaline water.
After six weeks, both groups experienced a "clinically meaningful" reduction of symptoms. While the study only had 184 participants, the results strongly suggest that taking drugs is not substantially better than just changing eating habits, particularly following the Mediterranean diet.
According to ABC News, some vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts, and whole grains are known to relieve acid reflux. In addition, reducing the amount of coffee, alcohol, soda, spicy foods, and chocolate can also prevent acid reflux from occurring.
Acid reflux occurs when acid from the stomach moves up into the throat and irritates the lining of the esophagus. Symptoms of the condition include chronic sore throat, insistent coughing, and hoarseness. Most people with acid reflux do not experience heartburn as some might expect, said lead researcher Dr. Craig Zalvan.
Currently, common PPIs like Prilosec, Prevacid, and Nexium are generally recommended for symptoms of acid reflux. The drugs are designed to neutralize acid in the stomach. However, past research has suggested long-term use of acid reflux medications can lead to heart and kidney problems, as well as dementia.
Based on the Mediterranean diet study, Dr. Zalvan plans to start recommending plant-based meals to his acid reflux patients. For reduction of symptoms, "the diet was as good, if not better than, PPIs," Dr. Zalvan explained.
"I did research and saw a lot of studies using plant-based diets to treat patients for many other chronic diseases, so I decided to develop a diet regimen to treat my laryngopharyngeal reflux patients," Zalvan said, as cited by the Daily Mail.
Not only did the study participants get acid reflux relief, but they also lost weight. The patients who consumed the Mediterranean diet along with alkaline water saw their weight drop by an average of eight pounds. Additionally, the patients' weight-loss may have also helped in the lessening of symptoms.
Not treated properly, acid reflux can permanently damage the esophagus and lead to longstanding health problems. The Mediterranean diet study was published September 7 in the journal, JAMA Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery.
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