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Best Foods for Acid Reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is one of the most common disorders of the digestive tract. The two most typical symptoms are heartburn and regurgitation of stomach contents into the back of the throat, but GERD is not just burning pain and a sour taste in your mouth. It causes millions of doctor visits and hospitalizations every year in the United States. The most feared complication is cancer. 

You start out with a normal esophagus. If the acid keeps creeping up, your esophagus can get inflamed and result in esophagitis. Esophagitis can transform into Barrett’s esophagus, a precancerous condition which can then turn into adenocarcinoma (a type of cancer). To prevent all that, we need to prevent the acid reflux in the first place.

In the last three decades, the incidence of this cancer in the US has increased six-fold, an increase greater than that of melanoma, breast, or prostate cancer. This is because acid reflux is on the rise. In the United States, we’re up to about 1 in 4 people suffering at least weekly heartburn and/or acid regurgitation, compared to around 5% in Asia. This suggests that dietary factors may play a role.

In general, high fat intake is associated with increased risk, whereas high fiber foods appear to be protective. The reason fat intake may be associated with GERD symptoms and erosive esophagitis is because when we eat fatty foods, the sphincter at the top of the stomach that’s supposed to keep the food down becomes relaxed; so, more acid can creep up into the esophagus. In my video Diet & GERD Acid Reflux Heartburn, you can see a study in which researchers fed volunteers a high-fat meal—a McDonald’s sausage and egg McMuffin—compared to a low-fat meal (McDonald’s hot cakes), and there was significantly more acid squirted up in the esophagus after the high-fat meal.

In terms of later stages of disease progression, over the last twenty years, 45 studies have been published on the association between diet and Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer. In general, they found that meat and high-fat meals appeared to increase cancer risk. Different meats were associated with cancers in different locations, though. Red meat was more associated with cancer in the esophagus, whereas poultry was more associated with cancer at the top of the stomach. Plant-based sources of protein, such as beans and nuts, were associated with a significantly decreased risk of cancer.

Those eating the most antioxidant-rich foods have half the odds of esophageal cancer, while there is practically no reduction in risk among those who used antioxidant vitamin supplements, such as vitamin C or E pills. The most protective produce may be red-orange vegetables, dark green leafies, berries, apples, and citrus. The benefit may come from more than just eating plants. Eating healthy foods crowds out less healthy foods; so, it may be a combination of both.

Based on a study of 3,000 people, the consumption of non-vegetarian foods (including eggs) was an independent predictor of GERD. Egg yolks cause an increase in the hormone cholecystokinin, which may overly relax the sphincter that separates the esophagus from the stomach. The same hormone is increased by meat, which may help explain why plant-based diets appear to be a protective factor for reflux esophagitis.

Researchers found that those eating meat had twice the odds of reflux-induced esophageal inflammation. Therefore, plant-based diets may offer protection, though it’s uncertain whether it’s attributable to the absence of meat in the diet or the increased consumption of healthy foods. Those eating vegetarian consume greater amounts of fruits and vegetables containing innumerable phytochemicals, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. They also restrict their consumption of animal sources of food, which tend to be fattier and can thus relax that sphincter and aggravate reflux.

GERD is common; its burdens are enormous. It relapses frequently and can cause bleeding, strictures, and a deadly cancer. The mainstay of treatment is proton pump inhibitor drugs, which rake in billions of dollars. We spend four billion dollars on Nexium alone, three billion on Prevacid, two billion on Protonix, one billion on Aciphex. These drugs can cause nutrient deficiencies and increase the risk for pneumonia, food poisoning, and bone fractures. Thus, it is important to find correctable risk factors and correct them. Known correctable risk factors have been things like obesity, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Until recently, though, there hadn’t been studies on specifically what to eat and what to avoid, but now we have other correctable factors to help prevent this disease.

For more on GERD, see: Diet & Hiatal HerniaCoffee & Mortality, and Club Soda for Stomach Pain & Constipation.

I also have a video about esophageal cancer, detailing the extraordinary reversal of the kinds of precancerous changes that lead to the devastating condition—with nothing but strawberries: Strawberries versus Esophageal Cancer.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


82 responses to “Best Foods for Acid Reflux

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  1. Having H. pylori infection is associated with a decreased risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma. How
    does a Whole Foods Plant Based diet impact H. pylori infection?




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    1. Hello George,
      Thank you for your question. I am a family doctor with a private practice in lifestyle medicine, and also a volunteer moderator for this website. I just looked on PubMed (free database of medical articles) and found that you are correct that some observational studies have found that H. pylori infection is associated with lower risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma, as discussed in this study: http://www.cancerepidemiology.net/article/S1877-7821(16)30038-8/fulltext. Reference #60 in this paper is a whole monograph about H. pylori infection (52 pages), in case you’re interested: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol100B/mono100B-15.pdf

      However, there are two big caveats to this. One is that observational studies do not prove causation. The other is that H. pylori is pretty much proven to be a major cause of gastric (stomach) cancer, as discussed in this recent review paper: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5331857/

      On top of that, H. pylori is well known to cause gastritis, and reflux, which are extremely uncomfortable (I can personally attest to this).

      So I would absolutely NOT advise patients to look for ways to get infected with H. pylori, if that what you are suggesting with your question.

      Regarding your specific question about how a WFPB diet impacts H. pylori infection, I did not find anything specific. However, Dr. Greger has done several good videos about the importance of a high-fiber, plant based diet in maintaining a healthy gut flora. This one is particularly good: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/prebiotics-tending-our-inner-garden/

      I hope this helps answer your question.




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  2. B”H

    I have advocated for PBWF diet for friends with GERD. One was unwilling to do this so I said to him, if you do nothing else please have a bowl of miso soup (even minus sea and land vegetables) in the morning and evening. I said it was important to use non-pasteurized organic miso so that the live bacteria can help your cillae and intestines do their job. Lo and hehold the GERD completely disappeared with no change to his diet. I almost don’t like sharing this except organic non-pasteurized miso is a lot better than the pharmaceutical alternatives.




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  3. A site like Nutrition Authority is one of the last things on the Internet that seems to know anything about nutrition yet they wrote an article criticizing “How Not To Die” by Dr Greger.
    I attempted to comment on the article but the site banned me from ever commenting again.

    I really doubt many readers of this site would waste their time looking at that site but I mention it so that you are forewarned…

    Thank you again Dr Greger for the good information and videos that you generously share with us.




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    1. I researched Denise Minger after I read her article of Dr G. Then I did a little research on her educational background. I couldn’t find any. She is a failed vegan and I think she is into justifying herself so she can continue selling books and collecting clients.




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      1. Good work Joan but the general problem is that sites like that one continue to flood the Internet with bad information and many consumers are confused.

        Someone that eats six eggs a day does not die immediately but goes on the Internet and loudly proclaims to be healthy because of those eggs. And it could be that someone in human history lived to be 95 eating six eggs a day.

        Most people are not well-trained in science and even fewer in nutrition so the Internet, especially the comments and a few fad diets, are continuing to confuse the people that are easily swayed and so the yo-yo dieting continues, billions spent on diets and 67% of the population overweight and sick.

        The obesity and sickness is world-wide. Currently I live in the Far East and the change in the last 12 years is plain unbelievable. I really do not think it is the white rice as so many suggest because in the 1960s people in China, Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines were very thin eating loads of white rice. Today most are overweight and many are obese, even children. They still eat much more rice than I do at a meal and they have it usually three times a day. However, I personally think the addition of processed foods,sugar,salt and meat are what is really making the difference.




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    2. The Internet nowdays is full of “fake news” & blogs tuned to what specific groups want to hear.

      I stumbled upon Nutritionfacts.org on Youtube by accident. It’s message was not something I wanted to believe, but the evidence is presented so factually it is hard to ignore. You can even use the pause button to get the title and publisher of the science papers to read them yourself…

      Dr. Greger is so passionate about what he believes that some bias is bound to occur, but at least the information presented is not opinion based like much of the web. I think the team at Nutritionfacts.org could make this site even better by discussing papers that counter the plant based diet argument. For example this one that received all kinds of press recently: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2017/05/10/study-finds-good-news-for-cheese-lovers.html

      By the news cover it seems a perfect example of telling people what they want to hear. So what say you Dr. Greger, time for us all to go out for some cheese?




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      1. Ron the article you cited stated that no study found detrimental health issues with cheese and milk.

        It is clear that the study is faulty by looking at the numerous studies that found drinking milk led to weak bones and other issues like prostate cancer.

        I do not care to research your article to the point that I know which 13 studies they looked at. Maybe then cherry-picked the studies they looked at but in any case I will continue avoiding all dairy till a valid study proves me wrong…




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      2. Ron, forgive the typo but it was 29 studies they looked at, not 13. Did you take note of the Dairy funding for this study?

        I noticed that the time of observation in these studies is not long enough to detect cancer or even dying from heart disease. However, the time could have been more clear by including units. Maybe somewhere they did say if the time was seconds, hours, days or years but even if years the studies were not long enough.

        However, given the source of funding I have no intention to look at that study further.




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        1. Richard, thank you for your good observations. Another question I’d have to the results that cheese doesn’t increase the risk of heart attack is compared to what? Someone who eats a hamburger vs someone who eats a cheeseburger?

          I’m new here and am in the process of moving to a whole foods, plant based diet. If I did not view information with both skepticism and an open mind I’d never have found this site or be open to what it says.

          The point I would like to make is if there is a nutritional study that says animal food A is good for reason B, I’d like to hear about it, even if only to point out the flaws of the study or to point out that the risks may outweigh the benefit. If the message here only revolves around information Vegans want to hear it runs the risk of becoming irrelevant.

          I think this is what Denise Minger tried to say in her long winded article. She also mentioned, and I have found, Dr. Greger does mention caveats, but they can be hard to find. Ironically although billed as a critical review of “How Not to Die” it actually ends with a conclusion that the book is a good read.

          Ultimately as Dr. Greger’s effort evolves he needs to decide if his message is to make vegans feel good about themselves or convince those on the Standard American Diet to eat more healthfully. There is no reason he cannot do both, but for us omnivores trying to change, ignoring contrary data makes us suspicious.




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          1. There are more than enough sites supporting meat, dairy and fish. Many even support oils like olive and coconut.

            I am happy to spend time on Dr Greger’s site to learn what is the best thing to be consuming. My body reflects what I consume primarily. What I do not consume does not impact my body unless it is something good for it which will show up on this site.

            However, I do not think your comment truly reflects this site. There are many videos and articles on criticizing poor studies that result in poor recommendations.

            Between “How Not To Die” and this site you can gather facts why consuming meat, fish, eggs, dairy, salt, and processed foods is not the best way to have a long and healthy life.




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      3. Hi, Ron! Welcome to NutritionFacts! We’re so glad you found us! The studies you mention have been discussed exhaustively here, as you will find if you follow the links on this page:
        https://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=cheese&fwp_content_type=video
        You are correct that people love to hear good news about their bad habits, and that a lot of so-called nutrition advice on the web is based on opinions, and not facts. Since you raised the issue of bias, it is important to note that many of the articles, such as the one you mention, are conducted and/or funded by those who have a financial interest in promoting certain food products. Dr. Greger and NutritionFacts have no financial ties to any food industry group. I hope that helps!




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    1. Why not use a plant based protein powder if u must use a protein powder? You can buy them unflavoured and add your own flavouring or flavoured or in a blend. There’s some decent ones out there now.




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      1. I am a 76 yr old pensioner. The PB powders are in abundance on Amazon but are twice as expensive as the Whey based I buy in bulk at Costco. I may bite the bullet and absorb the cost if I learn the animal protein negates the benefits of my PB diet. That’s what I’m trying to find out. I eat NO meat or dairy. Sent from the Field, not in Garrison.




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            1. I read your question and then you stated ‘I eat NO meat or dairy.’ I was only pointing out that you do, in fact, eat dairy since whey comes from cheese production. Many of my own friends do not understand the correlation and make the same mistake when discussing their lactose-intolerance as they drink a whey protein shake.

              For your question, this is a video cited in response to a similar question regarding protein https://nutritionfacts.org/video/protein-intake-and-igf-1-production/ as well as this link http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein-strength.html




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              1. Sigh! My question states that I KNOW Whey is an animal product, that’s why I ask the question. I should have stated that I eat no meat or dairy except for the Whey powder. My question remains: “Do I negate (that means do I surrender) the benefits of abstaining from OTHER meat and dairy products because I ingest Whey powder. In other words, does whey powder, after processing, still contain the negative traits of meat and dairy or is it reduced to a neutral protein chain? But frankly, I’m tired of asking now, so please disregard altogether. I’ll just stumble on, thank you.




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                  1. Thank you Nancy. I watched both vids w great interest. The second one hinted at the core of my question when it referred to the ‘package’ nature of proteins- the fats,salts, etc. that come with the respective protein (animal vs. plant). So, am I consuming protein without the dairy ‘package’ when I take a whey protein shake? Have the detrimental parts of the ‘package been processed out? That’s what my hope is and that is probably the best way to pose my question. I’m 76, on no meds and do three hours of Zumba and six hours of Yoga weekly plus weight training three hours a week. I lost a great deal of muscle during an 18 month period (2014-2016) recuperating from a total knee replacement, a TURP Procedure and a malleable penal implant. I believe muscle mass is important for joint and overall health and don’t want to hamper my progress in that direction. I may not even need to supplement my protein intake, considering my diet, but I’ve been mixing one morning and evening anyway. I just don’t want to spend all day avoiding meat and dairy only to find I’m allowing dairy into my diet through the back door, so to speak, in my protein shake. Thank you for the information and your kind indulgence.




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                    1. Since you know that whey is dairy and animal protein it appears you want someone to say it is ok to do it because….

                      There is no because! It is dairy and animal protein so now the real question becomes how much animal protein may most people consume without offsetting the benefits of a whole plant-based diet.

                      The scientific answer to that question is likely 100 to 500 years in the future because there is no money in studying the problem. However, Dr Fuhrman suggest that 5% of your daily calories be the limit of animal protein. If you are consuming about 2000 calories a day that limit is 100 calories.

                      Mind you, Dr Fuhrman is not suggesting that as the final answer but rather as his suggested limit.




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                    2. thomas unge,

                      Whey protein is dairy. Period. Casein was the protein used in Dr Colin Campbell’s early experiments with rats, showing how he could turn cancer growth on by feeding the rats that milk protein and turn it off by withholding or cutting back to only 5% of calories from such protein. I don’t know if whey protein is largely casein or not, but I wouldn’t chance it.

                      If you eat enough variety (beans, whole grains, greens, etc.) in your WFPB diet you should be getting sufficient protein. Most Americans, even vegetarians and vegans, get quite a bit more protein than they need, according to Dr Campbell, and too much protein is dangerous.




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                    3. Hi Thomas – I followed your question and discussion with interest. There is some early research performed by Dr. Valter Longo at UC-Davis that indicates that individuals over 65 may benefit from increased protein consumption. You can view Dr. Long’s reference to this topic via his latest Youtube presentation:
                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgo5-5f3Q-Q&t=3s
                      Although this talk is more about the benefits of fasting he mentions the protein question. He is the Director of Gerontology and Aging in charge of research at UC-Davis. He also has a lab in his native Italy.
                      I, too, sometimes feel I do a little better with some more concentrated “protein”. I put protein in quotes because what we are actually talking about are amino acids as the body breaks down protein into its amino acid parts (digestion).
                      I, too, have periodically used pea protein and find it helpful. I also, more recently, use seitan which I make myself. Seitan is the protein from wheat and one can use it to make “wheat meat” which has been eaten by Monks for hundreds of years. It is extremely easy to make and use once you’ve run through it once or twice. 2C vital wheat gluten (any health food store) to 2C water, mix, cook. I have found that flavoring the water with any spices and umami flavorings (tomato paste, Colgins wood smoke – ok’d by Dr. Greger – nutritional yeast, onion and garlic powder, pepper, . . whatever you like) adds rich flavor to the seitan. It will make a loaf that will last numerous days in your fridge and can be used with any vegg meals.
                      Also, I have taken the vital wheat gluten and sprinkled it into soups which thicken and increase the protein value.
                      Just thought I’d share so that you can know that there is another alternative to additional protein in one’s diet that is still vegg if you’d rather not consume whey.
                      Thanks!




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                    4. Thank you so much for this information. I think I will continue with the protein powder twice daily. I’m trying to lose my intra-abdominal fat, so I don’t eat much ‘real food’. The shakes help assuage my appetite and I actually look forward to them as a meal. I also don’t eat as much fruit as I might and since my choice of Pea Protein is flavorless (cost), I plan to blend strawberries, banana, etc to make them more tasty; a win-win.




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              2. veg-runner: I understand what you mean. Once a woman, who knew I was WFPB, kept asking me over & over why she couldn’t lose weight even though she no longer ate meat or dairy. During the course of our conversation, she revealed that she loves to eat cheese & ate lots of it every day. During this tug-of-war argument, I realized she could not equate cheese with being a dairy product. She kept insisting that she had cut all dairy out of her diet because she no longer drank milk. She was so adamant about it that I had to tell her she was lying to herself about her dairy consumption. She had a confused look on face at first, but then she finally got it.




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        1. Your comment is likely correct for a person of normal activity but for those people that run marathons or lift weights for hours a day six times a week the extra protein in plant powder is better than having meat.




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  4. About 10 years ago I began having reflux. My naturopath said: “Reflux is an overweight problem and it’s a wheat problem.” I stopped wheat immediately and within three days there was no more reflux, and it has never returned.

    It took longer, but, after losing 40 pounds I was able to resume eating wheat without a problem.




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  5. I experienced GERD and angina myself, particularly after having high fat meals with coconut/olive oils. Initially, I thought I was having a heart attack because I felt a sharp pain in my chest and my blood pressure shot up. I went to the ER and was diagnosed with non-cardiac chest pain, which means the staff didn’t have a clue what caused it. Fortunately, I kept a diet journal and kept track of what I ate and when I had symptoms – this allowed me to figure out what caused the pain. I switched to a 90+% WFPB diet and never get these issues anymore unless I go out to eat some greasy fast food.




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  6. I can’t say I have had tremendous experiences with improved health since going vegan. It was a slow transition so the improvements weren’t so dramatic and obvious. But I always tell people that I have eliminated acid reflux, eliminated pimples, improved skin, no more white spots on my nails, better bowel movements. Acid reflux certainly seems linked to diet in my case.




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  7. I cured my GERD with probiotic Kefir. I told a friend who was also suffering and he had the same results. I started to notice a little benefit in two weeks, noticeable benefit in 2 months and complete eradication with only occasional relapses after six months. Now I have no heartburn or reflux. I discovered Kefir by looking for a natural alternative to Prilosec. I was very skeptical at first. Now I can eat any food including steak or spaghetti with marinara sauce (which used to be the worst) without any fear of reflux or heartburn. I had used probiotic pills in the past (not for acid reflux) and had no apparent benefit. Kefir has been wonderful. I now try to drink a glass per day. I wish everyone with acid reflux or heartburn would give Kefir a try. I make my own now so the only cost is the milk I buy to make it.




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    1. The day I quit milk products altogether, including my daily dose of organic kefir, was the day my 10+ year battle with acid reflux ended.

      I had been taking proton pump inhibitors for 10 years, had two scopes confirming gerd and gastritis, and had no luck in getting OFF the drugs until I went wfpb, no oil, NO milk products, including kefir.




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      1. It is important to understand that there may be different causes of GERD and heartburn. So, what works for one person (and whatever is causing their problem) may not work for another. Kefir worked wonders for me and my friend and apparently for others. However, that does NOT mean it will work for everyone because the cause of their problem may be different. Likewise, the fact that Kefir did not work for you does not mean that it will not work for anyone else. Kefir is a harmless non medical approach that is easy and safe to try. That is more than can be said for Prilosec or antacids.




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        1. Thanks for your input. I have multiple food intolerance issues, so I’m not sure I can tolerate kefir or miso (as someone else posted as helpful). I do know that having heartburn for the past several years is not good for me. Being plant based and low to no oil has not helped either. So, I will try some kefir….starting with 1 teaspoon a day and going from there. I may try some miso too, one thing at a time though. I’m glad you’ve seen your heartburn resolve. I’m hoping I can find a solution that works for me….. Thanks for posting your experience. It gives me hope….




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          1. Timaca,
            there are milk and water ‘kefir grains”. if you are following the vegan diet (as the best way to stay healthy), you might want to look into water kefir grains. they only need water and some sort of sugar (no dairy), have the same nutritional benefits without all the problems that consuming dairy brings. they are very easy to grow and you can find ideas for hundreds of probiotic beverages with a simple web search.
            Hope this helps




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            1. js~ Thanks for the suggestion to check into water kefir. I wish that a product like this was available in stores (eg kefir juice or kefir water). It would make it easier for someone who wanted to trial it. If you know of such a product that is not made with coconut, please let me know!!!




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  8. Hi, I was so happy to see this topic as my mother in law has a great reflux issue since last 10+ years. She is a vegetarian for life and of 65 years of age. Somehow, her body throws out all citrus, slightest spice and many other things. Lemon, tomatoes, garlic, onions nothing she can eat. She got her hernia removed about two years ago. We are clueless as she might have a lot of deficiency due to such limited variety intake of fruits and vegetables. All she consumes is flat bread, merry tea biscuits, white rice, 4-5 types of vegetables, apple, banana, lychee type sweet fruits. No nuts, sprouts as well. Can here anyone help further to this blog post? Thanks in advance.




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    1. Hi,

      I know some people with the same condition. Some nightshades and citrus can cause acid reflux.Ask her to quit dairy as that can cause severe reflux problems. I’ve noticed some spices cause acid reflux too, so consuming a pinch of turmeric with black pepper mixed in water will make sure she gets her anti-inflammatory dose, without putting it in food, which can cause reflux.

      Eating whole plant foods like rice, steamed sweet/ regular potatoes, Indian bread(without oil), some sweet fruits and veggies, with ground up flaxseeds is perfectly ok, we do not need a wide variety of food to thrive, this seems quite reasonable. If she feels good on this diet, she can then reintroduce things gradually,, if need be. However, I’m guessing it’s more emotional than a physical deprivation in feeling that there are limited food choices? Friends and family can make a big deal out of someone not eating a whole variety of foods, and that can make her stressed too.




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      1. Hi May,

        Thanks for your response.

        In general relate excess wheat can be a problem as well. Rebecca Cody mentioned her similar experience here.




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      1. Sagar Mehta, yes, this is a health and nutrition forum, and there was nothing wrong with your question or comments imo. We all benefit when someone brings a question to the ‘table’ and a reply is posted.
        I have been enjoying this site for a few years now, and it seems to me that the thumbs down thing is a relatively new phenomena often applied without rhyme or reason. Its unfortunate and off-putting.




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        1. I am not one of those that gave a thumbs down but I am not sure it was without reason till someone that did it explains…

          As I read it, I thought that maybe the reason for the thumbs down was that the woman’s diet may be be vegan or vegetarian but not a healthy one.

          Flat bread, merry tea biscuits, white rice and lychee type sweet fruits(whatever that is) are not to my knowledge highly recommended high nutritious foods. Even the fruit and white rice diet famous many decades ago was short term before it was fortified with better foods.

          I am not trying to excuse the thumbs down with no explanation in a comment but I am providing a possible reason…




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    2. Can she tolerate chick peas, beans, lentil, sesame seeds? I now eat mainly legumes and seeds, and then a slaw made of grated or shredded ingredients including: purple cabbage (or green cabbage if purple is unavailable), celery, carrots, apples, parsley, red pepper, etc. Then I make a dressing out of beet liquid (Slice fresh beets. I use my food processor for this. Barely cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside beets to eat alongside the slaw. Continue to boil the beet water until it is much reduced to a syrup. A little of this syrup sprinkled on the slaw makes a good dressing. You can also sprinkle with a little Benson’s table tasty substitute, a very good salt substitute. Perhaps add some salt free Westbrae Natural organic stoneground mustard, and/or some nutritional yeast flakes. See Chef AJ’s website.




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      1. Sorry, I also meant to say I eat plenty of kale every day. Lacinato kale and red kale, especially. You can add these to the slaw or just eat lots of kale, including the stems.




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  9. Please I need an advise on how to cure pains in my upper stomach also I have pains in my small intestine which the doctors said it is gastritis congestive, please I need someone who can direct me on how to cure it.




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    1. I would give dairy Kefir a try. Research has shown that the beneficial bacteria in Kefir can counteract bad bacteria (some of which can cause gastritis). Many grocery stores carry Kefir in either the dairy or organic sections. Various flavored versions are available if you don’t like plain Kefir. It can be expensive at nearly $4/quart but it is very easy to make your own. I purchased my culture on the web from Cultures for Health. I would recommend trying the store bought versions at first. I started with about 4 ounces a day. Now I drink six to 8 ounces on most days. I recommend doing this for 90 days or more. Kefir works by populating your stomach and intestines with beneficial bacteria so it takes longer than a pill. If it helps, make Kefir part of you regular diet. It not, you will be no worse off than now.




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      1. Everything you wrote about kefir grains is great… except recommending dairy kefir. Dairy could be the reason or the contributing factor for the pain. True, the benefits of probiotic beverages are numerous. Maybe it is better to try water kefir instead. Same benefits – no dairy negatives. Win-win




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      1. Great link, ty livewire. I am in the midst of doing an elimination diet of sorts now, with some success. It is definitly worth the effort so far for me. I had read this link last week when it was posted below Dr Greger’s article on arthritis. http://doctorklaper.com/answers/answers07/ The Paddison program is similar to Dr McDougall’s suggestion.




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        1. Susan, last fall my husband and I spent 10 days at TrueNorth Health Center in Santa Rosa, CA, and Dr Klaper was my doctor while we were there! I love his Youtube videos. He seems so kindhearted. Yes, I should think he would recommend a similar type of diet for figuring out such a problem.




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      2. Thank you for your kind advise. This problem of stomach has taken me to many hospitals which i did Endocopy both uppper and lower.The doctor saw a hole in my small intestine which he said is a Gastristis congestive,in the large intestine the discovered  Hemoroide. In fact a lot of drugs has been taken but not avail.




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        1. Are you getting all the fiber you need? And have you been tested for food allergies? Hemorrhoids are caused by straining, and straining is caused by eating a diet with too little fiber. If you are eating foods you are sensitive or allergic to, they may be probably be contributing to reflux and/or pain.

          If you want to do an easy test of foods with a great possibility for causing trouble, try eliminating all dairy – milk, cream, cheese, ice cream, everything that ever had anything to do with a cow, and all grains for two weeks and see if you begin feeling better. Then, you can introduce each item (say, brown rice, for starters) every three or four days and note any reactions. If something causes pain or another symptom, don’t eat it.
          Wait a few days before trying the next thing.

          As you reintroduce grains, avoid gluten until you have tested other whole grains first. I think many people react to wheat because it is sprayed with Roundup a few days before harvest. So, when you’re ready to try wheat, be sure it is organic whole grain, intact wheat, not anything made from flour.

          This is a slow process, but it’s a good way to note what bothers you, if removing all those things has helped you feel better.

          There’s no need to try dairy products, because they simply are unhealthy.
          They are most peoples’ greatest source of saturated fat. Even 2% milk is actually something like 37% fat. And they are addictive, especially cheese.
          So say bye bye to dairy and you’ll be better off.

          I would also recommend you go to http://www.drmcdougall.com and read everything, especially success stories from the many people who have turned their health around by adopting his diet. He has a free program, including recipes, for beginning a new phase of your life eating whole foods, plant based, without dairy or oils. If you email Dr McDougall with your questions he will email you back with links to pertinent articles and videos on his website.

          I hope this is helpful. It sounds like you need some serious help. Just remember, the body always works toward healing itself when given the nutrients it needs, and when foods that disagree with it are removed.

          Good luck with this.




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  10. Dr. G…I simply take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, preferably Braggs with water and it’s gone…just like that! Do you recommended this periodic regimen?




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    1. Vinegar can be helpful for someone with no esophageal problems but when your esophagus is raw from repeated acid exposure, vinegar – organic apple cider or otherwise – feels incredibly painful. I tried it after reading that my GERD might be due to low stomach acid. I also tried taking Betaine HCL and ended up having one of my worst heartburn attacks after only one pill (a well-meaning health food store employee suggested them). In actual fact my GERD is due to a hiatal hernia. I have found avoiding acidic foods helps my esophagus feel less sore. I have been told that there are some massage therapists that are trained in visceral/organ massage that have had some luck treating GERD due to hiatal hernia but haven’t ventured there yet, myself. I’d like to avoid surgery as I have heard mixed reviews and it seems like a last resort.
      I have been vegan for almost 15 years with plenty of fiber but suspect my hernia happened due to injury from lifting at work. Certain foods make it worse – chocolate/cocoa, coffee/caffeine, mint – and I avoid them with the exception of the odd bit of dark chocolate. These foods can temporarily relax the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) and let more acid up into the esophagus. There are also foods that can irritate the esophagus, like raw onions for some people, or acidic foods. Veggies seem safest and greens and beans always feel good/soothing for me.
      Some other suggestions for coping: melatonin (synthetic – no animal brain/prion risk) at night can help tighten the LES while you sleep; raise your bed 6 inches or sleep on a wedge (not piled up pillows as this can put more pressure on your stomach contents); eat much smaller portions more often instead of big meals a few times a day and not before bed. Have read a study on D-limonene (citrus extract) pills helping some but haven’t been able to find a vegan capsule being made and even the study authors are unsure why works (haven’t come across any other studies on D-limonene). Has anyone tried this?




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      1. Pamela,

        Thanks for your information. I understand that some people are able to manipulate the stomach back into position by themselves. Have you checked Youtube for this?

        A friend of mine had such a bad one that she had surgery. Much of her entire stomach had escaped and was above the diaphragm, though probably not up into her esophagus, as I think about it. Weird, I know, but she feels much better after having it fixed. She has a history of morbid obesity and would probably be considered obese at present, which was probably a big factor in her situation.

        A naturopath told me about lemonine for fighting cancer, and I bought the liquid extract and dripped it into capsules immediately before taking them with a meal. However, he said the amount needed to fight cancer was far more than I could get that way. It tastes far too nasty to drink or squirt into your mouth.

        I hope you’ll get that bit of stomach back where it belongs, so it isn’t damaged and the stomach acid doesn’t harm the esophagus. The two organs have very different needs for acidity.




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  11. About 30 years ago I developed diagnostic kits for a major medical device company which involved using gastroenterologists as consultants. One of them, the late Dr Strauss, flatly stated in an editorial to a peer reviewed journal that GERD is not caused by excess stomach, but rather often from lack of it, easily proved by testing gastric acidity which commonly is reduced on aging. Enzymatic digestion at low gastric acidity, especially in seniors and others when overeating, causes foaming and frothing into the esophagus, gradually digesting the valve or sphincter, and worsening GERD. Lying down flat within 3 hrs of eating and digestion further damages the valve. Taking antacids like calcium carbonate temporarily reduce acidity, forming CO2 gas worsening frothing, but the calcium stimulates acid secretion. Magnesium oxide based antacids only neutralize acid if present. Proton pump inhibitors which in most cases are not needed shut down normal digestion requiring both acidity and enzymes. Hence food especially proteins are not properly digested before gastric emptying. In his opinion, PPI were a multi billion racket even 30 y ago. Antifoams like simethicone in combination with calcium and magnesium antacids, sold OTC, may be a better first choice than PPI.
    Digestion of proteins in normal stomach acidity also is required to release Vitamin B12 and for binding to essential B12 uptake promoters, both deficient in seniors, vegans and in long term PPI users, hence requiring daily oral B12 supplementation with about 100 microgram B12 for passive transport no uptake.
    Low gastric acidity also promotes H pylori growth on the stomach mucosa, a common infection, leading to gastritis and potentially gastric cancer. On rational grounds, H pylori may be better controlled with traditional liquid OTC bismuth preparations rather than conventional triple therapies with acid blockers and antibiotics in swallowed capsules that temporarily destroy gastric H pylori, but not residual infections in the esophagus and oral cavity.




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    1. The details are interesting but the fact is that at 76 years old and consuming a whole plant-based diet I do not have any problem with GERD. I suppose not laying flat within three hours of eating does help but I do that for other reasons than GERD. I also do most of my eating from 10am to 6pm which I think helps me stay slim but according to your comment it also assist me to avoid GERD.




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    2. 19451951, Thank you for sending this information. I read years ago about how as we age we don’t make as much stomach acid, and, on rare occasions when I’ve felt I wasn’t digesting properly I would either eat an apple or drink water with a little vinegar, which would take care of things.

      But, despite this knowledge being out there for ages, Big Pharma continues with the wrong kinds of meds, which only leads to more serious problems, and most doctors seem to get all their continuing education from drug reps, so they just go along with the plan.

      Those of us on WFPB eating should remember, when people comment about the food’s lack of B12, need to remember that many omnivores also lack B12 as they age.




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  12. Is there an optimal diet for reactive gastropathy due to bile reflux (rather than acid reflux)? I had my lower pyloric sphincter removed with the lower part of my stomach, gallbladder, duodenum, and 1/3 of my pancreas for pancreatic cancer. (I am a survivor.). As a result, bile from the liver apparently enters the stomach and causes irritation and pain from time to time. I don’t seem to get symptoms of reflux into the esophagus, just abdominal pain sometimes after meals. I can’t seem to pinpoint any particular food item. Any suggestions for the optimal diet, or foods to avoid, for this condition? Thanks




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    1. Russ, I can’t offer anything but congratulations on surviving such a tough cancer and such a drastic procedure. I hope you find the solution.

      Your case sounds like it would would be the opposite of GERD – alkalinity entering the stomach, which normally has an acidic environment. I wonder if apple cider vinegar in water would help bring the acidity of the stomach back and relieve the pain.




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    2. Hi, Russ. First of all, congratulations on surviving pancreatic cancer! I found no research on diet therapy for your condition, perhaps partly because so few people survive pancreatic cancer as you have. Dietary fat and protein stimulate the release of cholecystokinin (CCK), which in turn slows gastric emptying and stimulates the release of bile. It stands to reason, then, that eating low fat and protein, and perhaps eating smaller, more frequent meals might provide some relief from the discomfort you are experiencing. It might also help to eat foods that bind bile and remove it from the body. You can learn more about that here:
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/which-vegetable-binds-bile-best/
      I would love to know if this advice is beneficial to you, if you would not mind reporting back here. I hope it helps!




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  13. I am underweight, don’t eat any of the typical trigger foods for heartburn, and eat a WFPB diet with no animal products. At times I’ve eaten no oil, at times minimal oil (less than 1 tablespoon a day of olive oil)…and I still have heartburn. It is frustrating!!

    I appreciate those who have mentioned that various kinds of fermented foods have helped them. Thank you! I have to try something!

    If anyone else has suggestions I’d appreciate it!!




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    1. Timaca,

      Have you tried the supplement betaine hydrochloride? It is possible you’re not making enough stomach acid, which causes the same symptoms as if you were making too much, yet is much more common. The betaine would supplement your own stomach acid.

      You could also take digestive enzymes with meals to see if they would help.




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      1. Hi Livewire~
        Thanks for the suggestion. Betaine HCl is on my list as something to try. I have not tried it, nor have I tried apple cider vinegar which is along the same line of thinking….. I don’t know that I would try digestive enzymes as I feel like I’m digesting the food just fine…..just the dang heartburn is bothersome…. :-(

        Is Betaine HCl something that you’ve tried? If so, I’d love your experience with it….




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        1. Timaca, I have used betaine from time to time, but I wasn’t having a problem with reflux, so I didn’t notice any big difference, but it has been helpful for others I’ve talked with.

          In a nutrition course I took they recommended starting with one capsule per meal, then increasing the number of capsules per meal each day until feeling a slight warmth in the stomach. At that point, back off to the last comfortable dose. I tried it once but never got to a point where I noticed warmth. I can’t remember how many milligrams each capsule was – sorry.

          I’ve also taken cider vinegar on the rare occasion when I felt the meal was sitting a little heavily in my stomach, and it always seemed to help.

          Does anybody else have a suggestion as to how to determine a dose? I would think you would take more after a heavy meal and less after a light meal, especially if you ate a lot of raw food, since it has enzymes that are intact.

          This next is going to sound a little gross, but it was an observation I made that seems to confirm the notion that we produce less hcl as we age.
          As a child, if I had flu and threw up, I remember how extremely acidic the contents of my stomach tasted on their way out. I’ve had a few bouts of vomiting in the last three or four years and noticed it didn’t taste nearly as acidic as I remembered. I’m 74, so it’s been a long time since I was a kid! It probably would be helpful for me to supplement with betaine. I tried using apple cider vinegar with meals but that caused a series of canker sores. I googled canker sores and found that vinegar can be a cause, so I stopped it and they went away.




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          1. Livewire~
            I will have to give the betaine a try. I will start with the smallest dose possible since I am sensitive to many foods and supplements. I appreciate you taking the time to respond again and it nice to know that in some people ACV causes canker sores!!!!

            Thanks for your input! :-)




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  14. I was on daily Protonix for about six or seven years due to GERD and Nutcracker esophageal spasms. The more educated I became about what I was eating the more I wanted to get away from Big Pharma. It seemed our poor health was synonymous with their profits. I was already a Vegan for ethical reasons so I began searching for all ways to “let my food be my medicine ” and it lead me to apple cider vinegar. From the day I started using two tablespoons in the morning I haven’t taken any Protonix. It seemed rather counterintuitive to take something acidic when I was having reflux but when I read the rationale it made sense. It’s acidity signals the lower esophageal sphincter to close hence relief from reflux. I occasionally get reflux if I have a spicy meal but the fact that I can even eat spicy at all is a huge difference in my diet. When I was on Protonix I still had to eat very bland to avoid reflux occurring. This is why I love Nutrition Facts.




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    1. George~
      You take the ACV just once, in the morning? I assume the 2 tablespoons is diluted in a glass of water? And that solves your problem for the entire day?? Thanks for clarifying!




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      1. Hey,

        I actually found a tart cherry juice with only cherries as single ingredient (not sweet kid stuff) so I use that instead of water. I switched after Greger did video of cherries and cherry juice being able to reduce inflammation. If I have something spicy, which is still rare, and have a reflux issue I will down another dose of the acv/cherry juice and it will be gone in about two minutes.

        Take care, George




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  15. My husband (now 70) was diagnosed in the early 90’s with an esophageal stricture and put on antacids. At one point he was put on PPI’s for a number of years. After hearing and reading about the dangers of PPI’s and talking to his VA doctor, he was put back on rantidine hcl 150mg from the VA but often only uses the Zantac 75mg from over the counter. They say he needs to stay on antacids for life because of the stricture. Even Dr.’s that we know or have met who advocate a plant-based diet recommend that he stay on antacids because of the stricture. He usually does not feel “heartburn”, just certain foods that sometimes “stick”. (We are vegans, don’t smoke, no alcohol and not overweight.)

    So, does he really have to stay on the antacids for life? Can a stricture heal on its own?

    What about the above that for many it too little acid not too much? How would you test for acid? Is this something a general physician can do or a specialist? What is a minimum level of stomach acid for digestion and to eliminate/control many bacteria, such as H. pylori?




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  16. Anna,

    The stricture is a mechanical issue and normally is not going to change without some surgical intervention….. with that said and not knowing the severity of the stricture or other health history, you might experiment with different foods and get a better idea of which are offending and which are not.

    You can measure stomach acid using the Heidelberg capsule method where you swallow a transmitter (small pill) and it reports the acid levels both at rest and when challenged with food. I would ask the manufactures of the testing equipment who has this setup in your area. Your correct that for both mineral absorption, bacterial protection and the breakdown of our foods adequate acid is necessary.

    Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger




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  17. I have been suffering with GERD for many years, even after becoming WFPB minimal oil. I have been on Somac (Pantoprazole) for a long time, about a decade, and have attempted ceasing it on a couple of occasions, but the acid becomes unbearable after a day. I assume (but don’t really know) that this is because my body over-produces acid to counteract the medication. Do you have any recommendations for how to step down and eventually cease the medication? I don’t want to be on it for life!




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