Can a Ketogenic Diet Help People with Acid Reflux?
Evidence Shows that Carbohydrates Aggravate GERD
Many people who adopt ketogenic diets for fat loss or some other goal find that resolution of acid reflux/GERD is an unexpected and pleasant “side-effect.” One study reported on five patients who self-initiated low-carb diets and had a resolution of GERD.
To be fair, three of them eliminated coffee, and all of them eliminated acidic foods, but the researchers noted that “carbohydrates may be a precipitating factor for GERD symptoms and that other classic exacerbating foods such as coffee and fat may be less pertinent when a low-carbohydrate diet is followed”.
Another study added weight to the possibility that carbohydrates are, indeed, a trigger for GERD symptoms. In a small cohort of adults with GERD, compared to a liquid meal containing 85 grams of carbohydrate, a liquid meal of the same volume but containing about 180 grams of carbohydrate resulted in greater total time experiencing reflux and a greater number of long reflux periods (lasting more than 5 minutes).
A liquid meal of 85 grams of carbs is not something any good nutritionist would recommend for a low-carb or ketogenic diet, but this study wasn’t specifically about a low-carb diet. It was designed to evaluate “the effect of different carbohydrate density on low esophageal acid and reflux symptoms,” and it certainly did: the high-carbohydrate meal aggravated GERD more than the lower-carbohydrate meal.
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