I’ve mentioned before that I have a genetic bone disorder and have utilized my interpretation of scientific publications to self-experiment.
This self-experimentation has had positive health results. Other times I have merely yielded knowledge about what does not help. For instance, I’ve had pretty bad acid reflux for the past few years. I recently discovered from my mother that I also had terrible reflux as a baby. I might even have a weak LES muscle. I don’t know, I haven’t been to the doctor for it for years because they just prescribe proton pump inhibitors or histamine blockers. I can buy those and as far as I can tell, they have long term deleterious effects on the human body.
- Gregory L Austin et al., “A Very Low-Carbohydrate Diet Improves Gastroesophageal Reflux and Its Symptoms,” Digestive Diseases and Sciences 51, no. 8 (August 2006): 1307–12,
doi:10.1007/s10620-005-9027-7. In this study, a very low carbohydrate diet (consuming less than 20 grams a day) led to improved symptoms in all eight participants. The metric was a probe utilized to determine acid exposure time in the esophagus. There was no blind in this particular study, but the objective measurement is interesting. The measurements were taken before the diet was initiated and then six days later.
- WS Yancy Jr., D Provenzale, and Ec Westman, “Case Reports. Improvement of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease after Initiation of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet: Five Brief Case Reports,” Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine 7, no. 6 (November 2001): 120.
In this article records the case of five individuals who self-initiated a low-carb diet found themselves without frequent symptoms of heart-burn and indigestion. It is published in an alternative therapy journal, but it’s still peer-reviewed.
The Pay Off
So, I started an extremely low carbohydrate diet about two weeks ago. The main purpose was precisely to decrease symptoms of heartburn that had become more frequent that non-heartburn. My existence had become somewhat miserable because if I happened to even eat a small snack, within minutes I would feel very full and bloated. I would have heartburn (even if I took medicine prior to eating) and the full feeling would last for several hours. If I ate lunch at work, I usually was not able to eat dinner or go to the gym at night. The only way to get food in prior to the gym was to eat around 10 am, then just be full and miserable all day at work. This started around March, but the heart burn goes back to my early twenties.
Anyhow, I started the diet, eschewing the conventional wisdom that fatty foods lead to heartburn. For the first two days, I ate less than 20 grams of carbohydrates, continued drinking coffee, and obtained most of my carbohydrates from sauerkraut, spinach, and mushrooms. My protein and fat came from butter and meat. I expected my digestion to remain slow, but to at least experience less heartburn. Within two days, I had my first day with no heartburn and no medication. Upon increasing my carbs to about 50 grams per day, and allowing myself one “cheat day a week,” I have had only one serious experience of heartburn and 7 light flare-ups that went away as soon as I took an antacid or dissipated by the time I walked to the medicine cabinet. My digestion has sped up as well. Just Tuesday I ate a rather large lunch and was able to hit the gym by 3:45 without losing my food after deadlift.
So, despite conventional wisdom to the contrary, a high-fat, low-carb diet may assist with the relief of symptoms related to GERD and indigestion.
Update: Carnivorous Diet
I tried the carnivorous diet to contribute data for N Equals Many. During it I had no heartburn at all. This makes sense.
Update: More Research on the Same Topic
- The effect of dietary carbohydrate on gastroesophageal reflux disease “More acid reflux symptoms are found after high carbohydrate diet. High carbohydrate diet could induce more acid reflux in
lowesophagus and more reflux symptoms in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease.”
- Dietary carbohydrate intake, insulin resistance
andgastro‐oesophageal reflux disease: a pilot study in European‐ and African‐American obese women “GERD symptoms and medication usage was more prevalent in European‐American women, for whom the relationships between dietary carbohydrate intake, insulin resistance andGERD were most significant. Nevertheless, high‐fat/low‐carbohydrate diet benefited all women with regard to reducing GERD symptoms and frequency of medication use.”