Which Foods Make Reflux Worse?

If you are new to this site, you should first read my How I Cured My Silent Reflux article as it explains the underlying root causes of acid reflux, its corresponding treatments, and provides the necessary context to follow some of the concepts in this episode.

Episode Transcript

(Note this is not a word-for-word transcription - it's loosely paraphrased. Alternatively, feel free to watch on YouTube).

So lets talk a little bit about diet. One of the first objections I get from people when I start talking about diet is ‘no wait a minute. I didn’t have diet as one of my risk factors its not one of the things that kinda got me down this path of reflux and so I don’t really understand why you’re talking about diet.’ In response to that I would share that diet, while it may not have been the thing that got you down this path, diet is an absolutely critical aspect of any sort of healing journey.

The other push back that I get quite often is ‘I eat super clean I’m a vegetarian, a vegan, I do keto, I fast, I’m doing such and such reflux diet.’ And that may very well be but what I want to do here in the next couple slides is address both of these questions and help to level set us on this concept of diet. What it is, what it isn’t and how we should be thinking about it.

The reality is that eating consistently poor diet can lead to gut health issues. I think we can all agree with this. We typically will lump a number of things in like fatty foods, fried foods, refined foods, processed foods, foods that are high in sugar. We’ll typically ring fix it in that way. I’d like expand that definition a little bit to include some additional foods. IN particular, when you have a gut that’s compromised there are other foods that are traditionally considered healthy foods that may not sit well with you.

For me, ‘poor diet’ expands to include foods that may be triggering additional inflammation in your body. And not just traditionally poor foods such as fast food. Really, poor diet can expand to include traditionally healthy foods but those that are just not good for you given you health situation.

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I also want to talk a little bit about some of these diets that people find themselves in. A lot of folks when they start encountering gut health issues in the first place will realize that certain foods are causing them issues, they’ll eliminate that food or even worse they’ll eliminate whole categories of food. You know, “I cant eat vegetables so I just don’t eat vegetables.” For one, that is possibly one of the absolutely worse things you can do for yourself understanding the importance of fiber in your diet as being the food substrate for probiotic or beneficial bacteria in your gut. If you cut away that food source the probiotics (healthy bacteria in your gut) will die off and will not be able to help you modulate your immune system, repair your gut lining (leaky gut), help you to produce hormones that regulate mood and digestive system, so on and so forth. The list of catastrophic issues downstream of not eating vegetables / fiber is tremendous.

Also people will find themselves adhering to a particular diet because it provide short term relief from some of their systems such as a low pH diet or a FODMAP diet may actually provide short term relief, but the difficulty can be if you take that and further narrow down the foods that you are able or are willing to eat can cause some significant challenges for you.

The way you can conceptualize this is the more narrow your food choices, the more narrow your microbiome and the less diverse the population of beneficial microbes in your gut. Really, a huge theme to take out of this video is you want to be working from whatever you can eat to expand that out as much as you possibly can to have an incredibly diverse diet because diversity is king. Diversity of your diet equals diversity of your microbiome. While you may be seeing short term relief, particularly the more you restrict what you are able to eat, the more you will start to see long term issues that may even offset some of the short term relief your were experiencing and ultimately this can make things significantly worse.

Another challenge for acid reflux sufferers in particular is this common advice that we get. You know “avoid reflux triggers.” You can go google that and find 50-100 different things that are considered to be reflux triggers. Some of those may trigger you and some may not. Its hard to tell sometimes which is which. What you want to do instead is find an approach that will give you a little more consistency and visibility into what actually may be causing you issues vs a generic list that is composed of looking at hundreds and thousands of people over time. Yes, there are some commonalities that are there but one person may find that chocolate triggers them and another person may find that it does. You really want to hone in on what is causing YOU issues vs relying too heavily on a generic list of issues across a wide range of people. After a year of hearing from so many people that had gotten so much poor advice I decided to write ‘How I Cured My Silent Reflux’ and really codify the approach I took to heal my reflux.

Probably the biggest question I’ve received since releasing that book is ‘What do I eat?’ I resisted for long time, creating a cookbook. I’m still resisting creating a cookbook. So what I’ve done instead is create the un-cookbook. I intend to create a training course, but also a book and share my experience over the last 15 years. Everything is based on research that I’ve been able to pull form medical journals, scientific articles, studies, meta-studies so it tends to be backed by a lot of objective information. Hope you find this helpful!

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Don is a best selling author of 'How I Cured My Silent Reflux,' and a former acid reflux sufferer for more than 15 years. With several family members with the disease, and a medically diagnosed hiatal hernia he resigned to the fact that he would take acid blockers for the rest of his life. Dissatisfied with medical advice, he researched the root causes of acid reflux and by solving them was able to eliminate his acid reflux for good!
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Kevin David Ormsby
Kevin David Ormsby
1 year ago

I was diagnosed with silent reflux just over 2 years ago. I immediately cut out tea, coffee, chocolate, alcohol (didn’t really drink anyway), tomatoes, etc. After a couple of months I stopped coughing. Voice coaching helped with a hoarse voice. Suddenly this last month it’s come back. I’ve lapsed a bit on the chocolate. Diet is a mix of vegan, veggy & some meat. I’m fit, work out, play golf & walk my dog a lot. Any ideas??

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