Low carb can cure reflux disease

Heartburn – caused by reflux disease – is super common, millions of people suffer from it. Many people take medication for it every single day to reduce the symptoms. What if many of these people could cure the disease with a dietary change?

An earlier small study tested a LCHF diet on a few people with this problem, and they got significantly better. Even the pH in their esophagus improved, so it was not just placebo.

Now another, slightly larger, study has tested this idea again. Not only does it find that carbohydrates, sugar and the glycemic load of the diet was associated with reflux disease. They also test what happens when the participants go on a lower carb diet. The result?

chartBig improvements

Incredibly enough, it seems like all the women in the study were able to get off their reflux (GERD) medications… See the chart to the right.

Has a low-carb diet improved your reflux symptoms? Please let me know in the comments below.


A low-carb diet for beginners

The study

AP&T: Dietary carbohydrate intake, insulin resistance and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: a pilot study in European- and African-American obese women

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  1. Dan
    Absolutely ... reducing my carbs removed my reflux. And exactly the same thing happened with a friend of mine. A welcome side-effect!
  2. Jean
    Me too. I started eating low carb and the reflux disappeared. I stopped my medication and that's the way it remains over 10 years later.
  3. Julie
    Low carb cured my reflux too.
  4. Can Koçak
    Hello from Istanbul. I had quite severe gastritis and GERD and always carried Rennie and Lansor in my shoulder bag. Back in 2011, when I started LCHF I recovered within few days. Since than I never used any medication for my stomach. I think the real culprit is consuming grains.
  5. samuel
    I have noticed this too, it got slightly worse for the first week or two after starting LCHF but then it vanished. However it may be another aspect of the diet such as elimination of grains, hard to say.
    Reply: #14
  6. Colyn
    This happened when my mother visited and ate my low carb cooking. She didn't have heartburn! She realized that sweets, including fruits, irritate her, but after cutting them out of her diet on a regular basis she can now enjoy them occasionally.
  7. Karen
    I did not expect it but I rarely have heartburn anymore. LCHF has fixed my diabetes AND heartburn!
  8. Bruce
    Yes, almost no reflux after 30 years of taking all the meds. Didn't even think about this because all other major health issues(sugar, bp) have gone away too! Thanks from the bottom of my heart (and stomach!).
  9. Mark
    I wouldn't say it's a 'cure'. It puts it into remission like T2D.
    Start eating processed carbage again and it will return! ;)
  10. Val
    I have not had reflux since I started eating low carb about 3 months ago, I feel so much better in every way.
  11. Susan Herd
    Me too! I have not had any regular symptoms since I stopped eating grains about three years ago.
    The only time I ever get any slight symptoms now is if I eat oranges or rolled oats.
    I have proven allergies to the citrus group and grains(grasses.
  12. Julie
    I asked my doctor what the alternative to taking Losec was, as the medication wasn't very effective and I didn't want to use medication. Her response - cut out all refined carbohydrates. Silent reflux gone in three days.
  13. Dora
    I had gastritis when I started with LCHF. After 4-5 weeks symptoms have disappeared. I'm on LCHF diet for 7 months and I do not need Lansoprazolum medic. I wish I knew for LCHF before, because it is changed my life. Thank you dr Andreas, thank you all team!
  14. Laura
    I's so glad I read your comment, Samuel. I have tried LCHF in the past and quit after a few days because my reflux symptoms got worse. I am afraid that maybe it's impossible for me to eat fat because of my hiatal hernia. Maybe I'll try again and stick it out a little longer.
  15. 1 comment removed
  16. Christine
    I am so happy that I no longer have to use prescription tablets for heart burn. I love lchf ?
  17. Steve
    Yes, I used to take medication for heart burn (omeprazole) but on lchf, I don't need the medication. I have had very mild heartburn twice over six months but nothing to concern about. I have also suffered bipolar depression for most of my life, but have had no significant episodes since starting this diet. However, I've also cut out all alcohol which may also be a factor. I've also lost over 15 Kg.
  18. Tonya
    Cured mine and I was diagnosed with a hietal hernia. I had been trying to get off Nexium and was having a terrible time until I went low carb. Low carb completely cured my reflux (and hietal hernia).
  19. Rhonda Porter
    Been on Prilosec for years....been off of it since starting lo carb diet...never going back.
  20. Rebecca Griffin
    Several years ago I did South Beach and very rarely since then do I have heart burn. Where before I was having it a few times a week.
  21. Kathryn UK
    Yes. I no longer have debilitating reflux. Interestingly, if I have a 'carby' few days e.g. this week with lots of family staying for a birthday party, the slight burn starts to return. I'll be back on a largely low carb diet from today and in the future and will continue to improve my health. Many thanks for the advice.
  22. Beth Hetzel
    My boyfriend and I started LCHF eating a year ago. Neither one of us has heartburn or reflux anymore. His A1C also dropped to 5.7. This has been a game changer for us. Our blood work is absolutely perfect now, best it has ever been. Plus the weight loss. 45 pounds for me, walking 8 miles daily, and regular other exercises. Same with Dave.
  23. Jacq
    I too no longer suffer from heartburn, Bye bye Omeprazole :)
  24. Jules
    I don't know if I had reflux, but I certainly used to suffer from severe (extremely painful) heartburn on a regular basis (couple of times a week). This used to require multiple doses of Rennies to sort out. Maybe it was reflux and never diagnosed. I'll never know now, thankfully!

    Since being on LCHF for 3 years, I have not had a single recurrence, EXCEPT on less than a handful of occasions when I have "fallen off the wagon" as such and gone back briefly to eating old style carb rich (usually on holidays there the temptation lurks).

    Thank you diet doctor for sorting that out for me, as well as a raft of other ailments which have also disappeared.

  25. Lynn
    Definitely. Been been on Atkins since November and no heartburn.
  26. Johanna
    As long as all my Low Carb Healthy Fat foods are NOT deep fried, I'm good now too.
  27. Jim Scullion
    I suffered from reflux for many years until I started eating LCHF. It disappeared right away, as did my snoring and sleep apnoea. Needless to say, I'm delighted!
  28. Norma Greeff
    My oesophagus raptured (12cm long) and I was put on Nexium. For two years I removed suspect 'foods' from my diet. Then my husband and I started the Banting LCHF diet Lifestyle and I have no symptoms. It's wonderful. Needless to say medication is a thing of the past. I've never felt better with heaps more energy and strength, clarity of thinking and no bloating.
  29. Thorsten Bremen
    Skipped the wheat and it's gone for good! Since 10 years free from suffering...
  30. Jane
    Not really a sufferer of acid reflux, but I suffered from it when I started LCHF. Eventually I figured out the problem was apple cider vinegar. I used to add some to water once a day. Symptoms stopped after I stopped drinking it. I just use the ACV in mayonnaise now.
  31. Jamal
    I have the opposite problem:( I have been on LCHF for 6 months. Never had issues before. Over the last month, I am struggling with extremely bad reflux and heart burn. I am pretty strict, and not sure what is going on.
    My mother and sister in law are having the same issue (started LCHF around the same time).
    Any ideas?
    Reply: #52
  32. Janet
    Had very bad reflux - all day and every day plus waking up at night choking. Started LCHF to try to cure it after reading the small study you mentioned. Problem solved in 1 day! No indigestion, no reflux and I can lie down at night without a problem. Can't stop telling everyone how good that feels!
  33. Bengt
    I have had reflux and heart burn problems almost all my life. Omeprazole is good help but I don't like eating it for life. Since I started lchf for 15 months ago I have no problems with reflux and don't need any medication anymore.
  34. Francesca
    I have been eating low carb several weeks, and I noticed that the reflux pain disappeared. I then wondered if this happened to other and I did check "reflux low carb diet" and here I am! It is working greatly for me, even a beer once in a while no problem if no other carbs are associated. A bit puzzled because this diet is against more of my dietary beliefs!
  35. Elizabeth
    I must be doing something wrong. I've been LCHF for two years and while it helped my reflux initially, it has now worsened. I'm considering going back on to nexium it is so bad. I really don't want to, as I have avascular necrosis in the bones in my feet, which I think the nexium contributed to. Any suggestions Dr Andreas?
    Gerd and associated cough for 10 + years. Low carb diet had immediate effect. No heartburn no cough. It has changed my life.
  37. tps
    My stomach problems became so bad I missed a month of work, spent the nights pacing my house, and had tubes stuck into both ends trying to find the answer. I finally got a small book on carbs and diet because the doctors could not solve it. I think I was taking a half dozen medications and my GI said I would be on these for the rest of my life.

    The book promised the pain would be gone if I "decompressed" to 25 net carbs a day (carbs less sugar and fiber = net carbs). I stayed there for a couple weeks. No pain. Raised it to 50. No pain. Eventually I found my numbers at 175. And I stay around that point.

    I have not taken a medication (except occasional tums) for nearly four years now.

  38. Firebird7478
    I've been LCHF for quite a few years now and was JUST diagnosed with "silent" reflux that came out of nowhere, so no, LCHF didn't help because I was already on the diet for some time when I was told I had it.
  39. Bruce L
    I used to take meds regularly for this, and have not had to take them at all since I started LCHF plan. It wasn't my primary focus when I started(blood sugar and weight were), but it is a very pleasant benefit!
  40. Linda
    I too was diagnosed with "silent" reflux - that caused throat pain and coughing but was then diagnosed with a large Hiatus hernia. Still having some reflux issues but getting better - and it seems to depend on how much fat I eat later at night as well as any chocolate. I am trying to fast about 16 hours and end eating each night by 8:00 pm. Some days are better than others but certainly not as bad as it was 3 months ago. Now if I could get better at staying strictly low carb I'd probably be better off !!
  41. joyce

    I had unresolved symptoms of productive coughing, bronchio spasms and choking episodes with aspiration for three years. i have a history of hiatal hernia and GERD. i followed all the specialist's recommendations of diet, inhalers and medicine with no improvement. lab tests did not reveal gluten or lactose sensitivities.. i started LCHF along with no milk in early Febuary with all my symptoms gradually subsiding...as of this date i have only an occassional cough and rare GERD symptoms. my symptoms were so severe that i was house bound and had hygeine issues....with my symptoms resolved i come and go freely now. I use no wheat or gluten products..i am able to eat yogurt, and some cheese but drink no milk. the many recipes have made these approaches easy. Thank you for giving my life back. joyce

  42. Jimmy
    I went from 1-Prilosec (occassionally 2) and 2-150mg Zantac throughout the day to now only taking 1 150mg Zantac a day to every other day.
  43. Maureen Berry
    Within days of starting LCHF my GERD totally disappeared. Prior to that I had been on Omeprazole for years and still had 'breakthrough' heartburn and had to be careful what I ate. Strawberries in particular, champagne and dry white wine crippled me.
    I had read New Atkins New You from cover to cover before I started, this was to be a well planned and sustained lifestyle change, fortunately the GERD outcome was fully described, so I stopped the Omeprazole.
    Now, 5 years in, I have lost close to 50lbs, I never have acid reflux, strawberries and champagne cause me no problems whatsoever. My blood pressure is now normal and both my BP medications have stopped. I also used to suffer from irritable bowel, cured and arthritis, now pain free. It has been truly amazing and life changing. Always was a statin refusor. Now I follow The Diet Doctor, Tim Noakes, Phinney and Volek, Westman, Fung, Zoe Harcombe and love the work of Malcolm Kendrick and Ben Goldacre. They all bring something to the debate and I am so pleased that I discovered this way of eating and living.
  44. Ted
    I've been taking Omeprazole daily for 20yrs with very high levels of acid experienced. When I went to have a PH test done all those years ago... the doctors couldn't believe their eyes at the levels.
    After LCHF for 4-5 months now.. I occasionally need to take a pill, but haven't had one now for weeks.
    This way of eating just sorts out so many issues... many thanks!
  45. PAM Gainesville
    Had serious reflux, terrible heartburn, and numerous bouts of gastritis for 50 years. Took Nexium, which was a "miracle drug" until my doctor advised there is a correlation between dementia and meds that turn off those acid pumps. It seems that certain minerals need stomach acid to get absorbed. The inability to absorb minerals reduces the protective action and the worry about dementia. So I stopped Nexium immediately, cold tukey. Had worst heartburn of my life, for weeks (they call it rebound heartburn). Thought I'd die. Tooks weeks to improve but still had burning. Then went on paleo style low carb diet, that i morphed into a standard low carb probram with no dairy and voila -- NO HEARTBURN. Two months now and problem solved.
  46. Renee Thomson
    I have never had reflux before, but I have been doing the LCHF diet for 7 months and am getting a burning sensation in my throat that I believe must be reflux - what am I doing wrong??
  47. Joan Lawrence
    I have suffered from reflux for years and been on Somac for years. Since trialing the LCHF eating I have had a dramatic improvement and only take Somac occasionally, when of course I eat something that I shouldn't. I have lost 6 kg since Christmas, but my aim is to get a lot stricter with the LCHF eating plan. Also I went to a new doctor last week and she told me to stop taking Somac due to thinning of the bones, I had never been told this before. Thank you for all the information that you provide on your website, I am very grateful for all the help and support provided.
  48. Ana Alexandra
    I have been doing LCHF for around 2 months, I was so happy love the recipes easy to follow, and I was also doing intermittent fasting. But last week I started suffering of GERD. Acid reflux, heartburn. I already had reflux before strating LCHF. And was taking a treatment of Nexium in the morning and Zantac in the night. But last week it got really worse and I don't know how to eat now. Maybe it got worse because I was eating out of my house because of spring break travel and food is never as healthy... I don't know how to relieve the symptoms following LCHF. I am 5.4 and weigh around 118 pounds do allot of excercise and have a healthy lifestyle. I was scared to do LCHF but gave it a try because I love the kinds of foods you can eat plus I saw amazing results in losing some weight and eating only 2 or 3 meals a day. Please help!
  49. Carmela
    I was diagnosed with acid reflux just two weeks ago and prescribes omeprazole once a day. I read in internet that low carbs diet improves reflux, so i tried it last week. I avoid caffeine, sweets and sweet drinks, bread, pasta. Actually, i just limit my rice intake for the week, eat apple or banana evry morning, every three hours feeding of veggies and meat. And my symptoms significantly improve. I will continue what i'm doing because it seems it is working for me.
  50. Marla
    Am 68, have had silent reflux for 16 years; throat clearing from mucous draining down throat, choking and lump in throat feeling. Took double dose nexium for years even tho it didn't help. Got dxd with small cancerous colon polyp and stopped all meds after finding out polyps can result from the low acid environment. I have never noticed a difference no matter what diet I'm on, including IF 20 hrs a day with LCHF, and homemade bone broth. I will try what someone said, no food after 8 pm, and less fat.
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