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

1 2 3


  1. Victor
    I am a 15 years low carb veteran. Lately, I had some digestive problems that turn to be from low acid production. For years I though i have a high acid. It turns to be that actually a low acid is the majority case in people, though symptoms of high and low acid are similar. LCHF may not help help if you are low acid, I learned it hard way. You have to figure out and treat it by yourself do not assume it. Now I am taking Betaeine and still doing LCHF and finally feel great again. Low carb diet did not stop my aging body to go to low acid production. Just keep that in mind as you proceed with LCHF. A lot of people here, I see taking or took anti acids. Big mistake. Search and read about The "Acid Over-Production" Myth Debunked By Dr. Dana Myatt. You will thank me later.
  2. Marstar
    I'm in the same situation. Low carb + indulgences for 6 months and now I have terrible acid reflux for the past 6 weeks that initially did not respond to medication. I basically eat rice cakes, fruits and veggies now and have lowered my dose of ppi....but I miss my bacon and eggs every morning! I had no heartburn at all for the first 6 months then one day the reflux started and hasn't stopped.
    Reply: #57
  3. Keith
    I have 2 ulcers, Barrett's Esophagus, a sliding hernia and reflux. While eating LCHF I need NO medication. When I backslide, like eating too much or eating a big carb meal, I can feel it even though it is still less than before. I'm convinced eating SAD has caused low acid production and that LCHF has helped to normalize my digestion. This year I will have another upper GI performed to see if progress other than just the reflux is actually occurring. A big thanks to this site and others for helping to educate me to make better decisions about my diet. I have a ways to go, but at least I'm heading in the right direction!!!
  4. rafael
    I am on a LC diet to reduce fat liver and just noticed that my cronic reflux is gonne.
  5. Renée
    I have been doing LCHF for 10 months & have developed acid reflux for the first time!! What am I doing wrong?? Please help!
    Reply: #61
  6. Carrie
    I Have Barretts Oesophagus, gall stones and hypothyroidism - following this lifestyle since Jan 2017 completely pain & med free (for the reflux side of things) Never felt healthier my test results are amazing. My Dr is surprised
    Reply: #81
  7. Marstar
    My reflux was caused by sensitivities to dairy and eggs! I went on an elimination diet to see what was bothering me. Can't wait to get back on LCHF!
  8. Kelly
    July 16
    I was on reflux medication twice a day for years, since going on a low carb diet in the last 5 weeks, I have only had to use my medication twice. My pain is gone.
  9. CJ
    Yes, this was an unexpected - and highly welcome - result when I returned from a trip and after seeing photos in which I didn't recognize this much bigger version of myself, I decided to stop consuming BREAD, PASTA, RICE & POTATOES for a while. All of a sudden, the daily heartburn I'd been struggling with disappeared, as well as chronically bloated tummy. Another amazing outcome was it became quite clear how much of these filler foods I was eating and didn't realize it. Forced me to get creative with my meal plans and naturally start eating much cleaner.
  10. Julie
    I have reflux and a hiatal hernia as well as mild gastritis. I've been LCHF since last September and have not found any difference in my symptoms. I've had increased stomach pain for the last 1.5 years and no answers to what is causing it (biopsy negative, no h-pylori or celiac). Although I enjoy the LCHF it hasn't helped me in this area.
  11. Wendy
    I'm losing a large amount of weight and loving everything else about low carb/high fat, but the acid reflux is really driving me crazy. Never had it before, any answers anyone?
    Reply: #63
  12. 1 comment removed
  13. Rebecca
    So one of the things that you need to do because acid reflex reacts to certain proteins so choose source of protein in the area of fish chicken turkey and you will be able to enjoy your meals. And there will be a day when Beef will be a part of your menu again.
  14. Rebecca
    Also go to your doctor and get medication to aid in the healing process, be good to yourself you'll enjoy the process of weight loss and the benefits from the low-carb even more .? Ok?
    Reply: #83
  15. Bebbana
    Absolutely yes. It works!
    I am on a paleo diet alternating with a normal diet (I have a weak will, so there is an occasional break of the paleo diet - mostly so
    For a week after the month of adherence) for last 4 months. In April I was diagnosed with reflux esophagus. Immediately after the visit I started to practice paleo. Within a few days, all problems with reflux have disappeared. I did not even start a drug treat. After a month I left for a holiday, unfortunately I started to eat again unhealthy - the reflux was back. Upon return, I started to eat low-carbohydrates again - the reflux again disappeared. Until yesterday, I had been eating regular food, including pastries and sweets, for about ten days - I started to have trouble again. Today I began eat low carb again, so far I'm fine, we'll see how it develops. But I suppose the symptoms will disappear as last.
  16. Teresa
    Yes. I had to go low-carb for my blood sugar and immediately stopped having any reflux at all.
  17. Akram
    I feel from reading this string that some people suffering the heartburn variety of reflux issues improve, while in my case (a 45 yo obese lifetime annual yoyo dieter with structural/chronic gastro problems e.g LES /hernia, silent reflux, e.g gagging/vomiting from just brushing your teeth in the morning) might make matters worse to suddenly be swimming in oil and butter, or at least that certainly happened to me.
    It seems I need to ADAPT - means no bacon, sausage and coconut oil for me just yet... when I switched to soft boiled eggs i felt better, when I stopped lathering coconut oil on top of almond muffins, I felt better, and definitely no food after 7.30 pm...when not eating for long periods E.G. involuntary fasting (due to surroundings and work crisis) I needed to double dose the wretched PPPI (first p stands for purple!) and probably a swig of maalox before bed and then I feel much better...elevated supine sleep takes care of the inflamed adenoids and deviated septum/sinus problems ... now the hard part, bringing it all together:)
    I wish Diet Dr. would add a section on us in the Adaptation section...
  18. Catherine Davison
    I have suffered with acid reflux for 20 years. Doctors always prescribed drugs. Not one ever suggested that eating low carb might help. After the first day of eating low carb I have not had a single episode of reflux. Total cure in one day - drug free.
  19. amanda walker
    actually by accident this happened to me. Low carb equals ZERO heartburn. I was just choosing a low carb diet for weight issues and on the first day of being carb free I did not have heartburn. The one day I cheated I had heartburn. I always thought it was tomatoes and red wine both remain in my low carb diet and my heart burn has vanished almost mysteriously.
  20. Lizzy
    I began suffering from acid reflux a couple of years ago. The worst of it were the two times I went on vacation, it lasted for the entire week I was on vacation, and the second time around it lasted for weeks. I tried a Prilosec course and then a Nexium double course, and always taking Zantac before and after meals. I was eating Tums all day long. I cut out coffee, red wine, spicy food, tomatoes, high fat foods, etc. Nothing would eliminate it. I started Keto 3 weeks ago and I haven't had it once. Eating Keto, obviously I am eating a very high fat diet, I have started eating spicy foods again (i love spicy food) and I have a cup of coffee with heavy cream a couple of times a week. All which have produced no heartburn. I wasn't expecting these results but I am extremely happy with them!
  21. Debora
    I have spent hours on your site learning about LCHF. I'm nearly at the end of 3 weeks and have been VERY faithful to 20 carbs per day, intermediate fasting, etc. I am a 71 woman and have been on various diets for 50 years. I haven't seen any significant weight loss yet and have been having heartburn regularly after meals. I am working with a low carb doctor and have been taking 10 mg of T3 to boot.
    Shoud I be more successful and without heartburn?
  22. Tara
    Before starting a low carb, modified keto diet 5-6 years ago, I would go through a giant bottle of Tums from Costco every month or so. I had chronic reflux. At that time I was eating a "healthy" mostly vegetarian and low fat diet.
    Upon switching to low carb 5-6 years ago, I have never needed another Tum, nor purchased anything for acid reflux since. It is simply gone. I believe my dental health is much better because of this too.
  23. Gina
    I have just begun (1 week) Keto diet switching from a LCdiet (several months). For the past 2 days I have been experiencing bloating and gas. I have never had an issue before with this. I am quite uncomfortable. any suggestions would be appreciated
  24. Dominic Lancaster
    A low carb, sprouted bread only, balanced diet with plenty of leafy vegetables cleared up my lifetime of acid reflux. I Added 3 weekly gym visits with HIIT and dropped 20 pounds and over 10 inches.
  25. Tony
    Thanks for all the contributions. I have been on LCHF for five months and find that my acid reflux is gone. I used to have it quite a lot, especially at night, when it can be really scary to have a re-gurge in your esophagus when you are half asleep. It scared me to think I might choke on my own vomit. This happens a lot to drug addicts (it is probably what killed Jimi Hendrix) but that happens because they are so heavily sedated by the drugs they are taking they do not wake up.
    I used to have to get up and take an antacid and if that did not work I would sometimes spend the whole night propped up on pillows so the re-gurge was manageable.
    Now on LCHF I have had no recurrence. The only time I had it was when I went out to a party and ate from the help yourself buffet. Boy - did I pay for that.
    The things that set me off (trigger foods) are white flour and sugar - in any form you care to think of. As long as I stay clear of them I seem to be OK.
    LCHF and intermittent fasting has changed my life. Diabetes type two is a lifestyle disease - the only way to cure it is to change the lifestyle. I am living proof that it works.
  26. Peter
    Had reflux for 20 years and medicated for 8 years. After starting LCHF I was able to reduced my medication and after 6 weeks completely stop taking any medication for reflux. Even with medication I would sometime wake up chocking on my normal diet (not good feeling). I was told by the specialist I needed to be on medication for life. Maybe I started a new life with LCHF.
  27. Jamie
    I have been on the LCHF way of eating for the last month or so. Prior to changing the way I was eating I took Tums almost daily and usually once or twice in the middle of the night. Since I have started staying away from wheat I have taken a total of 2 antacid tablets becauseI ate a taco with a flour tortillia. As a side not I have lost 10 pounds and blood sugar is riding around 79. Doesnt seem to matter what time of day. I feel great and I am going to stick with this.
  28. Matt
    Hello all, my 5c to add. I was taking Pariet for reflux for several years. I lost about 15kg using intermittent fasting this year and now rarely have reflux. When I do, I mix 1/2 a teaspoon of bicarb of soda in some water and drink it. I no longer take Pariet.
    One thing I will mention is, more than a year ago I had an episode over a week where, when I ate solid food, I would get reflux and pain in the mid abdomen. Went to hospital once, nothing found. Had a gastroscopy, nothing found. I was in agony at home after eating, vomiting. Out of desperation and suspecting that the issue was related to my spine (having been treated by chiropractors in the past), I asked my wife to rub an anti-inflammatory on my mid back around my spine - the pain stopped! Went to see my chiropractor the next day, symptoms nearly gone after an adjustment. I now self-adjust my mid-back by lying on a rolled up towel. I'm just saying don't discount the nervous system in stomach related issues, as I suspect alot of my issues were related to this.
    Good health to all
  29. gill
    Hi to all diet doc followers
    I had a stomach ulcer five years ago , was always taking antacids of various over the counter types. Then Omeprazole for years. I tried to get off it but was always in pain and went back to it after a few days.
    I was diagnosed as prediabetic in May 2017. My GMP suggested the dietdoctor site and I have been enthusiastically keeping to it since then.
    About five days after starting it I realised I was no longer having acid reflux. I stopped the Omeprazole and haven't had one since. I still have some indigestion but no painful reflux.
    A miracle.
    May the Keto be with you-- by the way, I am no longer prediabetic.
  30. Gina
    The only time my reflux symptoms go away is when I eat a low carb/high protein diet. As soon as I go back on carbs my symptoms are back even with a double dose of Prilosec. Now that Im getting older the worse it gets. It's not worth eating carbs for me. Someday I hope to be off my meds.
  31. Nina
    I have Barret esophagus too . Do you think it's safe to do ketogenic diet ? Kind of scared to try it since I was told to stay away from fatty foods.
    Reply: #109
  32. Lyne Gagné
    Hello everyont Im 52, I started IF in september 2016 and I started keto july 2017 for health cause all my familly died from cancer so I said not me, it as been a 7 mounts amazing feeling in bonus lost 20 pounds also as my husband, so now my question is I started to have heart palpitations and hair thinning and it seems it started after my fisrt 40 hour fast, and I felt great and can we get keto flu 6 mounts in? My hair is thinning and im loosing alot, my mood is not good, I have heart palpitations or vibrations hard to explain and pressure in my chest, I tought I was diying sunday night did not sleep at all, not been sleeping for 3weeks, never went to emergency before but my husband said we are going, went to hospital the ECG is ok, waiting for holter 48 hours results next week, I HOPE) saw a keto doctor last week, she said that my blood work is amazing especially my triglyceride :D we will wait to see the results of holter, but I really suspec keto flu, or hormones, going for bioidentical hormones check up next week, I been taking magnesium for a couple of mounts, I put himalayen salt on my food in my water, drink bone broth, today im doing better my night sleep was better. But when it happens its like im going to die going crazy here, I burp alot, I saw a dr at er she prescripbed pills for heart burn,the keto dr thinks that maybe my metabolism is slowing down?? I dont count my calories I eat until im stuffed and to not do long fasting anymore.
    thank you for your help xox
    she said to up my magnesium, more salt more water but If I do dont sleep better ♥
  33. Rebecca
    Thank YouI just received it with something wonderful is that the right time I thank you so much actually have been doing that but still including fruits and nothing important for me once I am back on will have a drop off of me and I feel completely different and I have gotten several other people and they have I do have one question
  34. Christie
    Developed inflammation in my esophagus I think may be esophageal stricture from excessive lemon juice over the course of a few days to detox my gallbladder. No history of reflux. Thoughts on how to get in enough animal fats without irritating my already-constricted esophagus? I had a small plate of salmon with cooked down greens and 2 Tbsp butter and felt like I was having a heart attack. Sticking to olive oil right now.
  35. Jim
    I have been using reflux meds daily for over 20 years. A year ago I thought I would try to wean myself off. Missing my dose for one day was miserable. I found this sight and started LCHF and two weeks later I had a day where when getting ready for bed I realized I had accidentally forget my medication and didn’t even notice.
    The third week, which was last week, I went every other day with NO real issues. This week I am going to go off for two days at a time and I am pretty confident it will be a success.
  36. Marlene
    I had severe reflux for about fifteen years. Omeprazol worked initially but then failed on the second attempt. After that, non of the proton pump inhibitors worked for me.

    For many years only peptac gave some relief. There was no logic to my redux, eat a certain food one day, I’d be fine. But eat it the following day and I’d pay the price of reflux. I must say that any stress would always take reflux to another level. If I get a cold or flu, my throat and esophagus is very sore. I gargle night and morning with warm salt water. This works for me by killing the bacteria I suspect.

    After six months of a moderately low carb diet, I rarely eat sugar, and I loose too much wait fasting, I rarely get reflux.

    I initially started low carb to improve cholesterol levels, still haven’t got around to getting it checked yet, but I will. The added bonus of a clearer mind for me is amazing.

  37. 1 comment removed
  38. SuzyQ
    Keto Diet will cure Acid Re-flux & Heartburn in a few days. Keto Diet will heal Barrett's Esophagus in 6 to 8 weeks. Consume zero known carbohydrates. There are hidden or unknown carbohydrates in many foods, so the goal is to simply avoid breads and grains entirely.
  39. Mary
    I cut out potatoes, pasta and bread just to be healthier and my reflux completely disappeared. I had been taking meds for it for years. A nice side effect was that I lost 35 pounds. I have to be more creative now with the meals but I feel good and energized after eating instead of tired and bloated. And I noticed that I can eat pizza every once in while without getting heartburn.
  40. Josh
    Yes, it has helped me. I used to take ranitidine 150mg everyday to control heartburn. I no longer need it. I've been on keto since August 2018 and just realized today (9/11/18) I haven't taken a pill in over a month. That's why I am here at this site. I wanted to see if keto was the cause. HAHA.
  41. Nancy Theiss
    My husband almost died from an ulcer bleed in his esophagus -his gastro doctors said, after surgery, that diet wouldnt matter- he continued to eat what he had in the past and took prescribed medications (that we found were not good long term) so he took pepsids and other meds like tums-this summer we began a keto diet-and all his acid reflux disappeared-it was like a miracle cure-before doing low carb, as his wife, I felt we were waiting for another life threatening bleed-I am telling anyone with acid reflux that we have found a cure for personal life threatening circumstances-the elimination of carbs has resulted in a very happy and personally life rewarding experience-We have been surprised that the medical profession-particularly gastro doctors , are so far behind in this treatment-as eating low carbs now we realize how carbs have affected American lifestyles-our diets are just way too weighted in these sugars. I hope people who read this and have similar problems try a low carb diet-it doesnt cost anything but an adjustment in monitoring what you eat in the way of carbs each day. Any diet that limits the carbs we think would be of benefit.
  42. Jim Hassan
    Started H2 blockers in1984.......34 years ago. Switched to PPI when became available. On them for 20+ years. Every time I tried to stop stomach went into crisis. I tried for years to get off acid blockers. And I eat well........no junk.....good wholesome food. Low carb diet.........cured. Are you kidding me? The doctors don't know this? 34 years and just like that ....... gone. I go back to eating carbs acid reflux returns every time. Off carbs goes away. I'm pissed at doctors and drug companies. Just diagnosed with osteopenia because PPI's inhibit the absorption of calcium. Doctors figured that out but they couldn't figure out that a simple dietary change cures acid reflux. Come on.
  43. Mary
    I first had reflux with heartburn, occasionally excessive where symptoms reached as far as my jaw. I identified foods that caused it, mostly coffee and chocolate. After eliminating those foods, I did well for a period of time. Then, I started having LPR symptoms, including mucous in throat, a mild sore throat, and a husky voice, which occurred after drinking carbonated beverages—-so I stopped drinking them. After doing Keto for about a month, I tried a carbonated drink, and I didn’t have the symptoms. I’m really encouraged by this, and will discuss it with my doctor at my next visit. Would love to stop taking ppi’s!
  44. Stephanie
    I have heartburn every time I have simple carbs and when I go back to the keto diet, it disappears. I must get my carbs from vegetables and fruits like berries only. Anything with bread, no matter how nutritious causes me a lot of pain.
  45. Sarah
    I have been taking Nexium every day for 10 years. I have been doing Keto for 6 weeks now and no change. I experimented not taking a tablet and was in pain by early afternoon. How long do you need to do Keto before noticing change with reflux? I am on 20g or less carbs per day.
    Reply: #96
  46. Kristin Parker Team Diet Doctor
    Sarah, a lot of that is going to depend on the cause of the reflux. Hopefully you will see a lessening of the pain soon.
  47. Sarah
    Thanks Kristin.
  48. Victoria
    I have suffered from heartburn since childhood. Nothing major, but I learned that certain foods like chicken giblet risotto, or spaghetti Bolognese would trigger an episode. As I aged, the episodes increased in frequency and the triggers broadened, until in 2005 I had a full blown oesophageal inflammation which ruined my Christmas. I was prescribed a 12 week course of PPIs which I stuck to with the intention of then scaling back the dose for long term maintenance. At some point though I started wondering about the consequences of long term use and heard about the osteoporosis. I stopped using the low dosage PPIs in 2010 and have managed to keep major incidents at bay through judicious use of antacids as required. Not ideal I know! Anyway, I started the Keto lifestyle just under a month ago. Apart from one occasion when I stupidly overate a particularly delicious meal, I have not suffered from heartburn. I hope this continues. It will be interesting to see if I get the “backlash” that some other sufferers have reported above. I do wish that the many doctors I have consulted over the years had not been so quick to reach for the prescription pad.
  49. John Tetreault
    I have a LapBand adjustable gastric band, so I'm no stranger to reflux. I had been on Esomeprazole for so long i actually developed a magnesium deficiency which caused heart rhythm irregularities. And when i tried coming off the Esomeprazole, the reflux was unbearable. I've since switched to a ketogenic diet since July 2018, and i have not had to take ANY esomeprazole since. I did go off keto briefly over the Thanksgiving holiday (its too difficult to expect relatives I'm visiting to adhere to keto)... The reflux returned with a vengeance, i was popping Tums like candy for 3 days.... Now back on Keto, and the reflux has again abated within 48 hours of cutting carbs. Proof positive that keto cures GERD for me.
  50. georgina
    I have been on the LCHF diet for nearly six weeks now and feel fine except for a very sore tongue (I suffer from reflux and take omeprazole) and my blood pressure is very high in the evening and morning before I take my Ramipril . high being 146 over 92. I also have palpitations at any time of day. It spoils everything having such a sore mouth all the time. Do you think reducing the stomach acid with PPIs affects the digestion of fat?
1 2 3

Leave a reply

Reply to comment #0 by

Older posts