What can I do to reduce silent reflux?

Moshe Ephrat, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)
The main treatment option for silent reflux starts with diet modification and lifestyle changes. Watch as ENT surgeon Moshe Ephrat, MD, discusses the various foods and drinks that typically cause acid reflux symptoms and what you can do to heal.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Here’s how silent reflux works: Ordinarily, your stomach makes enzymes that are activated by stomach acid to digest food. When one of those enzymes, called pepsin, travels out of the stomach as a result of your lying down or normal reflux, it can latch on to the throat and stay there. After that, any acid, from food going down or acid traveling up from your stomach, can activate those enzymes to eat away at the throat’s lining. Those enzymes cause your esophagus to swell, numbing the nerves that detect pain, so unlike “traditional” acid reflux, silent reflux doesn’t create the heartburn sensation in your lower chest to indicate the presence of acid.

Making simple changes to your diet can allow you to get your silent reflux in check. Here is a three-step prevention plan to stop silent reflux before it starts.

Step 1: Deacidify the Foods in Your Diet

By eliminating foods that create acid in your stomach or have a high acid content as they pass through your throat, you’ll reduce the chance of those stomach enzymes irritating your throat. Cut out acid-causing foods like chocolate, deep-fried foods, mints, and even certain healthy foods like tomatoes and onions. Instead, replace them with alkaline foods that actually reduce the amount of acid your stomach creates, like green vegetables, bananas, almond milk, and oatmeal. In just two weeks, the majority of your reflux symptoms should be reduced significantly.

Step 2: Eliminate the Four Cs

Caffeine, citrus, carbonated beverages (including seltzer), and cocktails all stir up acid in the stomach. And if you’re wondering what’s so bad about seltzer, stomach acid can essentially latch onto the carbonation bubbles, traveling up to your throat like a hot air balloon to activate the damaging pepsin enzyme!

Step 3: Send Canned and Processed Foods to the Trash

Cancer of the esophagus is up 850% since the 1970s, much of which can be attributed to changes in the American diet. So much of what we eat today undergoes a chemical acidification process in order to be preserved in cans or packages with ingredients like citric acid and ascorbic acid. When we eat those foods, we expose our throats to those additional acids, which of course can then activate the enzymes that eat away at our esophageal lining. Avoid canned and processed foods as much as possible, opting instead for fresh, delicious organic or all-natural foods. Your taste buds, and your esophagus, will thank you!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.