A pinboard by
Gemma Zeybel

PhD, MRes, BSc Hons


Burning chest? what to eat during gastro-oesophageal reflux disease

In 10 seconds? Heartburn and regurgitation are well known symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux. Did you know reflux can travel into the aero-digestive tract? Extra-oesophageal reflux can cause chronic cough, wheezing and runny nose? For some people this can all be due to the diet. Dietary and lifestyle advice aims to reduce symptoms and the associated complications.

Don’t believe it? Many studies show saturated fat and LDL cholesterol are associated with reflux. This could be the reason why people who are overweight and obese suffer with it.

But, antacid medication is available to treat reflux? Antacid medication neutralizes the contents of the stomach. Yet, reflux still occurs. The refluxate contains bacteria and potent agents (pepsin and bile acids). Experimental studies have found that this refluxate can damage the oesophageal mucosa.

A study found that dietary fibre reduced the risk of reflux events occurring. Fruit and vegetables are a good source of fibre. People who exercise and eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables complain of reflux symptoms less.

So what should one eat to prevent or reduce symptoms of gastro/extra oesophageal reflux?

  • avoid foods high in saturated fat and high in LDL cholesterol
  • have good portion control
  • maintain a healthy weight This can be achieved by eating a healthy diet. Include more than 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Also, exercise for 30 minutes each day to reduce weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Research to reduce symptoms of reflux continues, especially in patients who do not respond to medication. British patients took part in a 3 month behaviour change intervention. Afterwards, they understood how reflux occurred and could manage the symptoms themselves.

This board focuses on nutrition and gastro-oesophageal reflux.


Dietary intake and the risk of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: a cross sectional study in volunteers.

Abstract: Although diet has been associated with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), the role of dietary components (total energy, macro and micronutrients) is unknown. We examined associations of GORD symptoms with intakes of specific dietary components.We conducted a cross sectional study in a sample of employees (non-patients) at the Houston VAMC. The Gastro Esophageal Reflux Questionnaire was used to identify the onset, frequency, and severity of GORD symptoms. Dietary intake (usual frequency of consumption of various foods and portion sizes) over the preceding year was assessed using the Block 98 food frequency questionnaire. Upper endoscopy was offered to all participants and oesophageal erosions recorded according to the LA classification. We compared the dietary intake (macronutrients, micronutrients, food groups) of participants with or without GORD symptoms, or erosive oesophagitis. Stepwise multiple logistic regression analyses were used to examine associations between nutrients and GORD symptoms or oesophageal erosions, adjusting for demographic characteristics, body mass index (BMI), and total energy intake.A total of 371 of 915 respondents (41%) had complete and interpretable answers to both heartburn and regurgitation questions and met validity criteria for the Block 98 FFQ. Mean age was 43 years, 260 (70%) were women, and 103 (28%) reported at least weekly occurrences of heartburn or regurgitation. Of the 164 respondents on whom endoscopies were performed, erosive oesophagitis was detected in 40 (24%). Compared to participants without GORD symptoms, daily intakes of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, percentage of energy from dietary fat, and average fat servings were significantly higher in participants with GORD symptoms. In addition, there was a dose-response relationship between GORD and saturated fat and cholesterol. The effect of dietary fat became non-significant when adjusted for BMI. However, high saturated fat, cholesterol, or fat servings were associated with GORD symptoms only in participants with a BMI >25 kg/m2 (effect modification). Fibre intake remained inversely associated with the risk of GORD symptoms in adjusted full models. Participants with erosive oesophagitis had significantly higher daily intakes of total fat and protein than those without it (p<0.05).In this cross sectional study, high dietary fat intake was associated with an increased risk of GORD symptoms and erosive oesophagitis while high fibre intake correlated with a reduced risk of GORD symptoms. It is unclear if the effects of dietary fat are independent of obesity.

Pub.: 14 Dec '04, Pinned: 23 Apr '17

Lifestyle factors and symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux -- a population-based study.

Abstract: Although the symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease are common in the general adult population, the aetiology of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is still largely unknown. Lifestyle factors such as diet, body mass index, and smoking have been frequently suggested as possible risk factors.In the present study, we investigated the relationship between various lifestyle factors and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease symptoms.A total of 7124 subjects were interviewed as part of the German National Health Interview and Examination Survey, a representative sample of the general adult population. We examined a variety of possible risk factors, including age, gender, body mass index, smoking, alcohol consumption, sports and different foods. To investigate the association between lifestyle and symptoms, we used a multiple logistic regression model, including various gastro-oesophageal reflux disease patient characteristics.We found an association among those with reflux symptoms who were overweight and obese (odds ratio: 1.8, 95% confidence interval: 1.5-2.2; odds ratio: 2.6, 95% confidence interval: 2.2-3.2), respectively. Further risk factors included smoking and the frequent consumption of spirits, sweets, or white bread. Physical activity and the consumption of fruits seemed to have some protective effect.Lifestyle factors -- in particular overweight, obesity and smoking -- were associated with increased reflux symptoms.

Pub.: 06 Jan '06, Pinned: 23 Apr '17

Review article: the patient with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease--lifestyle advice and medication.

Abstract: Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a highly prevalent disorder in all Western countries. Interestingly, prevalence rates appear to be increasing in these countries, with a remarkable increase of GERD-related lethal and nonlethal complications. However, these complications are rare on a global scale. This review aims to summarize the current concepts of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that need to be considered whilst caring for patients with these disorders. GERD is defined by the augmented exposure of oesophageal mucosa to acidic content, and is associated with specific symptoms or mucosal lesions. A number of factors may contribute to the manifestation of GERD. Although recent studies emphasize the role of genetic factors, there are many other risk factors that play a pivotal role in the development of GERD and GERD complications. Some nutritional factors are believed to aggravate acidic reflux either by delaying gastric emptying or diminishing the pressure of the lower oesophageal sphincters. Patients are often advised to sleep with their heads elevated, but this advice is not easy to follow and has not been proven effective with regard to long-term outcome. Other lifestyle modifications include changes to the patient's diet, which are important but not frequently sufficient. Thus, medication is usually necessary for symptom control. Proton pump inhibitors are now mainstream treatment for the reduction of acid secretion in patients with severe manifestations and 4-week healing rates are approaching 90%.

Pub.: 04 Dec '04, Pinned: 23 Apr '17

Review article: treatment for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease--lifestyle advice and medication.

Abstract: Management of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is aimed at reducing oesophageal acid exposure to achieve symptom relief. Therapy has traditionally included advice to the patient on diet and lifestyle management. Recent evidence suggests, however, that some specific dietary modifications may be applicable to the Japanese patient. For example, ingestion of Japanese sweet cakes or rice cakes should be avoided by the Japanese patient with GERD as these foods may provoke heartburn. Pharmacological therapy is, however, usually also required for effective symptom relief. While antacids and histamine H(2)-receptor antagonists have a role in treating mild GERD, effective relief of many cases of oesophagitis is usually only achieved by using proton-pump inhibitors such as lansoprazole, omeprazole and rabeprazole. In the Japanese population, variation in the genetic polymorphism of CYP2C19 (a cytochrome P450 isoenzyme) leads to considerable inter-individual unpredictability in the activity of lansoprazole and omeprazole due to inter-individual differences in the extent to which these agents are metabolized. Consequently, rabeprazole, which does not undergo hepatic biotransformation by CYP2C19, offers significant advantages over the other PPIs as a result of its more predictable activity. This, coupled with its more rapid onset of action, leads to a more efficient and less variable acid-suppressing effect.

Pub.: 04 Dec '04, Pinned: 23 Apr '17

Assessment of dietary nutrients that influence perception of intra-oesophageal acid reflux events in patients with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.

Abstract: Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease symptoms are most commonly reported postprandially, suggesting that some diet components are likely to induce symptoms more than others.To determine which of the various dietary nutrients is a strong predictive factor for symptom generation in association with an acid reflux event.Subjects with typical heartburn symptoms were evaluated by the gastro-oesophageal reflux disease Symptom Checklist, demographics questionnaire, upper endoscopy and pH testing. During the pH study, patients completed a detailed 24-h dietary intake record. This included time of meals, description of food components and the amount and type of food preparation.Fifty gastro-oesophageal reflux disease patients completed all stages of the study. A total of 112 (78%) symptoms were considered as sensed reflux event. Body mass index did not correlate with having perceived reflux. Patients who consumed more cholesterol, saturated fatty acids and had more percentage calories from fat were significantly more likely to experience a perceived reflux event. Regression analysis and beta-coefficient were specifically significant for cholesterol.Of all dietary nutrients, cholesterol enhances the most the perception of intra-oesophageal acid reflux events in patients with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.

Pub.: 19 Jan '07, Pinned: 23 Apr '17

Don't eat tomatoes: patient's self-reported experiences of causes of symptoms in gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.

Abstract: About 30-50% of patients with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) experience refractory symptoms despite taking proton pump inhibitors regularly. Epidemiology studies suggest lifestyle risks, but these are under-represented in existing guidelines. The potential for changes to positively impact on symptoms may be underestimated. Lifestyle advice currently appears to be ineffective.To inform the future design of a behaviour change intervention aimed at improving symptoms for patients with GORD, by exploring patient understanding and experiences of lifestyle influences on GORD symptoms.We conducted semi-structured interviews with 23 patients (12 women and 11 men) aged 30-86 years, aiming to identify lifestyle influences perceived by patients to affect their symptoms.Patients reported a wide range of daily influences on their symptoms, including diet, drinking with a meal, body position, alcohol, gaining weight, stress and anxiety. Dietary influences included types of food eaten and eating pattern-including speed of eating and meal size. Many foods were identified as troublesome, but not all foods affected all patients. Eating late and daytime tiredness were not recognized as causes or consequences of night-time reflux.Patients stated that daily living patterns affected their reflux symptoms, but influences were highly variable between respondents. Lifestyle factors appear to combine in unique patterns for individuals, but GORD patients may not be able to identify potential triggers and make changes for themselves. A behaviour change intervention might prove beneficial to these patients.

Pub.: 22 Apr '10, Pinned: 23 Apr '17

Dietary factors and the risks of oesophageal adenocarcinoma and Barrett's oesophagus.

Abstract: Incidence rates for oesophageal adenocarcinoma have increased by over 500% during the past few decades without clear reasons. Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, obesity and smoking have been identified as risk factors, although the demographic distribution of these risk factors is not consistent with the demographic distribution of oesophageal adenocarcinoma, which is substantially more common among whites and males than any other demographic groups. Numerous epidemiological studies have suggested associations between dietary factors and the risks of oesophageal adenocarcinoma and its precursor, Barrett's oesophagus, though a comprehensive review is lacking. The main aim of the present review is to consider the evidence linking dietary factors with the risks of oesophageal adenocarcinoma, Barrett's oesophagus, and the progression from Barrett's oesophagus to oesophageal adenocarcinoma. The existing epidemiological evidence is strongest for an inverse relationship between intake of vitamin C, β-carotene, fruits and vegetables, particularly raw fruits and vegetables and dark green, leafy and cruciferous vegetables, carbohydrates, fibre and Fe and the risk of oesophageal adenocarcinoma and Barrett's oesophagus. Patients at higher risk for Barrett's oesophagus and oesophageal adenocarcinoma may benefit from increasing their consumption of fruits and vegetables and reducing their intake of red meat and other processed food items. Further research is needed to evaluate the relationship between diet and the progression of Barrett's oesophagus to oesophageal adenocarcinoma. Evidence from cohort studies will help determine whether randomised chemoprevention trials are warranted for the primary prevention of Barrett's oesophagus or its progression to cancer.

Pub.: 14 Jul '10, Pinned: 23 Apr '17

Normal values of 24-h ambulatory intraluminal impedance combined with pH-metry in subjects eating a Mediterranean diet.

Abstract: Multichannel intraluminal impedance combined with pH-metry is a novel technique for studying gastro-oesophageal reflux. As refluxes are particularly frequent after meals, we carried out this study in order to assess the impact of a Mediterranean diet on normal values of impedancemetry.Twenty-five Italian healthy subjects (13 men, median age 29 years, range 22-67 years) without reflux symptoms were recruited for this study. They underwent oesophageal 24-h impedance + pH-metry. A Mediterranean diet was given to all subjects on the day of examination and its total energy intake was 9668.5 kJ (2300 kcal).A total of 1518 refluxes were recorded during 24 h with more upright than recumbent episodes (median 15 versus 0; p<0.01). The median total acid exposure time was 0.5% (range 0-4.2%). Acid and weakly acidic refluxes were equally reported (49% versus 51%). Weakly acidic episodes were more frequent than acid ones during 1-h postprandial periods (68% versus 32%; p<0.0001). Liquid-only and mixed refluxes reached the proximal oesophagus (15 cm above lower oesophageal sphincter) in 42.6% of cases. Median acid clearing time was longer than median bolus clearing time (28 s versus 12 s; p<0.01).This study provides normal values of pH-impedancemetry in Italian people eating a Mediterranean diet and are suitable for comparative pathophysiological investigations on reflux patients who have dietary habits similar to those of our country.

Pub.: 17 Feb '06, Pinned: 23 Apr '17

Barrett's metaplasia: molecular mechanisms and nutritional influences.

Abstract: Barrett's metaplasia is discussed in the context of a general theory for the formation of metaplasias based on developmental biology. The phenotype of a particular tissue type becomes established during embryonic development by the expression of a specific set of transcription factors. If this combination becomes altered, then the tissue type can be altered. Such events may occur by mutation or by environmental effects on gene expression, normally within the stem cell population of the tissue. A macroscopic patch of metaplastic tissue will arise only if the new gene activity state is self-sustaining in the absence of its original causes, and if the new tissue type can outgrow the parent tissue type. An important candidate gene for the causation of Barrett's metaplasia is Cdx2 (Caudal-type homeobox 2). In normal development, this is expressed in the future intestine, but not the future foregut. Mouse knockout studies have shown that it is needed for intestinal development, and that its loss from adult intestine can lead to squamous transformations. It is also expressed in Barrett's metaplasia and can be activated in oesophageal cell cultures by treatment with bile acids. We have investigated the ability of Cdx2 to bring about intestinal transformations in oesophageal epithelium. Our results show that Cdx2 can activate a programme of intestinal gene expression when overexpressed in HET-1A cells, or in fetal epithelium, but not in the adult epithelium. This suggests that Cdx2, although necessary for formation of intestinal tissue, is not sufficient to provoke Barrett's metaplasia in adult life and that overexpression of additional transcription factors is necessary. In terms of diet and nutrition, there is a known association of Barrett's metaplasia with obesity. This may work through an increased risk of gastro-oesophageal reflux. Acid and bile are known to activate Cdx2 expression in oesophageal cells. It may also increase circulating levels of TNFalpha (tumour necrosis factor alpha), which activates Cdx2. In addition, there may be effects of diet on the composition of the bile.

Pub.: 20 Mar '10, Pinned: 23 Apr '17

Dietary intervention in the treatment of patients with cough and symptoms suggestive of airways reflux as determined by Hull airways Reflux Questionnaire.

Abstract: Chronic cough is a common and distressing symptom. Gastro-oesophageal reflux is a common cause of chronic cough however the symptom complex in cough is not confined to classic peptic symptoms. Dyspeptic symptoms have previously been shown to respond to dietary modifications and weight loss. We hypothesised that weight reduction maybe a useful non-pharmacological strategy in reducing reflux cough in the obese.Subjects with cough were recruited from Hull Cough Clinic. They were randomised to one of two open parallel groups; one receiving the traditional dietary modifications and the other weight reduction advice in the form of an Energy Prescription (EP). Cough symptoms, using the Leicester cough questionnaire (LCQ) and dietary intake were measured at the start and end of the study.Thirty-three patients were recruited and 20 patients completed the study. Mean weight loss was 3.1 kg (p < 0.001) and reported an improvement in the LCQ (mean improvement 3.1); which is greater than the clinically significant score of 1.3. . Moreover, secondary outcomes showed a significant association between baseline high calorie (r = -0.24; p < 0.001) and fat intake (r = -0.36; p = 0.001), and LCQ scores.A high calorie and fat intake is strongly correlated with cough score. Irrespective of diet, weight loss is associated with a reduction in cough symptoms. Asking patients to lose weight by reducing fat and calorie intake may be a simple strategy to ameliorate this intractable condition.The study was approved by the local research ethics committee (South Humber Local Research Ethics Committee; REC04/Q1105/62). The study was registered with the Research and Development Department, Clinical Governance Directorate, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust (reference number R0086).

Pub.: 02 Jan '14, Pinned: 23 Apr '17

Non-pharmacological intervention for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease in primary care.

Abstract: Up to 50% of patients with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) have persistent symptoms despite taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) regularly. Lifestyle advice is available to patients, but no previous UK study has tested a behavioural change intervention to help patients self-manage their symptoms.To determine whether a primary care, nurse-led intervention to address behaviours that promote GORD symptoms results in symptom improvement, an increased sense of control, and a reduced requirement for prescribed medication.A group intervention focusing on diet and stress was delivered to patients with reflux symptoms, recruited in rural general practices.General practice in England.Forty-two subjects (male 19, female 23) aged 31-86 years took part. Pre- and post-intervention data were gathered using the Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire (BIPQ), the GORD Impact Scale (GIS), and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HAD).There was a significant improvement (BIPQ P<0.001, GIS P = 0.008) 3 months after the intervention. There was no reduction in PPI use or change in HAD score. The greatest improvements were demonstrated in domains measuring the patient's sense of control, perception of symptoms, and understanding of reflux. Patients reported benefits including understanding relevant anatomy and physiology, learning behavioural techniques to change eating patterns and manage stress, identifying actual and potential triggers, and developing and executing action plans.An education programme for GORD enhances self-management, brings perceived symptom improvement, and promotes a sense of control at 3 months. This type of behavioural intervention, alongside medical management, could improve symptom control for reflux patients with refractory symptoms and should be the subject of a controlled trial.

Pub.: 15 Dec '10, Pinned: 23 Apr '17

Review article: reflux and its consequences--the laryngeal, pulmonary and oesophageal manifestations. Conference held in conjunction with the 9th International Symposium on Human Pepsin (ISHP) Kingston-upon-Hull, UK, 21-23 April 2010.

Abstract: Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is one of the commonest diseases of Western populations, affecting 20 to 30% of adults. GERD is multifaceted and the classical oesophageal symptoms such as heartburn and regurgitation often overlap with atypical symptoms that impact upon the respiratory system and airways. This is referred to as extra-oesophageal reflux disease (EERD), or laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), which manifests as chronic cough, laryngitis, hoarseness, voice disorders and asthma.The 'Reflux and its consequences' conference was held in Hull in 2010 and brought together a multidisciplinary group of experts all with a common interest in the many manifestations of reflux disease to present recent research and clinical progress in GERD and EERD. In particular new techniques for diagnosing reflux were showcased at the conference.Both clinical and non-clinical key opinion leaders were invited to write a review on key areas presented at the `Reflux and its consequences' conference for inclusion in this supplement.Eleven chapters contained in this supplement reflected the sessions of the conference and included discussion of the nature of the refluxate (acid, pepsin, bile acids and non-acid reflux); mechanisms of tissue damage and protection in the oesophagus, laryngopharynx and airways. Clinical conditions with a reflux aetiology including asthma, chronic cough, airway disease, LPR, and paediatric EERD were reviewed. In addition methods for diagnosis of reflux disease and treatment strategies, especially with reference to non-acid reflux, were considered.

Pub.: 05 Mar '11, Pinned: 26 Apr '17