09/08/2017 13:49 EDT | Updated 09/08/2017 13:49 EDT

A Vegetarian Diet Could Be The Ideal Acid Reflux Remedy

This could be huge.

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If you've ever experienced acid reflux or heartburn, you know how uncomfortable that burning sensation can be. But if you're like many people, you just pop an antacid and tell yourself, "I probably shouldn't eat that much next time."

Now one study is saying you might not need that medication at all — that is, if you become a vegetarian at least 90 per cent of the time.

In a paper published in the JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, researchers compared taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), the type of medication that reduces gastric acid, with eating a Mediterranean diet, which was almost entirely vegetarian.

Interestingly, the type of reflux looked at in this study wasn't the more commonly known GERD (also known as heartburn, or that burning sensation in your chest and esophagus after you've eaten something that doesn't agree with you).

They were focused on laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), or silent reflux, which is often misdiagnosed in adults because it looks like something else.

Instead, they were focused on laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), or silent reflux, which is when stomach acid comes up even higher, into the laryngopharynx. It is often misdiagnosed in adults because it can present like something else, according to WebMD — say, the feeling of persistent mucous in the throat, or a cough that stays around forever.

The research, which was done on a small sample size of 184 patients, found that there was as significant a reduction in reflux symptoms for subjects on the diet as there was for those using the medication. There were a few reasons considered as to why this might the case, including potential weight loss that might have occurred (a lower BMI is correlated with less acid reflux), as well as vegetable-based food choices replacing options that might exacerbate the symptoms.

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But considering the news released earlier this year linking PPIs to an increased risk of death, not to mention the cost associated with constantly buying medication — and oh yes, the well-documented benefits of eating more of a plant-based diet — it seems that for anyone experiencing these kinds of symptoms, olives and nuts might be the way to go.

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