The Gluten-Free Diet: Does it help with GERD symptoms?
A big new trend in the diet world is the “gluten-free” diet, which prohibits the eating of foods like wheat, barley and rye that contain the protein gluten. Though a necessity for the gluten-allergic sufferers of a disorder called celiac disease, the gluten-free diet has caught on as another weight loss diet fad, though its potential for losing weight is still highly contested.
Head to the local supermarket and you’re likely to find all sorts of gluten-free products you may not have noticed before. They’re popping up more and more—by 2015, revenue from gluten-free food and beverage sales is expected to reach the $5 billion mark—but do they have any actual benefits for those who aren’t allergic to gluten?
Studies show that eating gluten-free may actually help sufferers of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) to reduce reflux symptoms. Of course, the idea is still contested, and if you’re a sufferer of chronic GERD symptoms, eating gluten-free is no replacement for proven surgical solutions like Nissen Fundoplication.
The GERD-Gluten Connection
Though the link is still unclear, many published studies have shown that reducing the amount of gluten in your diet can help control reflux symptoms and reduce the chances of recurrence. Celiac disease and GERD share some symptoms like vomiting and difficulty in swallowing, leading some experts to suspect that intolerance to gluten could lead to the advancement of GERD. Obviously, this means a gluten-free diet is most important to keep sufferers of celiac disease from also developing GERD, but researchers also concluded that a gluten-free diet may reduce the damaging effects of reflux overall.
Other experts are less convinced, citing the fact that GERD and celiac disease are caused by factors in entirely different areas of the gastrointestinal system. Celiac disease strikes in the small intestine, while GERD is a problem in the stomach and esophagus. Detractors say that any esophageal symptoms for sufferers of gluten intolerance are purely coincidental.
Change Your Diet
If you suffer from chronic GERD symptoms, you’ve likely already eliminated certain foods that cause your GERD symptoms to worsen, like spicy, fatty or acidic foods, alcohol, caffeine and chocolate. Though the gluten-free diet’s effects on reducing GERD’s impact are still up for debate, with so many gluten-free options on the market, giving the gluten-free diet a shot is easier than ever. Of course, you should always consult with Dr. Bagnato before changing your GERD diet, but Gluten-free GERD proponents suggest trying a gluten-free diet for about six weeks in order to effectively determine whether or not gluten is increasing the discomfort of your GERD symptoms.