In just the last couple of years, people have been going crazy for gluten-free diets (even non-Celiacs!) because they’ve gotten a reputation for being “healthier” than traditional diets - a fact which is of great debate. While cutting out gluten has little to no health benefit for people without a gluten-intolerance, going gluten-free has been noted to alleviate the symptoms in patients with certain intestinal or GI conditions, such as IBS. This news has raised questions about whether a gluten-free diet might reduce the symptoms of other chronic GI conditions, such as GERD.
If you suffer from GERD and have been wondering whether to eliminate gluten from your diet, it’s important to first educate yourself. Before you start tossing your gluten-rich foods and going gluten-free for GERD, let’s take a look at whether the diet actually has anything to offer for people with symptoms of acid reflux and GERD.
The idea of trying a gluten-free diet to reduce symptoms of GERD originated with Celiac patients who suffered from GERD-related symptoms.
In one study by the NCBI (National Center For Biotechnology Information) for people with Celiac’s Disease and atypical GERD (which does not lead to acid erosion of the esophagus), the results suggested that a gluten-free diet could help with reducing GERD symptoms and in the prevention of recurrence.
In addition to this, an article published in the September 2011 issue of Diseases of The Esophagus noted several studies that had shown that a gluten-free diet could efficiently reduce the symptoms of GERD and reduce recurrence.
Despite these studies and many other personal testimonies of individuals who swear for going gluten-free for GERD, most experts find that the gluten-GERD link is no link at all. They believe that the similar esophageal symptoms are only due to the damage both diseases unleash upon the intestines and that any other similarities or gluten-free diet improvement to symptoms are merely coincidental.
Studies like the ones mentioned above are sparse and there are many more that have shown the opposite. A reflux surgeon will probably point to the fact that GERD and Celiac Disease are caused by completely different factors and stem from different areas of the gastrointestinal system, therefore going gluten-free is unlikely to improve the symptoms of GERD.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to test whether the gluten-GERD myth (which some people swear by) works for you or not: go gluten-free for at least six weeks! To do so, make sure to avoid any foods containing wheat, rye, and barley grains which are found in bread, cereal, pasta, and many processed foods.
Most importantly, make sure to NOT discontinue your regular GERD-related diet (i.e. be sure to continue avoiding trigger foods, even if they do happen to be gluten-free). Also, remember that lifestyle and diet changes will only serve to manage or reduce your symptoms of GERD, they do not take away your GERD. The only way to eliminate all of your symptoms of GERD once and for all is with anti-reflux surgery.
Before going gluten-free for GERD, make sure to speak to a reflux surgeon at Tampa Bay Reflux Center. To learn more about GERD, or about helpful lifestyle and diet changes to help you manage your symptoms of GERD, contact us! Be sure to ask about our treatment options for GERD, including our surgery options: Nissen Fundoplication, TIF/Esophyx, and Linx® Reflux Management System.