Planning meals and making healthy food choices typically centers around nutritional benefits. However, some individuals must make additional considerations when planning meals. For instance, if you are diagnosed with laryngopharyngeal reflux, or LPR -- a gastrointestinal issue -- the foods you choose can impact your symptoms. Physicians recommend making dietary modifications, such as following a low-acid diet, to help manage your condition.
Understanding Laryngopharyngeal Reflux
Acid is a normal part of the fluid environment in your stomach and plays a role in aiding digestion. The lower esophageal sphincter -- a muscle at the top of the stomach -- prevents acid from entering your esophagus. The upper esophageal sphincter is located at the top of the esophagus and prevents back-flow of acid into sensitive tissues such as your larynx, or voice box. Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD, occurs when acid backs up into the esophagus. When the upper esophageal sphincter isn't working properly and allows acid to back up into the voice box and other sensitive areas, it's called LPR.
Dietary Intervention Data
Researchers from the Voice Institute of New York conducted a small study that yielded promising results after a two-week dietary intervention. The study found that following a low-acid diet improved LPR symptoms in 95 percent of participants, according to results published in the May 2011 issue of "The Annals of Octology, Rhinology and Laryngology" journal. Participants eliminated all acid foods and beverages with a pH below five.
Low-Acid Meal Plan
Talk to your doctor about following a low-acid diet to help manage your LPR. Your physician can provide a complete list of acidic foods, but examples include tomatoes, garlic, onions, chocolate, oranges and other citrus fruits such as grapefruit. Acidic beverages include coffee, alcohol, sodas and juices made from acid fruits. It's generally a good idea to stick to low-acid foods, at least until your symptoms improve. Most vegetables are low acid, as well as certain fruits such as bananas.
Other Dietary Recommendations
Avoid spicy foods, because they may irritate the esophageal lining. Also, as high-fat foods can increase acid secretion, avoid fatty foods as well, including fried foods, full-fat dairy products and high-fat desserts, notes the Paparella Ear, Head & Neck Institute. Eat several small meals throughout the day, instead of three large meals. This may help reduce reflux symptoms, according to Loyola Medicine. In addition, wait at least two to three hours after dinner before you lie down. Because nicotine can aggravate LPR, Loyola Medicine advises that you stop smoking.
- Loyola Medicine: Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) and Vocal Difficulty
- The Annals of Octology, Rhinology and Laryngology: Low-acid Diet for Recalcitrant Laryngopharyngeal Reflux: Therapeutic Benefits and Their Implications
- Heart Spring: List of Alkaline Foods, The pH Balanced Diet
- Paparella Ear, Head & Neck Institute, P.A.: Reflux Disease And Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease Nutritional Guidelines
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.