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Primal and "silent" reflux (asthma symptoms)

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  • Primal and "silent" reflux (asthma symptoms)

    Long time reader, first post here. I've gravitated to a lower carb diet because I notice that I feel better when limiting starchy foods. If I eat them on their own, I get the glycemic response. If I eat them with meat and other stuff...bloating.

    Here's the problem w/going primal though: reflux, or in my case, the silent reflux (LPR) that causes shortness of breath and various symptoms in the lungs w/no heartburn. One thing that HAS helped knock down silent reflux (and actually helped me kick PPIs over a year ago) is following the advice in a book called "Dropping Acid." It was written by a gastroenterologist and an ENT. The book recommends 2 weeks on a low-acid, low-reflux diet, the theory being that pepsin rides along with acid like crabs in the tide when you reflux, and then the pepsin grabs on to your chest area. The acid doesn't cause the problem, it activates the pepsin that causes the problem. So then when you eat fatty foods that cause reflux or acidic foods, acid is getting to where it activates this pepsin and voila... discomfort. So what is this diet? As you might guess, it's little fruit (bananas and melons), only low-fat meats like skinless chicken breast and fish, fat free dairy, egg whites, starches, and vegetables. Not much in the way of proteins. No nuts and seeds or pork or beef due to the tendency to stir up acid. No acidic stuff like berries and lots of other things that make things taste good. No bacon. No onions or tomatoes.

    After you go through this 2w period, you can introduce other things and I've been able to eat many of these things again as long as I don't get out of control, but here's the point... and maybe I'm approaching this incorrectly... You can't eat 2000+ calories worth of vegetables, low fat meat, and a a few servings of fruit every day. You are either going to have to get lots of your calories from fats/oils or you get them from carbs. My body doesn't like either extreme, so I've sort of had to compromise with... a "balanced" diet. It's all been a rather aggravating journey, as I am allergic to seafood and stuff like dairy and beans don't sit well. It can be hard to get enough calories. Normally my diet is a mix of higher and lower fat meats, lots of nuts and seeds, fruit, vegetables, and a serving or two of grains. I seem to do ok with this except when I get out of control (for example, have a bad day and eat a bunch of chocolate)... That stirs up the silent GERD, causes problems in my chest/lungs, then I have to go on this induction diet in the Low Acid cookbook to get things under control. Anyway, I've had to come to an uncomfortable compromise with carbs and fats.

    Curious for others' thoughts here who are dealing with silent GERD, and hopefully the Dropping Acid suggestion helps someone. I hate the diet, but it has helped me get things under control.
    Last edited by edgor; 09-25-2012, 10:18 PM.

  • #2
    Ah. Interesting. My husband has ended up in the ER thinking he was having a heart attack in the past, due to something like this. Turned out to be digestion/acid related. I'll have him check this out.

    All the best to you! It'd be hard to find something you liked..and then have to go back to something so bland.

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    • #3
      No personal experience,
      but did read some stuff recently in incidental research.

      One of the things was having an early dinner, maybe a little walk 1-2 hrs after dinner, these things may help empty the stomach out and minimise risk, also read some people sleep slightly inclined to minimise any upflow.

      Other than that, hope you get through this all well.
      "There are no short cuts to enlightenment, the journey is the destination, you have to walk this path alone"

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      • #4
        I got the same book. My LPR isn't terrible, but as a singer it was enough to do some damage at its worst. I'm kind of confused because there's this book advocating low fat and basically a very strict traditional diet and obviously has gotten some results. But then there's also people more on the Weston Price side of things who advocate the heaviest of foods like raw milk, kefir, liver/organ meats, coconut oils, etc (also bone broths), which is more in line with the paleo stance. Katheryne Pirtle has two books on this almost opposite stance that you might be interested in. And they claim to get really good results.

        I feel like there must be something right with each side. The Dropping Acid book is very good, but being a traditional doctor I feel like she's heavily biased by the decades old all fat is evil stance in medicine and that she kind of just cast out all fats in one swoop in her research. I wish she analyzed different types of fats and fatty foods because I bet some fats, like coconut, are probably healing while others are damaging, and I think the Dropping Acid author missed a big opportunity there.

        I tried the two week thing but after that I basically have been taking the low acid element of the Dropping Acid book (so no tomatoes, citrus, acidic canned foods and juices, etc) and combining it with the natural nutrient/fat dense foods and low carbs pushed by Pirtle. I feel my body works better with fat, and it makes no sense that I'd have to cut out my body's preferred fuel and expect my gut, which is closely tied to my body's health, to get better. That's one thing I like about Pirtle's book, the idea is basically give your body the absolute best foods to get it to heal itself rather than micromanage the pH of your stomach.

        That said, fatty meals sometimes give me a flareup. But other times they don't. I haven't figured out why, and it makes me think it's more about the combinations, timing, etc, rather than how many grams of fat you scarf down.
        Last edited by mxmxmxmxmxmx; 10-10-2012, 04:01 PM.

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        • #5
          mxmxmxmxmxm, yep I think your view on the combinations is correct. I am also a singer, used to do heaps of running, but got a BAD dose of sports induced asthma 4 years ago. This was caused, thinks my Doctor at the time, by acid. Anyway yaddy yaddy yaaa - long story short, later, I have had huge success with this eating regime. I eat meat, veges, fat, a few nuts and seeds, and very small amount of fruit. Oh and I have cream in my coffee. I went off omeprazole - i week in. My asthma (just started running again) is so much better, that I am only having one puff of ventolin (instead of two), and I can sing agin, well hold a steady note for a decent time. I haven't been able to do that for a while, and I believe that the food intake, asthma, reflux has all been related.
          I have had the odd twinge of reflux over the last 6 months, but never wrote down what I thought was the cause at the time - however it could be a slow road. There is obviously damage in there, and damage takes time to heal, so write down some observations now, and revisit every week or two. Just so you can note your progress.
          good luck
          "never let the truth get in the way of a good story "

          ...small steps....

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          • #6
            I have also had LPR Sx, mostly burning in the throat and occasionally in the mouth, some chest pain, for about 3.5 months now. I am a healthy 33 year old female, love to work out, love to eat right... so can't believe I have this problem. I attribute much of it to stress and am trying to work on that, but also I know that certain foods trigger my Sx. I have started on the primal/ paleo diet for the past 2 weeks. I am no longer on PPIs or H2 blockers, which seemed to almost make my Sx worse.

            I have been researching the SCD diet b/c it looks like some people have had success w/ it. I am just confused b/c it seems like there are 2 ways of approaching LPR/ GERD. Either you have high or low stomach acid. I just want to know what to do to make these Sx better, b/c they are driving me crazy! My husband thinks I am nuts b/c I am researching paleo and SCD all the time, trying to figure out what to do, recipes, etc. I think I will also follow mxmxmxmxmxm and NZ Primal Gwamma's thoughts... avoiding most acidic foods like coffee, chocolate and citric foods but still keeping in line w/ the primal/ paleo diet. I like it and what it represents, and hope that with time and patience my Sx will subside. Any other thoughts or folks out there with suggestions to help w/ LPR I would love to hear about!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by jrschwo View Post
              I have also had LPR Sx, mostly burning in the throat and occasionally in the mouth, some chest pain, for about 3.5 months now. I am a healthy 33 year old female, love to work out, love to eat right... so can't believe I have this problem. I attribute much of it to stress and am trying to work on that, but also I know that certain foods trigger my Sx. I have started on the primal/ paleo diet for the past 2 weeks. I am no longer on PPIs or H2 blockers, which seemed to almost make my Sx worse.

              I have been researching the SCD diet b/c it looks like some people have had success w/ it. I am just confused b/c it seems like there are 2 ways of approaching LPR/ GERD. Either you have high or low stomach acid. I just want to know what to do to make these Sx better, b/c they are driving me crazy! My husband thinks I am nuts b/c I am researching paleo and SCD all the time, trying to figure out what to do, recipes, etc. I think I will also follow mxmxmxmxmxm and NZ Primal Gwamma's thoughts... avoiding most acidic foods like coffee, chocolate and citric foods but still keeping in line w/ the primal/ paleo diet. I like it and what it represents, and hope that with time and patience my Sx will subside. Any other thoughts or folks out there with suggestions to help w/ LPR I would love to hear about!
              good on you - jrschwo. keep at it, and make sure you document - so you can go back and check what worked for you
              Good luck
              "never let the truth get in the way of a good story "

              ...small steps....

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              • #8
                Something eye-opening I read recently:

                What Everybody Ought To Know (But Doesn’t) About Heartburn & GERD

                What I understand from this is that while symptoms seem that there is too much acid, it's really not enough acid that is the underlying problem.

                I don't have time right now to read through and summarize the points right now, but it's really interesting and surprisingly easy to read through - I think there's 6 pages? Take a look and see what you think.
                28 years old, insurance broker
                starting weight 195 lbs (5'4")
                working on losing weight, getting active, and curing my GERD

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                • #9
                  I was just researching LPR and came upon this post. I too am Primal, but still have LPR issues. I feel they have gotten somewhat better by being Primal, however, some days it still feels awful, and I can't really figure out the cause. Has anyone else on this thread had success yet? I tried the Betaine HCL and it seemed to make my stomach burn worse. I also got the Dropping Acid book, but so much of it seemed to not align itself with the Primal Diet as edgor said. Any new suggestions are welcomed!

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                  • #10
                    Is this actually asthma (difficulty exhaling)? I know that reflux can cause or aggravate vocal chord dysfunction (VCD), which involves a difficulty inhaling...

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                    • #11
                      I had awful reflux a few years back. What I ended up doing was not eating after 6:00 pm.

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                      • #12
                        Has anyone tried taking bromelain? I have digestive issues and it helps. Once I hurt my stomach eating the wrong kind of food (tater tots) and couldn't eat much for a week. 1-2 bromelain capsules a day helped clear it up in a few days.

                        (Bromelain is an enzyme from pineapples. It's easily found at a vitamin store)

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                        • #13
                          This sounds just like what I've been having for the past few months, here's my story... I started experiencing chest pain a day after I went on a run in cold weather, it was also during the holidays so I was binging on unhealthy food every night. The pain started getting progressively worse over the next few weeks, exercise made it worse, I was eating mostly primal at the time too. I wasn't sure if I'd developed exercise induced asthma or acid reflux or something, one doctor told me it was costochondritis, another told me it was acid reflux, I'm not sure I believe either of them. Over the months the pain sort transferred from my chest to my throat, it feels like a breathing problem, like being unable to inhale fully while running, the docs tell me my lungs and heart are fine though. I've been keeping a pretty consistent food log to see if it is at all diet related, I haven't really made many conclusions though. It has kind of discouraged me from eating a high fat low carb primal diet, because that's what I was doing for the most part when this started. It's also discouraged me from exercising as much as I'd like to, because it always worsens. I've noticed on some days when I eat a ton of fruit and vegetables and low amounts of meat I feel pretty good throughout the day, and a coffee/omelette first thing in the morning tends to trigger some pain, maybe even caffeine in general. Other than those two conclusions I haven't really noticed anything, just slowly trying to get over this annoying condition.

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                          • #14
                            I've been trying to figure out what's wrong with me for a couple years now. Silent Reflux sounds the closest. I have a very hard time inhaling, every day, for most of the day. Only every now and then can I get a full breath. I have a few of the symptoms, with the trouble breathing and post nasal drip being the worst.
                            Thank you for posting this. I'm going to adjust my diet (no peppers or garlic!!! ) and see if it helps.

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                            • #15
                              Sure, I have had some success. After my diagnosis however I was so frustrated with the lack of answers that I wrote my ebook, "All About LPR: The Silent Reflux Story". This book chronicles the medical world's opinion on all aspects of LPR from diagnosis to surgery. Believe me, physicians and researchers are not in universal agreement about any of these aspects of this disease - and that certainly applies to diet. My book has a chapter on diet, and includes a discussion of Jamie Koufman's ideas as well as many others. Because research continues on LPR, I have a blog that updates this research at allaboutlpr.tumblr.com. Best of luck to you.

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