Diet & Lifestyle
February 12, 2024

Can Intermittent Fasting Help Control Acid Reflux?

Diet & Lifestyle

At-A-Glance

  • There are several Intermittent Fasting Programs for weight loss. Unfortunately, some like The Warrior Diet — one large meal every night is a recipe for severe acid reflux. 
  • Dr. Koufman’s Intermittent Fasting Program — eating for the first 7-8 hours of the day and having nothing for the last 7 hours until bed — is recommended for people with moderate-to-severe Respiratory Reflux.
  • Dr. Koufman’s Intermittent Fast ensures that you will go to bed with an empty and quiet stomach. And, for the greatest benefit, this should be linked to sleeping on a high incline and consuming an alkaline diet. And, for many of you, this should be part of a Reflux Detox Program

Note: Respiratory Reflux (RR) and Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) are synonyms and the terms can be used interchangeably. Going forward, I prefer the term RR and so should you; it is easier to pronounce, more intuitive, more comprehensive, and implies that RR can affect any and all parts of the respiratory system, which it does.

Until now, virtually all Intermittent Fasting Programs were for weight loss. Unfortunately, some like The Warrior Diet — one large meal every night is a recipe for severe acid reflux. Indeed all of the programs that recommend eating for just a portion of the day do not prohibit eating too late. 

Case Example: A 70-year-old woman had a laparoscopic fundoplication (anti-reflux surgery) by an excellent surgeon four years before consulting me for severe reflux that included postnasal, drip, chronic cough, difficulty swallowing, and shortness of breath. She ate dinner at 8 o’clock and went to bed at 10 o’clock. She refluxed all night, every night. In this case, I recommended that she never eat past five.

I am often asked, “What is the single most important variable in treating respiratory reflux?” And the answer is that the refluxer must go to bed with an empty and quiet stomach. And those are not the same thing. Empty means that there’s no food in the stomach; and quiet means that there’s no acid, pepsin, or other digestive enzymes in the stomach … that the stomach is inactive.

Why is this empty/quiet important? Because the predominant pattern of reflux today is Silent Nocturnal Respiratory Reflux. Neither you nor your doctor may recognise that SNoRR is the cause of your asthma, post-nasal drip, sinusitis, laryngitis, shortness of breath, etc. SNoRR can affect any and all parts of the respiratory system. SNoRR is “silent” reflux!

Dr. Koufman’s “Reverse” Intermittent Fasting Program

To achieve an empty/quiet stomach takes way longer than the traditional “three-hour rule” suggested by many physicians for people with reflux. That interval “recommendation” has been in place for fifty years; however, to get an empty/quiet stomach requires a 5-7 hour interval between the last meal (or snack) and bedtime, especially during the first phase of antireflux treatment. By the way, it could be called a “reverse” intermittent fasting program simply because it allows only early-day eating, but no late-evening eating.

Dr. Koufman’s Intermittent Fasting Program allows eating for the first 7-8 hours of the day, and then nothing for the last (at least) 7 hours before bedtime. If you wake up at 7:00 am and go to bed at 10:00 pm, then you can eat from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm, 8 hours … and then no eating for 7 hours, from 3:00 pm to 10:00 pm. If you wake at 7:00 am and go to bed earlier, say at 9:00 pm, then you can only eat for seven hours, i.e. 7:00 am to 2:00 pm, the fasting period being from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm. During this time, there should be that seven hour fasting period.

This type of intermittent fasting is recommended for people with moderate-to-severe Respiratory Reflux. This program ensures that you will go to bed with an empty and quiet stomach. And, for many of you, this should be part of a Reflux Detox Program. At the very least, Dr. Koufman’s Reverse Intermittent Fast should be coupled with sleeping on a high incline, no alcohol, and with an alkaline diet.  

Look at my Breakfast Post to get ideas on how to get high calories early in the day. Furthermore, if there is going to be a “larger meal,” it should be lunchtime. Remember, this program is for four weeks … but some people need to eat earlier for the rest of their lives. 

So, think about what time you get up in the morning and what time you go to bed or lie down into the bed, and make sure that at least seven hours are your intermittent fast, consuming food for the first seven or eight hours of the day.

If your stomach growls or you get hungry during the fasting period, you may drink Chamomile tea without sugar or honey … no calories that might turn on the stomach. 

The time goes fast … good luck! 

For more information about diagnosis and treatment of respiratory reflux, see my two companion books on Amazon: Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure and Dr. Koufman’s Acid Reflux Diet. And, if you would like to schedule a 30-minute, virtual consultation with me, you can Book Online.

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