December 26, 2023

Dr. Koufman’s Reflux Detox Diet

Diet & Lifestyle


  • The goal of Dr. Koufman’s Reflux Detox Diet is to jumpstart reflux control leading to cure. If you can get your reflux to stop completely for four weeks, that’s long enough for the esophagus and its valves to heal. That said, Dr. Koufman’s Detox Diet must be completed with other lifestyle changes and rules.
  • The detox diet is for people who have daily and/or severe reflux symptoms or people with chronic post-nasal drip, bronchitis, or cough, shortness of breath, recurrent pneumonia, snoring, sleep apnea, and asthma that doesn’t get better with treatment.
  • The main thrust of the detox diet is a low-fat, low-acid diet, also avoiding known reflux trigger foods and alcohol … and ideally to consume nothing below pH 5.0 during the detox.

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, and it implies that RR can affect any and all parts of the respiratory system, which it

Fad weight-loss diets, e.g., South Beach, Paleo, Juice cleanse, Keto, etc., have no real health benefits and some make acid reflux worse. That said, there is a link between overweight/obesity and acid reflux; this is well established. When an overweight person lies down, the mass of the belly, the panniculus, puts as many as 50-or-more pounds of pressure on the stomach. 

Not a fad, but a scientifically validated program, Dr. Koufman’s Reflux Detox Diet, should be the starting point for anyone with reflux with or without obesity as a cofactor.  In other words, this diet can lead to healing (no reflux, yay) or at least major improvement.

This detox diet is Ground Zero for refluxers who have daily symptoms and especially people with chronic post-nasal drip, bronchitis, or cough, shortness of breath, recurrent pneumonia, snoring, sleep apnea, and asthma that doesn’t get better with treatment. Yes, all may be reflux-caused and reversible, or “cured.”

People have been asking for a post on this diet, so here it is. Meanwhile, below the list are the-very-important rules

Dr. Koufman’s Detox DietThis Is What You CAN Eat


Artificial sweetener 




Banana (great snack food)

Beans (black, red, lima, lentils, etc.)

Bread (especially whole grain and rye)

Caramel (max. 4 tablespoons per week)


Celery (great snack food)

Chamomile and/or ginger teas (other herbal teas are not acceptable)

Chicken (grilled/broiled/baked/steamed; no skin)

Chicken stock/bouillon

Coffee (max. one cup per day; best with milk)

Egg whites


Fish (including shellfish, grilled, broiled, baked, steamed)

Ginger (ginger root, powdered or preserved)

Graham crackers

Herbs (excluding all peppers, citrus, garlic, and mustard)

Honey (Manuka honey best for reflux)

Low-fat milk (almond, cow, soy)

Low-fat muffins (preferably non-fruit and not chocolate)

Melon (honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon)

Mushrooms (raw or cooked)

Oatmeal (all whole-grain cereals)

Olive oil (unlimited amount)




Popcorn (plain or salted, no butter)

Potatoes (all of the root vegetables except onions)

Rice (healthy, especially brown rice, is a staple during induction)

Soups (homemade with noodles and low acid veggies)


Turkey breast (no skin)

Vegetables (raw or cooked … but no onions, tomatoes, garlic, or peppers)

Vinaigrette (max. 3 teaspoons per week; this is the only acid allowed during detox)

Whole-grain breads, crackers, and breakfast cereals

I call the reflux detox diet a “chegan” (cheating-vegan) diet, e.g., poultry, fish … you can be a chegan, too. 

Detox Rules

1. If you want to lose weight, that’s fine! But, for the thin refluxer who does not want to lose weight, assume that you need about 1,800 calories a day. Here is an online daily calorie calculator.

2. You should finish eating for the day for five hours before lying down to bed and no lying down on the sofa … 45° upright is the minimum. Especially important: No snacking. 

3. You are hungry or your stomach is growling, you can have water or chamomile tea (no sugar or honey in the tea, but artificial sweeteners are okay.) 

4. Your evening meal should not be the major refueling meal of the day. Your biggest meal should be at lunchtime and your smallest meal, dinner.

5. No lying down or exercising on a full stomach. In particular, exercise should be done before eating and not the other way around 

6. Maintain good hydration! For water, I recommend alkaline water, pH 9.5 or higher. Personally, I recommend buying a pitcher; that’s what I use.

7. You should be sleeping on a high incline, i.e., 45° upright. If you don’t have a bed that goes up and down, you can use a recliner, and if you don’t have a recliner, you can use reflux wedges and/or pillows. (Here’s the best wedge I could find for the money.)

Reminder? What You Cannot Eat on Detox

All alcoholic beverages

All soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices, seltzer; nothing bottled except still water

All Citrus (e.g. orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, etc.)

All Onions (e.g., including scallions, shallots, chives, leeks, etc.)

Apple cider vinegar

Pepper (seasoning)

Bell peppers

Fried food (sautéed in oil is okay) 





And, no beverages from a bottle or can (except still water)

After Detox, Then What?

So you feel much better, some or all symptoms gone, but you don’t know what to do next. Congratulations you are now in transition. Unfortunately, under no circumstances should you go back to how you were eating before.

I recommend that you leave the program intact as you change one variable at a time/ For example if sleeping at a 45O angle and you want to lower and use a regular reflux pillow or wedge, the wise thing to do is change one thing at a time. Remember, the lifestyle rules still apply as presented above until they are “tested” Dr. Koufman’s Acid Reflux Diet covers transition and maintenance. 

Next week, I will present a less intense weight loss program for people with no reflux or who only have mild and/or occasional reflux; that diet still requires discipline … but it’s simple and it works.

For more information about diagnosis and treatment of reflux laryngitis, see my two companion books on Amazon: Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure

And, if you would like to schedule a 30-minute, virtual consultation with me, you can book online.

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