Mediterranean diet could be as good as pills at controlling THIS common problem

Acid reflux or indigestion can cause an unpleasant taste in the mouth, a sore throat, chronic cough and pain in the chest.

Patients who followed a Mediterranean diet and drank specially-filtered water to make it more alkaline reported a greater reduction in their symptoms than those on proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), a study has found.

PPIs neutralise acid in the stomach and are widely prescribed by GPs for people with different types of reflux.

They are also widely prescribed to treat heartburn, ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems.

The drugs - call called proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs - have previously been linked to a variety of health problems, including serious kidney damage, bone fractures and dementia.

They have also been linked to severe stomach upsets and increased risk of early death.

In the new study experts compared 85 patients treated with PPIs with 99 who followed a 90 per cent plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet.

They also drank alkaline water.

The diet consisted mostly of fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts and barely any dairy or meat including beef, chicken, fish, eggs and pork.

People were also told to avoid known triggers of reflux, including coffee, tea, chocolate, fizzy drinks, greasy and fried food, spicy food, fatty food and alcohol.

The team of experts from the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in New York and New York Medical College said the diet should help people with laryngopharyngeal reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Patients on the plant-based diet also lost weight and needed fewer medicines for other conditions, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Craig Zalvan, lead author of the study, said: "Although effective in some patients, I felt medication couldn't be the only method to treat reflux and recent studies reporting increased rates of stroke and heart attack, dementia and kidney damage from prolonged PPI use made me more certain.

"I did research and saw a lot of studies using plant-based diets to treat patients for many other chronic diseases, so I decided to develop a diet regimen to treat my laryngopharyngeal reflux patients.

"The results we found show we are heading in the right direction to treating reflux without medication."

The research was published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.