Can A Keto Diet Help Reduce Your Risk Of GERD?

The keto diet plan is low in carbs, high in fat, and includes foods like fatty fish and meats, dairy, healthy oils, and nuts, along with low-carb fruits and veggies (via Healthline). A keto diet may help balance blood sugar and insulin levels, boost fat burning and weight loss, and regulate blood pressure. Studies have shown keto may benefit many health conditions by reducing the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer's disease, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, and more — but can a keto diet help reduce your risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?

According to the Mayo Clinic, GERD occurs when acid reflux becomes chronic, occurring two or more times every week. As acid repeatedly washes from the stomach back up into the esophagus, the lining of the esophagus can become irritated, leading to mild to severe discomfort. It also comes with symptoms including difficulty swallowing, heartburn, coughing, and laryngitis. Many people can manage GERD with simple lifestyle changes. Functional Medicine expert Chris Kresser recommends choosing foods that can help alleviate symptoms of GERD and avoiding others that may exacerbate them — are keto foods good or bad for GERD?

Keto can reduce risk factors that contribute to GERD

With any acid reflux, including GERD, what you eat seems to be less important than what you don't eat (per WebMD). Managing GERD symptoms may be as simple as avoiding certain foods that increase stomach acid levels and trigger inflammation. The Keto diet allows for plenty of low-carb fruits and veggies, which is ideal for managing GERD. Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends managing GERD by eating watery foods like celery, cucumber, and lettuce, along with alkaline foods, such as cauliflower, nuts, and melons, all of which are allowed in a ketogenic diet. Keto foods that are considered aggravating to GERD include salty, high-fat foods like bacon, sausage, and cheese.

Dr. Elias Dorido of the Houston Heartburn & Reflux Center notes that small studies confirm a reduction in GERD symptoms when obese patients followed a keto diet. Combined evidence suggests a low-carb, high-fat diet may effectively reduce symptoms in obese and insulin-resistant people.

For individuals within the average body weight range, making simple food swaps, like leaving out the bacon in favor of chicken or salmon, could make keto a good choice (per Johns Hopkins Medicine), but can a keto diet help reduce your risk of GERD? The jury is still out, but the keto diet is known to help with weight loss and balancing blood sugar and insulin. A 2013 study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology suggests it can prevent obesity, eliminating a significant risk factor for GERD.