Desperate parents take desperate measures if their children are suffering. My daughter who had gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) for years was truly suffering, mostly as a result of the medical treatment she had been receiving—namely the PPIs (proton pump inhibitors Prilosec and Prevacid). She had not been sleeping, she could barely focus in school, was experiencing daily headaches, caught every virus that went through school, had a poor appetite and then developed diarrhea. After discontinuing the PPI, she became a new person—full of life, color in her cheeks, cheerful mood and had a healthy appetite once again. I decided to never, ever give anyone in my family that class of medication again!
But what about the reflux? I became a dietary tiger mom and took away her precious pasta, bread and sugar. Within four days, her gastrointestinal symptoms were gone—no more bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort, and no reflux. Her energy was also improved. I kept track of all that she ate in a diet journal, tracking her emotions, energy, GI symptoms and clearly noticed that when she ate pasta, bread or sugar her reflux symptoms returned. She has maintained the reflux free diet quite well and has only complained a few times when birthday cake or another special occasion arises. She knows very well at the age of 9 that if she were to eat these foods, she will suffer the consequences. Of course, I changed the way our entire household ate—pretty much eliminating pasta and bread (and both mom and dad have lost a few pounds as a result of that change alone!). Large piles of fruit and vegetables have taken over our kitchen and smoothies have become a regular treat for all of the kids.
As a result of my attempts to adopt a mostly vegetarian diet in our family (for health and environmental reasons), I had accidentally shifted my daughter’s diet to include primarily pasta and whole grains. In order to set things right, I acted in defiance of the USDA’s food pyramid schema—and prioritized fruit, vegetables, fish, meat and some dairy while minimizing grains. This worked like a charm for her and she continues to feel healthy and happy, reporting no reflux at all! I’m not certain why this approach worked, but based on what I’ve read in recent scholarly medical articles on the subject, I believe that she had a perfect storm: excess refined carbohydrates (daily pasta, bread, sugar) and acid suppression. This may have resulted in overgrowth of unfavorable bacteria in her gut and malabsorption, and possibly vitamin/mineral deficiency exacerbating matters. Luckily, these all seemed to resolve with elimination of certain carbohydrates (specifically breads, pasta, crackers) and probiotics to repopulate her gut with favorable microflora.
Of note, my daughter did have negative tests for gluten sensitivity (Endomysial IgA, Transglutaminase IgA)–but she may have Celiac Disease or non- Celiac gluten sensitivity…we’ll see.
To read more, look for GERD evidence for the solution and a future entry on PROBIOTICS.