If you have acid reflux you might be wondering if fasting can help you feel better and if so what form of fasting works the best.
There is some evidence that fasting can help acid reflux at least somewhat. But for some people with acid reflux, they mention that fasting and skipping meals only makes their symptoms worse.
Below we will go into this in more detail and if you really should try fasting to help your acid reflux.
Is Fasting Good For Acid Reflux?
Fasting can help certain people with acid reflux or GERD though for others they may have more problems when they start fasting.
Generally speaking, though fasting should be a good thing for your stomach and your whole digestive system. The reason for that is because when you fast it allows time for your stomach and gut to rest and reset. This time allows for any acid reflux damage to calm down and heal and for your gut to start to rebalance its bacteria. This often can play an important role in acid reflux.
There are different forms of fasting that can be done. You have the most serious form of fasting that is simply water fasting for a certain period of time. That’s when you only drink water and don’t consume any calories often for days at a time. Of course, you can do this but it’s often better to start with something else called intermittent fasting.
How intermittent fasting works is usually you allow a certain amount of time for eating each day. For instance. 16 hours fasting and 8 hours eating. That means you don’t eat for 16 hours in a row and then for 8 hours you can eat. When you do this you allow the digestive system time to rest and relax which allows for healing and rebalancing.
This often helps lower acid reflux symptoms and allows for better healing in the digestive tract. As an example, the 16 hour fast usually would last from dinner the night before at 6pm until 10am the next morning. Usually, this split is a great place to start because it doesn’t need too much adjustment for most people. During the 8 hours when you can eat it’s usually good to eat 2-3 times depending on your preference. Lets say you are used to eat 4 meals per day. In that case you could choose to lower that to 3 meals per day and eat within that timing window. This will allow your stomach and digestive system more time to heal which often will help alleviate acid reflux symptoms at least slightly.
For example, this study investigated people with GERD. People doing the fasting here did 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating as I mentioned before. GERD symptoms where measured before and after doing this intermittent fasting technique for 2 days. There was a good improvement in heartburn and regurgitation scores during this period and acid exposure time was reduced during this time as well. All of these are good improvements for just 2 days’ time.
Also, quite a lot of the participants didn’t even adhere properly to the fasting itself. This is very encouraging because it shows that solid improvements can be seen even after 2 days of this process where many of the participants didn’t even follow the regime completely. Therefore, if someone was to follow this intermittent fasting more closely for a longer period of time they could in theory see even greater improvements.
There was another study that showed that when fasting different hormones are released including the hunger hormone called ghrelin. Acid reflux often worsens when you have a slower emptying stomach. That being said ghrelin will help improve the gastrointestinal motility which will also help speed up stomach emptying and improve the effects of acid reflux.
Of course fasting over a period of time will speed up and improve weight loss. Excess weight particularly around the stomach increases the chances of acid reflux and GERD. Therefore if you are overweight intermittent fasting will also help with this. This theory was confirmed by this study.
In conclusion we recommend starting slow with intermittent fasting if you have acid reflux. This is a great way to ease into fasting that may offer you benefits to your acid reflux symptoms.
Start with a 16 hour fast followed by 8 hours of eating. Often 2-3 meals work best in this period. This way you can ease into fasting and see the benefits without much challenge. Also if you ease into fasting like this it lowers the chance of you experiencing worsened acid reflux symptoms. If you do notice worsened acid reflux, you might want to change the fasting schedule and make it shorter until your body and digestive system adjusts. For instance, making the fasting a 14 hour fast instead of 16 and eating 3 meals and 1 snack during your eating time to make that transition easier. Of course, this will depend on you and your own eating schedule and acid reflux issues.
Important Related Questions
Does Fasting Make Acid Reflux Worse?
In some cases, acid reflux can be worse when fasting. This can be for a plethora of reasons. For example, the valve above the stomach might not be closing properly. This often leads to acid reflux. If you don’t eat and the valve above the stomach is open and relaxed when it shouldn’t be this often leads to the stomach acid spilling up and into the esophagus. This can be worse for certain people when they eat because there is no food going into the stomach which often helps lower and neutralize excess acidity. While this isn’t too common it does happen for more severe cases of acid reflux like GERD or LPR.
How Do I Stop Acid Reflux When Fasting?
You can take some simple medication like Tums or Gaviscon. Or you can make a mixture like baking soda and water which is a great easy quick home remedy, learn how to here. Of course, these may ‘break’ the fast slightly, but it isn’t so important because it will help your acid reflux and the calorie intake will be minimal and not worth worrying about.
Does Skipping Meals Help Acid Reflux?
Sometimes skipping meals may help acid reflux though it is not a guaranteed solution to help acid reflux. Usually eating something that is more plain is often a better solution to help acid reflux than not eating at all. Check this article, for foods to ease acid reflux symptoms. For more information check our article – Why Do I Get Heartburn When I Haven’t Eaten?
Can an Empty Stomach Cause Acid Reflux?
In some cases, an empty stomach may worsen acid reflux though that is not always the case.