Diet affects reflux in a rural African community

Acta Gastroenterol Belg. 2017 Jul-Sep;80(3):357-360.


Reflux in this region of South Africa is known to be more frequent and less acidic than in other countries. We investigated the relationship between reflux and diet. We recruited 57 healthy participants. We carried out ambulant oesophageal pH-impedance monitoring for 24 hours. We used software and visual review to analyse data and to identify episodes of reflux and rapid alkaline rises in the stomach. A usual pattern diet questionnaire provided data on frequency of consumption of common foods. Associations between reflux, gastric pH and dietary components were sought using analysis of variance, and regression analyses. Diet was strongly based on maize. Protein was principally from milk, eggs, chicken and beans. Fat was principally from cooking oil. Fruit and vegetables were consumed moderately frequently. Milk consumption was associated with an increase in total reflux (P = .022), weakly acid reflux (P = 0.015) and supine reflux (P = 0.001), and a decrease in the time that gastric pH was higher than 4 (P = 0.030). Fat was associated with an increase in acid reflux (P = 0.046) and a decrease in time that gastric pH was higher than 4 (P = 0.005). Fruit consumption was associated with increases in liquid-only refluxes(P = 0.007), and upright refluxes (P = 0.048). Maize meal was associated with a reduction in rapid alkaline rises in the gastric lumen (P = 0.015). Diet significantly affects reflux in this community. What is normal in apparently healthy people in various parts of the world differs significantly.

Keywords: Africa; diet; impedance-pH; maize; milk; non-acid reflux>.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Esophageal pH Monitoring* / methods
  • Esophageal pH Monitoring* / statistics & numerical data
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Food Quality
  • Gastric Acidity Determination
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux* / diagnosis
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux* / epidemiology
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux* / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires