Antimicrobial foods?
April 23, 2015 9:35 PM   Subscribe

I have a tendency towards Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR). I've noticed that eating potatoes or bananas dramatically alleviates my LPR.

Other carbs makes it worse, probiotics briefly improve things and then make things worse over weeks, acidic or spicy foods (vinegar, capsaicin) have no effect in either direction, acid absorbing foods make things worse, and onion and garlic have no effect in either direction.

Googling "LPR potatoes OR bananas" (without the quotes) comes up with nothing.

(Please note that LPR is not GERD; it's a different phenomenon.)

When I eat potatoes and bananas the improvement is fast and dramatic, and I haven't noticed this effect for anything else (yet), but I eat a pretty limited diet.

My hypothesis is that I tend towards dysbiosis and that potatoes and bananas have unique antimicrobial properties(TM). (Googling does seem to support this. But googling for "antimicrobial foods" doesn't yield anything that I haven't tried, and bananas and potatoes don't come up when doing a general search like this, either.)

Have you found any magical foods for your LPR?

Can you guess at other foods that might have "active antimicrobial activity" that I could try?
posted by zeek321 to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
(btw, if anyone reads this in the future, I strongly recommend the bananas [and I know this makes me sound like a crackpot:] because eating potatoes gives me steadily increasing brain fog, respiratory depression, and muscles spasms [over 1-30 days] because of the anticholinergics in potatoes. bodies, man.)
posted by zeek321 at 9:42 PM on April 23, 2015

Hmm. I don't have an official LPR diagnosis, but women in my family on both sides have it, and I have experienced symptoms of it as well. Unfortunately, I can tell you that eating, say, a baked potato with olive oil will definitely make my symptoms flare, and the same often goes for a plain banana for breakfast. While I'm glad these foods work to reduce your symptoms, I'm not so sure there's anything inherent about them that helps combat LPR.
posted by limeonaire at 10:28 PM on April 23, 2015

(A second hypothesis is something something resistive starch: cold potatoes and slightly green bananas. I think a hot baked potato with olive oil would give me symptoms, too. Olive oil sometimes seems to make symptoms worse and sometimes doesn't.)
posted by zeek321 at 10:54 PM on April 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't know the first thing about LPR but I do known that coconut oil is widely said to be anti-bacterial (as well as anti-fungal). Maybe worth a try. It's a great frying oil.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:10 AM on April 24, 2015

Ditto of what Too-Ticky said: turmeric?
posted by leslievictoria at 1:29 AM on April 24, 2015

As a microbiologist, I struggle to imagine what sort of antimicrobial event is happening, especially if it is happening rapidly (ie, on the scale of minutes to hours). LPR is thought of as something that your body does - releasing acid into your your pharynx. Bacteria can have an effect on your body, but it would take time for the bacteria to be killed, cleared, and your body to react. Also, you are right in saying that potatoes and bananas aren't thought of as antimicrobial foods. In fact, the first Petri dishes were actually slices of potatoes! You could definitely shift the balance of microbes over time by preferentially feeding types that like potatoes.

My actual guess is that the potatoes and bananas are acting as a gel-like physical barrier blocking the release of gastroduodenal contents. There's been a couple studies in GERD and LPR that use alginate gel and have decent results, so that is something else you could look into. You can check out the alginate section of this paper for more links and discussion.
posted by fermezporte at 3:51 AM on April 24, 2015 [6 favorites]

Turmeric seemed to work for about 3.5 months and then the effect faded. Not sure what happened there.
posted by zeek321 at 5:30 AM on April 24, 2015

Where taking capsules of turmeric or just adding your own to food? Unfortunately supplements aren't well regulated, if you changed brands or the brand you were using changed their "recipe" that might explain why it stopped working. I had a similar problem with celery seed tablets I took for a different condition, I had to try a few brands until I found one that worked again after the first brand I tried added a bunch of filler.
posted by wwax at 5:45 AM on April 24, 2015

gel-like physical barrier

Hmm, but bacterial metabolism can react on the order of seconds, though, right (e.g. pumping out active agents and/or byproducts depending on the "mood" they're in or what food is passing by)? I'm skeptical of the barrier hypothesis because liquidy/foamy/substancy-burps turn into harmless-normal-feeling-gas-burps, indeed on the order of minutes. (But because of the gas burps it doesn't seem like there's barrier-ish action.) And then the gas burps themselves greatly subside. And my stomach seems to empty much faster. It seems like something is happening to the stomach milieu, and that valve and stomach contractions are influenced by the stomach milieu.

And, importantly, the effect lasts for about three meals before I need another "hit."

But I appreciate the weight of your microbiologist intuition; I'm going to think about this more, and I'm going to check out that link.
posted by zeek321 at 5:47 AM on April 24, 2015

Where taking capsules of turmeric or just adding your own to food?

(I was dumping it on my food; still am. I'm still on the first sprinkler jar, so I don't think anything changed, unless it somehow lost its potency.)
posted by zeek321 at 5:49 AM on April 24, 2015

This review article from 2014 (Asaoka et al.) recommends the following lifestyle modifications for LPR:
"Modification of daily lifestyle is critical to the management of reflux laryngitis. Patients with suspected LPR are advised to avoid stimuli that aggravate acid reflux, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, fatty foods, chocolate, acidic foods, spicy foods, and caffeine. A double-blind, randomized trial showed that lifestyle modification for a period of 2 months improved symptoms of LPR significantly, with or without the use of PPIs [38]. Koufman et al. [39] suggested that a strict low-acid diet may have beneficial effects on the symptoms and findings of recalcitrant LPR. Other lifestyle modifications are to raise the head of the bed during sleep and to avoid eating within 3 h of lying down."

I'm not a gastroenterologist and admit to knowing very little about LPR, but I briefly read the article and I saw no mention of bacteria being part of what is known about the pathophysiology of this disease. Do you have any information to support your Hypothesis (TM)? Bananas and potatoes would certainly qualify as low acid foods, though.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:10 AM on April 24, 2015

Could it be the pH levels? Bananas and potatoes have about the same exact pH, 4.5 to 5.5.
posted by rada at 6:12 AM on April 24, 2015

advised to avoid stimuli that aggravate acid reflux, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, fatty foods, chocolate, acidic foods, spicy foods, and caffeine.

(Hopefully I will disappear from this thread, now. I've researched and tried these lifestyle modifications, and they have no effect on my LPR.)
posted by zeek321 at 6:18 AM on April 24, 2015

I found that eating low histamine foods greatly helped.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:02 AM on April 24, 2015

Bananas and Potatoes are good sources of potassium. Potassium is important for regulation of the nervous system.

I get severe cramps in my calf muscles when my potassium level is down; eating a couple of bunches of bananas makes it stop.

It wouldn't surprise me if raising your blood potassium level helped your reflux for about the same reason.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:43 AM on April 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

bacterial metabolism can react on the order of seconds...

True, but react to do what? What is the mechanism that bacteria are using to prevent your LPR? There's a missing link here, and nothing that implicates microbes would be involved at all.

My physical barrier hypothesis is just that - I also like Chocolate Pickle's potassium hypothesis.

Also, while there can be bacteria in your stomach (hello H. pylori!) it's not the bustling microbial community like your intestines - in fact, scientists used to think the stomach was sterile (no microbes at all).
posted by fermezporte at 4:42 PM on April 24, 2015

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