Hannah began losing her voice and was subsequently diagnosed with LPR. By eliminating irritating foods and finding a diet that worked for her, she brought her voice back!
When I lost my voice, suddenly my livelihood was at risk.
As a fitness instructor and vocalist, I use my voice for everything that I do. So when I started to regularly lose my upper vocal register and sometimes my whole voice altogether, I became very concerned. I was also experiencing a post-nasal drip and the irritating feeling of having to clear my throat constantly. My mother had had the same experience, and was diagnosed with LPR. When I finally saw an ENT and had my vocal chords scoped, I wasn’t too surprised to learn that I shared a diagnosis with my mom. This type of reflux often goes undiagnosed because most people don’t have associated heartburn to go with it – the acid “silently” splashes up from the stomach into the back of the throat and scars your voice box (larynx). In my case, it was making me sound like Harvey Fierstein – not cute for a petite fitness instructor!
I said no to drugs:
The ENT immediately tried to prescribe acid blockers to prevent the symptoms. In the past, I had tried the acid-blockers as per my mother’s suggestion, and they didn’t help at all. Plus they gave me digestive problems. Also, as a health coach, I knew that the only real way to heal was through food and lifestyle changes.
My Low-Acid Diet:
The recommendation was an extremely low-acid diet, as well as not eating 4 hours before bed or directly before exercising. I eliminated vinegars, garlic, onion, any strong spicy foods, citrus, chocolate, tomatoes, any caffeine (even decaf), and alcohol. I would have eliminated meat and dairy as well, but they were not a part of the vegan diet I already followed.
I cut those foods out for six weeks, and it was really challenging. I love going out and having a glass of wine, and I used to be a huge coffee drinker. I also love spicy food, not to mention, garlic, onion, and citrus are in everything.
Finding foods that healed:
I had to find things that comforted me– foods that were delicious and nourishing. I started cooking with foods like miso because I was missing out on the flavor of garlic and onion. I love fruits, so I integrated apples, bananas, and berries regularly. Avocados, grain, and beans, continued to be my vegan staples. I drank decaf teas, and barley tea, to satisfy my coffee cravings. After following this program for about six weeks, my voice was back and I finally felt like myself again. Now that I’ve healed LPR and let it rest by following a strict diet, I have added some of those foods back in again. I just need to be mindful of them. I don’t really use garlic and onion because I still find them irritating, so instead I will use the powders because they’re less irritating.
Living with LPR: It’s up to you!
The journey has been difficult, and I still struggle with staying strict enough on the program to maintain ultimate vocal health. Resting, mindful breath, and slowing down have been important to keeping my symptoms at bay. I also sleep with a humidifier which helps a lot– hydration is key! Also, if I’m in a pinch, slippery elm cough drops or extract are really helpful for lubricating the chords and soothing my symptoms.
I think a lot of people have this condition and live with it, falsely assuming that there is nothing they can do, but I don’t think that is the answer. I think it’s very important to do whatever you can to heal yourself without the help of medications because it makes a difference in your confidence. You have the power. It’s totally doable and up to you. And hey, I am not perfect– sometimes I indulge in foods and practices that I know will impact my voice negatively. However, I now know I have the knowledge and tools that I need to make better choices on a daily basis, and I make decisions that allow me to stay healthy and still enjoy my life!
Check out some of my favorite healing recipes!
Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.