Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 28, 2021
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IBD: can diet make a difference?

For years, we’ve told people that diet doesn’t play a role in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Most of the concrete information regarding diet and IBD is focused on preventing nutritional deficiencies and dehydration as well as managing symptoms of gas, bloating and diarrhea.(1) Now, new research suggests that diet may play a greater role than we thought in the development of the disease.

Fish and meat protein
A prospective study done in France that followed 67,000 women for 10 years found that the women who developed IBD also ate the most animal protein.(2) The women were consuming significantly more animal protein than is currently recommended. However, dairy and eggs were not related with a risk of the disease. The authors suggest that the digestion of animal protein may produce ammonia or hydrogen sulfide, which can be harmful. Digestion of protein has also been associated with a change in bacteria found in the colon, which may be associated with a change in gut health.

Another study tracked 200,000 people from Europe for five years.(3) It found that people who took aspirin regularly for more than one year were five times more likely to develop Crohn’s disease, but there was no link to the development of uncreative colitis. Unfortunately, the study did not record exactly how much aspirin was taken. While it hasn’t been recommended to discontinue the use of aspirin, closer follow up is suggested for patients with Crohn’s disease in their family history who are taking aspirin on a regular basis.

Vitamin D
Data from tests on mice suggest that vitamin D can have a direct impact on the development of IBD. It’s thought that it plays a role in the development and function of T cells. A lack of vitamin D would result in autoimmunity.(4)

Oleic acid
A recent study that followed 25,000 people from the UK found that people who consumed more oleic acid were less likely to develop ulcerative colitis.(5)

It has been documented that specific probiotics help prevent pouchitis and ulcerative colitis.(6) Unfortunately, it’s not clear if they can help in the treatment or reoccurrence of Crohn’s disease. Research will continue to focus on the complex relationship of diet, gut bacteria and the genetic susceptibility of patients.(7) Other research suggests that probiotics can be useful in treating of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).(8) Researchers are currently trying to determine which strains of probiotics and what dose would be most effective.

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Showing 1 comments

  1. On July 31, 2010, Dr R VanHoof said:
    Great succinct info. But what does your photo have to do with IBD. This is a "medical" journal. A young woman with exposed thighs =IBD?

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