Nutritional Approaches to Inflammatory Bowel Disease


Inflammatory bowel disease is on the rise. It affects a considerable number of the population of developed countries. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the main forms of IBD. Common symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramps, fever, weight loss, and bleeding. These two diseases each have their own characteristics. In both cases, however, the epithelial mucosa of the stomach is destroyed, which leads to permeability of the intestinal barrier. This permeability usually favors the mal-absorption of nutrients and the abnormal passage of pro-inflammatory molecules (bacteria, food fragments) into the body system.

Healthy nutritional habits are one of the key ways to tackle IBD. People with inflammatory bowel diseases often ask questions about the impact of diet on their symptoms. Diet can either be an angel or a demon; studies have shown that excessive consumption of sugars, refined flours, processed products, red meat and animal fats, as well as a reduction in fiber consumption, are risk factors for Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

In contrast, a diet rich in soluble fiber (probiotics), fruits and vegetables is highly favorable to the intestinal tract.  A healthy diet is highly recommended in inflammatory bowel diseases. Yet when the disease is in the active and symptomatic phase, certain restrictive diets have shown positive effects on controlling intestinal inflammation.

Specific carbohydrate diets are effective in controlling intestinal inflammation. These carbohydrates include: cereals, starchy foods, complex sugars, and simple carbohydrates which require minimal digestion to reduce intestinal inflammation

Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to be a risk factor for IBD and its supplementation has shown a positive therapeutic effect. There are vitamin D receptors in many tissues, including immune cells. Immune cells help protect the barrier function of the intestine and improve the state of the micro biota.

Consumption of vegetables and fruits is very beneficial to people with IBD. They are rich in Polyphenols which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties that promote a healthier internal system and reduce intestinal permeability. Therefore, polyphenols have a place in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases.

Glutamine is another important nutritional compound that aids in the treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. It is a simple, non-essential amino acid that can become essential under certain conditions. This amino acid is a supplement widely used in bodybuilders, allowing for better recovery during intense effort and participating in the reconstruction of muscle tissue. Glutamine also has beneficial effects in the intestine and improves the barrier function of the intestine. For many nutritionists, glutamine is the flagship product that can rebuild damaged, inflamed, or ulcerated intestinal walls.

During the active relapse of the disease, a restrictive diet should be considered to calm inflammation and promote remission. Various diets and supplements mentioned above have shown positive effects on IBD patients and should therefore be considered.