- The special dietary regimen that emphasises natural, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, and nuts may provide relief for children suffering from Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
- Measurable improvements in symptoms were observed in eight out of ten patients within 12 weeks on this diet without the need for any other external interventions, according to a recent study.
- The diet disallowed the intake of grains, most dairy products, processed foods, and refined sugars, with honey being an exception.
- The change in the gut microbiome towards a non-inflammatory nature, due to the diet, is likely one of the reasons why this dietary therapy works, as per Dr. David Suskind.
- Both Dr. Suskind and Dr. James Lewis hope that similar improvements, as witnessed by the pediatric patients, might be possible for adult patients suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases.
A recent study suggests that kids suffering from Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis may find solace in a special diet, possibly enabling them to get relief without the need for medications. This dietary regimen emphasises the inclusion of natural, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts.
According to the study, measurable improvements in the symptoms of these inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) were seen among eight out of the ten patients within a 12-week period on the diet.
Impact and Prospective Benefits
“With no other external intervention, diet alone improved not only the clinical but also laboratory markers,” stated the study author, Dr. David Suskind, Professor of Pediatrics and Clinical Gastroenterology Director at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “Preliminary studies had hinted at the potential impact of diet, and it’s not surprising to see positive results,” he added.
Understanding Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Inflammatory bowel diseases affect approximately 1.6 million Americans, states data from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. Both Crohn’s and colitis are generally considered as autoimmune diseases. Common symptoms of these two conditions include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, rectal bleeding and/or constipation.
Regular treatment methodologies usually preferred for Crohn’s and colitis include steroids and other immunity-suppressing medications. Additionally, sometimes surgery might be required to remove the affected portions of the intestine. The ages of the 10 children in the study spanned from 10 to 17 years.
The Special Dietary Intake
The specific carbohydrate diet undertaken by the ten youthful patients is a unique one, disallowing the intake of grains, most dairy products, processed foods, as well as refined sugars, honey being an exception. Nutrition-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts are elements of the dietary plan.
Scientifically it is still unclear how such dietary alterations can prevent damage to the intestinal lining caused by IBDs, although several theories do exist. For one, it is widely accepted that diet plays a vital role in altering the gut microbiome — the complex network of bacteria assisting digestion in the digestive tract and forming the basis for the immune system.
“The change in the microbiome towards a non-inflammatory nature is likely a contributing factor in why dietary therapy works,” suggested Dr. Suskind. He explained further, “Another potential explanation is that the numerous additives we consume in our foods can detrimentally affect the intestinal lining. This dietary regime helps in the elimination of such harmful substances.”
The Diet Comparison
Dr. James Lewis, Chief Scientist for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America’s IBD Plexus Program, is leading a research project that compares the effectiveness of this ‘specific carbohydrate diet’ to the so-called Mediterranean diet, which primarily includes plant-based foods, in terms of inducing remission in Crohn’s patients. Despite its small sample size, Dr. Lewis praised Dr. Suskind’s study, acknowledging the fact that it adds significantly to the growing body of research suggesting potential therapeutic benefits from the specific carbohydrate diet for patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
“Some patients fail to experience complete intestinal healing or are left with persistently active diseases, despite the implementation of the most effective standard treatments. This scenario underscores the need for additional therapeutic approaches,” said Dr. Lewis, who is also a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Both Dr. Suskind and Dr. Lewis hope that the improvements witnessed by the pediatric patients might also be possible for adult patients suffering from IBDs.
The research was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.
For more details, you can visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website that gives information about inflammatory bowel disease.