Diet High In Healthy Fats Found To Reduce Symptoms Of Crohns Disease

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Diet High In Healthy Fats Found To Reduce Symptoms Of Crohns Disease
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In a world where cardiovascular disease kills over 600,000 people in the United States each year, a diet high in fat is categorized under bad lifestyle choices (for others, a death wish). However, the right kind of fat in your diet can be good for you, especially if you suffer from Crohn’s disease.

Crohns Disease Facts

According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis affect approximately 1.6 million Americans, with most of them being diagnosed before they hit the age of 35. Crohn’s disease is a type of IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease. As the name suggests, Crohn’s disease is characterized by inflammation of the digestive tract which manifests as abdominal pain, diarrhea, malnutrition, fatigue, and weight loss. The condition may affect just one part of the gastrointestinal tract or several parts at once. Because Crohn’s can affect the various layers of tissues in the gastrointestinal tract, dangerous complications can occur if the problem is not managed correctly. [1][2]

Complications of Crohn’s disease include (1) the formation of fistulas, or ulcers on the intestinal wall where a tunnel is created that leads to another part of the intestine, skin, or a different organ, (2) strictures, or the narrowing of the intestine caused by scarring, (3) abscess, or the development of pus in the abdomen, pelvis, and/or anal area, (4) perforation, or the development of a hole due to weakening of the intestinal walls because of chronic inflammation, and (5) malabsorption and malnutrition. Risk factors for Crohn’s disease include age, ethnicity, family history, cigarette smoking, and use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or NSAIDs; however, the reason why people get diagnosed Crohn’s is still widely unknown. [1][2]

Crohns Disease And Diet

Conventional treatment of Crohn’s disease include use of anti-inflammatory medications, antibiotics, and diet modification. One of the most significant discoveries was published by Rodriguez-Palacios, et. al. in 2017, published in the American Gastroenterological Association Journal. The researchers conducted a trial with mice, giving them an anti-inflammatory high-fat diet over the course of several weeks. The diet included plant-derived “good fats” like coconut oil and cocoa butter which are highly bioavailable, meaning they are easily broken down and absorbed by the body. After the course of the treatment, the mice who were given a high fat diet exhibited 30 percent fewers kinds of gut bacteria compared to the control group. The less varied the kinds of gut bacteria, the less inflammation was seen in the gastrointestinal tract. Higher concentrations of fat led to even less gastrointestinal tract inflammation. [3]

Because of the results of the study, the researchers reported that further studies could be done on gut microbiota and how they affect the manifestations of Crohn’s disease, especially if good microbiota could be isolated for use in probiotics that could help manage the disease. Of course, Rodriguez-Palacios stated that their findings could not be applied to everyone. While one person may benefit from certain microbiota, another could not. Identifying which is which, is the next step researchers can take. But the study’s results do not lie; change to a high-fat diet (and eventually, changes in intestinal bacteria) could be very beneficial to people suffering from Crohn’s disease.

References:

[1] Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. The Facts About Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/assets/pdfs/updatedibdfactbook.pdf

[2] Mayo Clinic. Crohn’s disease. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/crohns-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353304

[3] Rodriguez-Palacios, A., et. al. (2017). Gut Microbiome Alterations Associated with an Anti-inflammatory High-Fat Diet Effect in Experimental crohn’s Disease: Potential for Discovery of Novel Biomarkers and Probiotics. https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(17)32060-7/pdf

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