Diet Choices Impact the Risk of Developing IBD


There was a direct association between consuming honey, ham, seafood, organ meats, salt, fruits on trees, fruit juice, olive, and nuts and the probability of developing IBD and ulcerative colitis.

Diet Choices Impact the Risk of Developing IBD

Farnaz Farsi, PhD

Dietary choices can be important in explaining the risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) for most people, but new research explains which foods might increase or decrease the risk.

A team, led by Farnaz Farsi, PhD, Minimally Invasive Surgery Research Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences, evaluated whether any relationship between nutrients and IBD exists.

There is more and more evidence that certain dietary components lead to the development and progression of IBD, which is rising both worldwide and in the US.

“IBD is a multifactorial disease, and the main pathogenesis factors consist of host genetic predisposition or background and environmental factors such as tobacco use, diet, antibiotic therapy, vitamin D deficiency, food freezing, socioeconomic status, stress, appendectomy, and westernized lifestyle, although the exact causes and pathogenesis of this disease are still not fully recognized,” the authors wrote. “Both dietary habits and ingredients of diet could also affect the variety of intestinal microbiota and host immunity, triggering intestinal inflammation or gut permeability.”

The Study in Iran

In the case-control study, the investigators examined 145 participants newly diagnosed with IBD between 2017-2019. They also matched these patients with 145 health control participants by body mass index (BMI), sex, and age.

Each participant completed a 168-item food frequency questionnaire and the investigators conducted anthropometric measurements and physical activity levels. The participants also gave information on age, past drug history, socioeconomic and education status, alcohol consumption, smoking history, and IBD subtypes through a general information questionnaire.

The final analysis included 112 patients with IBD and 122 healthy controls.

The Relationship Between Food and IBD

Overall, higher amounts of seafood consumed and cholesterol were related to an increased risk of IBD, specifically ulcerative colitis.

On the other hand, individuals with a higher intake of calcium were less likely to have Crohn’s disease compared to the healthy group.

The investigators also found a positive relation between honey and jam, seafood, organ meats, salt, fruits on trees, fruit juice, olives, and nuts and the probability of IBD. However, there was a negative association between refined grains, potatoes, salty snacks, legumes, dairy, and cruciferous and the probability of IBD.

Main Takeaways

“The main results displayed that the higher amount of protein intake derived from seafood and cholesterol was related to an increased risk of IBD and [ulcerative colitis] development, while patients who had a higher intake of calcium were less likely to have [Crohn’s disease] compared to healthy individuals,” the authors wrote.

With these results in mind, the investigators suggest a larger-sample case-control study with a comprehensive daily report food questionnaire could be beneficial in confirming some of the findings from this smaller study.

The study, “Evaluating macro- and micronutrients and food groups intake with the risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease: Is there any association?,” was published online in Food Science & Nutrition.

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