Oriana Damas, MD: Intervals of a Low-Calorie, Plant-Based Diet Show Promise for UC


Damas explains key findings from her pilot study exploring intervals of a low-calorie plant-based diet as adjunctive therapy to medication in patients with ulcerative colitis.

Diet is a well-explored facet of Crohn’s disease, but research about diet’s role in ulcerative colitis is few and far between, especially as it pertains to leveraging food to help reduce inflammation.

Research presented by Oriana Damas, MD, assistant professor of gastroenterology and associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2024 in Washington, DC, this weekend explored the impact of a pair of 5-day intervals of a low-calorie plant-based diet on clinical response to medication in patients with active UC.

“Ulcerative colitis disease inflammation can have a response to diet therapy, even if the ulcerative colitis is very active,” Damas explained to HCPLive. “That's very important because I think many, many IBD doctors and providers in general perhaps don't think that diet plays a role in UC, and we’re showing through studies like this one that that is not true. But also second, we're seeing that when you have very active disease, there's still a possibility for diet to have a role.”

Participants were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to arm 1 with 2 intervals of the plant-based diet and standard medical therapy for 8 weeks (n = 10) or arm 2 with a low residue control diet and standard medical therapy for 8 weeks (n = 14). The primary outcome was decrease in simple clinical colitis activity index (SCCAI) at week 8.

Results showed 50% of those in the plant-based diet group had a clinical response, defined as a decrease in SCCAI by ≥ 3, by week 8 compared to 30.7% in the placebo arm (P <.05). The mean decrease in SCCAI for the plant-based diet was 4.4 (SD, 3.32) compared to 1.61 (SD, 2.43) for the control arm (P = .037). Investigators noted that when examining differences in response among patients treated only with JAK inhibitors, a similar trend in SCCAI between the PB diet and control arm was observed (P = .06).

“It was a small pilot study, so I do think that the results are extremely promising, but we need more long-term data on this diet,” Damas concluded.


Brooks, A. Exploring Diet’s Role in Managing Ulcerative Colitis, with Oriana Damas, MD. HCPLive. May 19, 2024. Accessed May 20, 2024. https://www.hcplive.com/view/exploring-diet-s-role-in-managing-ulcerative-colitis-with-oriana-damas-md

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