New Dietary Study by CCFA

B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional
Thinkstock

_Those with Inflammatory Bowel Disease often wonder whether making certain changes to their diet can improve their condition. But the search for more holistic ways to treat IBD can be frustrating considering the lack of research into the role of diet and IBD. _

So, as a dietitian myself, I was thrilled to hear that the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America was granted $2.5 million by Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to study the connection between diet and a condition that affects more than 40 million people in the United States. The research will focus on the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) and the Mediterranean-style diet as both have shown some promise in smaller studies and seem to work in different ways.

Specific carbohydrate diehe specific carbohydrate diet emphasizeemoving the carbohydrates that are most likely to cause gas, pain, cramps, diarrhea or bloating. This includes things such as foods with high amounts of insoluble fiber such as grains or foods containing dairy.

In a 2014, a study by researchers at Seattle Children’s Hospital of seven patients with Crohn’s disease found each experienced improvement after 3 months on the diet. Another small study by Stanford University, published in the _Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition,_examined two pediatric patients. The study found that both experienced a reduction in symptoms and had improved lab work at the 3 and 6 month mark while on the SCD diet. Of course, a larger study is needed to further investigate the benefits of this diet for those who have IBD.

Mediterranean style diet

The Mediterranean Diet has frequently been reported to be beneficial for those with conditions such as heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, the diet is also associated with a reduced incidence of cancer, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

The key staples of this diet are plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, fish and seafood, along with an emphasis on healthy fats. Only small amounts of meat and sugar are allowed on this diet.

A 2013 study by Gareth Marlow et al. published in Human Genomics, showed that eating a Mediterranean diet may indeed have benefits for people with IBD. In the study, eight participants who spent 8 weeks on the diet showed less inflammation and saw an improvement in the balance of microbes in the gut. The Mediterranean Pyramid makes this diet plan simple to understand and is an excellent place to start if you want additional information.

What's next: The CCFA’s dietary study

The CCFA’s new study will randomly assign Crohn’s patients to one of the diets for a total period of twelve weeks. At the six week and twelve week mark, the patients will be examined to see whether there were any improvements of their disease. Specifically, the researchers will look at whether there was a reduction in the reported symptoms, mucosal inflammation as well as signs of clinical remission.

The hope is that the results can be used to help further define what nutritional changes may benefit patients with IBD and also to eventually establish more definitive guidelines for patients.** See More Helpful Articles:**

Six Ways to Prepare for an Ulcerative Colitis Flare

Doctor Q&A: How to Manage Ulcerative Colitis

Different Types of Colitis

Sleep and Diet Changes May Help IBD Patients


Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in dietetics as well as graduate work in public health and nutrition. She has worked with families dealing with digestive disease, asthma and food allergies for the past 12 years. Jennifer also serves the Board of Directors for Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER).