3 Ways Nutrition Helps IBD
A quick disclaimer:
Vitamin supplementation should only occur to correct lab patterns of deficiencies/insufficiencies and be dosed by your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist according to your individualized needs. Supplementing too much could cause negative health effects. This article is not meant to replace the advice of your licensed healthcare professional or be prescriptive.
1. Nutrition can help certain medications work better
A study published in 2021 showed that Vitamin D supplementation could improve the effectiveness of Remicade (infliximab) in patients with moderate-to-severe Crohn’s disease. In 73 patients receiving Remicade who were also supplementing with vitamin D, this study found that the clinical remission rate at 54 weeks of supplementation was higher compared to the patients who were not supplementing with vitamin D. Vitamin D supplementation, especially in patients who were identified as deficient, increased cells with anti-inflammatory properties (IL-10). The bottom line is that Vitamin D3 supplementation, especially in patients who are deficient, could improve the effectiveness of Remicade in people with moderate-to-severe Crohn’s disease and possibly induce clinical remission (1).
2. Nutrition can help reduce inflammation
In the general population, research is clear that consuming more polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids (found in foods like salmon, anchovies, canola oil, cod liver oil, walnuts, and flaxseeds) can decrease inflammatory markers (2). Specific to IBD, no diet reigns superior for controlling inflammation. However, there is research that suggests that improvement of a patient’s nutritional status and alteration of gut flora by foods is thought to lead to decreased mucosal inflammation (3). Omega-9, found in foods like olive oil, almond oil, and avocado oil, has been shown in mice studies to potentially play a role in prevention for ulcerative colitis (4). For more details on the research supporting the role of nutrition in reducing inflammation, check out this post which summarizes the 2020 diet guidelines set out by the International Organization for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IOIBD).
3. Nutrition can help prevent and manage malnutrition
A study in 2014 found that hospitalized patients with IBD had the highest incidence of malnutrition (5). People who have active disease might have difficulty eating enough food due to decreased appetite, fatigue from GI symptoms, or malabsorption. Additionally, the inflammatory process usually requires that more calories be consumed. Eating enough can ensure that complications associated with malnutrition can be prevented (6). Working one-on-one with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in IBD is a safe and effective way to be sure that you are eating enough calories and protein to support your body’s needs. If you don't have a dietitian or are curious to learn how working with one could help you achieve your health goals, I welcome you to apply here for a complimentary consultation.
- Xia, S. L., Min, Q. J., Shao, X. X., Lin, D. P., Ma, G. L., Wu, H., Cao, S. G., & Jiang, Y. (2021). Influence of Vitamin D3 Supplementation on Infliximab Effectiveness in Chinese Patients With Crohn's Disease: A Retrospective Cohort Study. Frontiers in nutrition, 8, 739285. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2021.739285
- Ferrucci L, Cherubini A, Bandinelli S, Bartali B, Corsi A, Lauretani F, Martin A, Andres-Lacueva C, Senin U, Guralnik JM. Relationship of plasma polyunsaturated fatty acids to circulating inflammatory markers. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Feb; 91(2):439-46.
- Hardy H, Harris J, Lyon E, Beal J, Foey AD. Probiotics, prebiotics and immunomodulation of gut mucosal defences: homeostasis and immunopathology. Nutrients. 2013 May 29; 5(6):1869-912.
- Fernández, J., de la Fuente, V.G., García, M.T.F. et al. A diet based on cured acorn-fed ham with oleic acid content promotes anti-inflammatory gut microbiota and prevents ulcerative colitis in an animal model.Lipids Health Dis19, 28 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12944-020-01205-x
- Matarese et al. “The Healthcare Professional’s Guide to Gastrointestinal Nutrition” (2014)
- Alastair, F. , Emma, G., & Emma, P. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. 2011; 35(5), 571-580.
More IBD Resources:
The Flare Fighter Recipe Book
We've put together this 40+ page recipe book to give you some ideas for what to eat when you have IBD. These recipes are designed to be quick, simple, and delicious. We hope you enjoy them! Download the recipe book at the link below.
The IBD Starter Kit
An essential self-advocacy guide for people with IBD and their caregivers. We designed this Starter Kit with you in mind, to save you time and give you the tools you need to be your own best healthcare advocate. Download the Starter Kit at the link below.