Health and Wellness: Inflammatory Bowel Disease

In the preceding blogs, we have primarily focused on the ill effects of the Standard American Diet(SAD), rich in animal foods and processed foods, on chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc. This month, we will focus on the growing body of evidence which clearly demonstrates the increased risk for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis with intake of animal foods and processed foods. On today’s blog we’ll focus our attention on Inflammatory bowel disease.


A review article in the American Journal of Gastroenterology from 2011 reviewed 19 independent studies, and came to the conclusion that processed foods and animal foods increases risk for developing inflammatory bowel disease(both Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis). Whereas increasing intake of fiber, fruits and vegetables reduces the risk for developing inflammatory bowel disease.


The exact mechanism responsible for development of Inflammatory bowel disease has not been established. However, most scholars agree that in addition to genetic predisposition, environmental factors such as diet and interaction of gut bacteria with our immune system are key factors in the development of this disease.


Multiple studies have shown that the variety of bacteria in our gut varies with our diet. There appears to be a continuum on what kinds of bacteria inhabit our intestines from the typical western diet to a vegetarian diet to a vegan diet. Plant based diets promote beneficial gut bacteria whereas diets rich in animal foods and processed foods promote gut bacteria which promote dysregulation of our immune system which can trigger diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease.

This link between plant based diets and beneficial gut bacteria has led to new research using Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT). FMT involves taking stool from healthy subjects who have large diversity of beneficial gut bacteria and transplanting it into the colon of patients who have Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Though these studies seem promising, we think it would be far easier and more effective in the long term to instead eat a diet that naturally promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. As the study below indicates, beneficial gut bacteria can rapidly proliferate on a healthy diet, one consisting of whole grains and variety of fruits and vegetables.

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