Fiber Could Cause Inflammation in IBD Patients



Not all fiber is beneficial, especially if you have a chronic GI condition like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. A new study found a stool test can help doctors create specific nutrition plans for patients with Crohn’s and colitis to reduce inflammation in the intestines.

What Is Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis?

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are collectively known as IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease. These conditions cause chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and affect 3.1 million Americans.

Many people do not fully understand Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week is Dec. 1-7. Created in 2011, this initiative seeks to educate Americans and raise awareness of IBD in hopes of eventually eliminating these diseases.

The first step in awareness is knowing the warning signs of IBD. Chronic symptoms include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

IBD can also impact the bones, eyes, skin, kidneys, liver and joints.

Diet and Its Impact on Crohn’s and Colitis

According to new research in the journal Gastroenterology, people who have IBD may soon be able to receive personalized nutrition guidelines. Some types of dietary fiber can cause inflammation and exacerbate IBD symptoms. The research team discovered certain kinds of fibers found in specific foods are difficult to ferment if certain microbes are malfunctioning or absent, as can be the case for Crohn’s and colitis patients.

Some examples are as follows:

  • Artichokes
  • Chicory roots
  • Garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas

“We know there are health benefits to consuming dietary fiber and they promote good gut health in healthy individuals, but IBD patients quite frequently complain about a sensitivity when they consume certain dietary fibers,” said Heather Armstrong, PhD, who began the study as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Alberta and is now an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Manitoba and Canada Research Chair in Integrative Bioscience. “We really wanted to understand the mechanisms behind this” (Medical Xpress).

Dr. Armstrong said that between 20 and 40 percent of IBD patients have sensitivity to certain foods, but other patients derive benefit from the dietary fibers. The research team developed a stool test to advise patients on how to make changes to their diets to prevent IBD flares. In some instances, patients can introduce foods back into their diets after avoiding them for a period of time.

Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Colon Cancer Risk

If you have IBD, you are at an increased risk for developing colon cancer. Chronic inflammation of the colon can cause rapid turnover of cells in the lining of the large intestine, and this increases the chance of cancerous cells developing. Therefore, patients with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis should be particularly diligent about colon cancer screenings.

Colon cancer is highly treatable when it’s found early, and most cases are preventable with a routine colonoscopy. If you are looking for a board-certified gastroenterologist in your area, we can help. Our GI centers are located nationwide and are accepting new patients. Call today to make an appointment.