Scientists have warned that adding more fiber to the diet may be harmful for patients with inflammatory bowel disease

Scientists have warned that adding more fiber to the diet may be harmful for patients with inflammatory bowel disease

Edmonton, Alberta – You’ve probably heard about it countless times – eat more fiber, it’s good for you! However, surprising new findings suggest that fiber can cause problems for IBD patients. Scientists from the University of Alberta report that certain types of dietary fiber cause an inflammatory response in some IBD patients, exacerbating existing symptoms.

The good news, the researchers explain, is that these findings open the door to personalized dietary guidelines that can keep IBD patients feeling well. The research team is already working on a stool test to assess the microbes present in patients’ guts. This will facilitate predictions of negative fiber responses and provide personalized dietary recommendations and treatments for individual patients.

Approximately 0.7 percent of the Canadian population (one in 150 people) has IBD, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Estimates predict that the number will rise to one percent by 2030. Worryingly, the fastest growing group is children.

Symptoms of IBD usually include abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloody stools, and weight loss, but delayed puberty and a long-term risk of colorectal cancer are also related to IBD. While the exact cause of IBD is still unknown, scientists believe risk factors include genetics, diet, environmental factors, and changes among the gut microbiome.

Heather Armstrong, now an assistant professor of internal medicine in the University of Manitoba and Canada Research Chair in Integrative Biological Sciences, says in a University release. “We really wanted to understand the mechanisms behind that.”

“By creating this stool test, we hope we can tell you how to modify your diet to prevent flares or further deterioration,” adds Eitan Wayne, MD, a professor at the Alberta College of Medicine and Dentistry. “It’s a dynamic situation, so it’s possible that you’re avoiding a certain food now, in a few months you’ll be fine to eat that again.”

Not all fibers are born equal

Unlike most foods consumed by humans, fiber is not digested in the small intestine. Instead, bacteria and microorganisms (microbes) within the large intestine or colon produce enzymes that ferment fiber. In chemical terms, fiber is a short chain of sugars such as pectinfound in citrus fruits, or a very long and branched brown that is difficult to ferment.

The research team found out β-fructan . fibers Those found in foods including artichokes, dandelion roots, garlic, bananas, and asparagus are particularly difficult to ferment if certain microbes are either missing or inactivated, as is often the case among IBD patients.

“We are learning that not all fibers are created equal,” Professor Wayne comments. “We’ve shown that some fibers have the potential to cause harm, so we have to be more selective when we expose our patients to them.”

For most people, eating more fiber is a great food choice; It has a beneficial anti-inflammatory effect and helps digestion. However, this research indicates that a certain number of unfermented fiber increases inflammation and worsens symptoms in some IBD patients.

Professor Armstrong explains: “We want to begin to uncover why 20-40 percent of patients have allergies, while in the other part of patients, this dietary fiber can actually benefit health, protect against disease and have very positive effects.”

The researchers conducted this study using biopsies from more than 100 pediatric patients at the University of Alberta Hospital.

The study authors explain that any new dietary guidelines developed from these findings will not replace drug treatments. Despite this, these dietary recommendations should complement traditional IBD treatments, best helping patients avoid flares and return to remission as quickly as possible after exposure to inflammation.

Professor Armstrong concludes, “I personally have IBD, so I often come up with research questions that I want to answer in person.” “If we can find a way to reduce diet-related inflammation, we may be able to reduce some of the disease burden and even save some people from progressing to more serious disease.”

The study It was published in the magazine Gastrointestinal diseases.


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