5 Questions to Better Understand and Manage IBD
November is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS) Awareness Month. Did you know that Canada is the ONE country in the world with the most people affected by IBD (1 out of 150 people, about 235 000 Canadians)? Here’s the answer to the 5 most common questions on how to manage IBD and nutrition.
1. Crohn’s disease vs Ulcerative colitis, what’s the difference?
Crohn’s and Ulcerative colitis are the 2 main IBD diseases. They are both characterised by inflammation of one or more parts of the digestive tract, the main difference being the location of the inflammation. In ulcerative colitis, inflammation is found only in the colon and rectum, whereas it can be found anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract in Crohn’s disease. There are other differences between these two diseases, but this is the main differentiating factor.
2. Can diet help treat or induce (help) remission in IBD?
Unfortunately no diet or special regimen can be recommended to treat or induce remission for people with IBD. However, nutrition can still play an important role, I’ll show you how in question 3.
We know that enteral nutrition (feeding through a tube that allows nutritional supplements to go directly into the gastrointestinal tract) can help induce remission in children. Unfortunately, this effect cannot be replicated in adult patients.
Nutritional recommendations for people with IBD can be summarized in the following two points:
- Have the most varied diet you can tolerate and take into account which foods cause your symptoms.
- Eat small portions, often. By doing this, you allow nutrients to be better absorbed and give yourself a better chance of meeting your needs, even if your appetite is reduced.
More research is needed to find out if diet plays a role in the development of IBD and if some foods can contribute to induce an active period.