Foods to help soothe IBD symptoms - The IBD-AID diet
Maggie Lo, HK BioTek Intern
What is IBD?
IBD or inflammatory bowel disease is the chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. This is the umbrella term used for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They are both about the inflammation of the digestive tract, but they target different parts of the digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis is the inflammation of the colon which Crohn’s disease can affect the entire digestive tract. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloody stool, weight loss, diarrhea, and fatigue. The cause of IBD is usually due to a defect in the immune system, incorrectly triggered by environmental reasons. Also, IBD has been linked to the unbalance of the gut microbial ecosystem.
What is the IBD-AID diet?
The IBD-AID diet is the IBD-Anti-Inflammatory Diet that is helpful to soothe symptoms of IBD. This diet focuses on developing the correct gut bacteria with proper probiotic and prebiotic foods. With a good microbiome in the digestive tract, inflammation would be diminished and symptoms of IBD will be relieved. This diet also contains foods that don’t flare up the digestive tract. The reason for this diet is because a study concluded that patients with IBD have gut bacteria imbalance in the digestive tracts, which contribute to inflammation.
What foods should we include?
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids not only help to form the structure of our cell membranes and help with brain development. They provide energy for the body and they inhibit and compete with the synthesis of mediators of inflammation. Thus omega 3 balances out with omega 6 towards a less inflammable activity. Sources of omega 3 mostly come from fish where fatty fish have higher levels of omega 3s. Also, farmed fish usually have higher levels of omega 3s that wild-caught fish. Other foods containing omega 3 include beef. Some are fortified with omega 3 including certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, and soy beverages.
Foods rich in probiotics
Probiotics are microorganisms that are naturally present in fermented foods. Probiotics influence the intestinal microbiota and they can inhibit the growth of pathogenic microorganisms in the digestive tract. Probiotics are most commonly found in fermented foods including fermented vegetables and dairy products. However, since dairy products may be triggering to the digestive tracts, people with RA should consume fermented vegetables like pickles, kimchi, miso, and kombucha. However, be aware of the sodium content on some of these foods as some use salt as a means of preservation.
People with IBD should have a low residue diet, which is soft and bland in texture and taste. This causes less irritation in the BI tracts, having fewer concerns of a flare-up.
What should we avoid?
This diet focuses on having a lower inflammatory irritation to the digestive tracts. Therefore, this diet recommends avoiding fatty foods, lactose, sweets, and caffeine. These ingredients will contribute to the flare-up of inflammatory responses.
High fiber foods, including raw vegetables, most raw fruits, nuts, whole grains, and fibrous meats.will aggregate and trigger digestive tracts. These foods will worsen the symptoms of IBD because these are foods that are harder to digest and harder for the digestive tract to process. Also, these foods may increase stool output so avoiding these foods will decrease the burden of the digestive tract.
Intake huge amounts of food in one sitting. This would overload the digestive tract, causing aggregation and discomfort in the digestive tracts
Fatty foods will increase stool output, burdening the digestive tract.
Sugary foods can change the microbiota of the gut and may cause inflammatory responses in the body.
Caffeine and alcohol aggregate symptoms of IBD.
In general, eat foods that increase the health of the gut microbiota because this affects the symptoms of IBD. Also, eat foods that are softer and bland because they would not aggregate the digestive tracts. Lastly, eat foods that will decrease inflammatory reactions, like omega -3 fatty acids.