Dietary changes can lessen Crohn’s symptoms.
Crohn’s disease is a constant source of misery for sufferers. This chronic condition, which triggers inflammation in the digestive tract, is commonly found in the small intestine and the symptoms can include persistent diarrhea, stomach cramps, joint pain, weight loss, and anemia. A new study suggests there may be a way to alter your diet to tame this difficult-to-treat disease.
One common cause of the condition, which affects as many as 780,000 Americans according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, is an overactive immune system that perceives harmless gut bacteria as foreign invaders and responds by producing inflammation. Standard treatments include anti-inflammatories and immune suppressors. However, the new study out of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (CWRU-M) suggests that a diet rich in healthy fats and oils such as coconut oil or cocoa butter may lead to specific changes in gut bacteria that could fight harmful inflammation.
Although the research was conducted on mice with a Crohn’s-like disease, the results are the first to show “how high-fat diets can alter gut bacteria to combat inflammation,” according to lead author Alexander Rodriguez-Palacios, DVM, DVSc, PhD and Assistant Professor of Medicine at CWRU-M at the annual Digestive Disease Week Conference in Chicago, Illinois. In the study, the mice who were fed even low concentrations of coconut oil or cocoa butter were found to have up to 30 percent fewer types of gut bacteria and less severe intestinal inflammation and less than those fed a typical diet.
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