People who suffer from Crohn’s disease and consume a diet high in fiber may be up to 40 percent less likely to have disease flares compared to those who avoid high-fiber foods, according to a new study published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) have been associated with an abnormal mucosal response to the gastrointestinal microbiota. Although dietary fiber affects the gastrointestinal microbiota, there is limited information on the role of fiber on IBD activity. Using the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America Partners Internet cohort, researchers at George Mason University examined the association of dietary fiber intake with flares in patients with chronic inflammatory bowel diseases.
For the study, 1,619 patients were identified—1,130 with Crohn’s disease (CD) and 489 with ulcerative colitis (UC)/indeterminate colitis. Completed dietary surveys were collected from the patients at baseline and at 6-month follow-up. Consumption of fiber and whole grains was classified into quartiles and deciles. At the 6-month follow-up period, the researchers considered a disease flare to be a disease activity index score above remission cut-off values.
The researchers found that the risk for disease flare differed by type of disease. Patients with CD were about 40 percent less likely to have a disease flare when they did not avoid high-fiber foods compared to those who reported that they did avoid high-fiber foods. Patients with CD in the highest quartile of fiber intake were significantly less likely to have a flare. For patients with UC, researchers found no link between dietary fiber intake and disease.
“The results of this study support findings reported in investigations occurring in the 1980s—low fiber eating does not result in improved outcomes for individuals with CD compared to individuals with CD not restricting fiber intake," the researchers wrote. They concluded that the “recommendations to limit dietary fiber should be re-evaluated."
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