Which dietary modifications may be beneficial in the management of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?

Updated: Apr 10, 2020
  • Author: William A Rowe, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Although diet has been well demonstrated to have little or no influence on inflammatory activity in persons with ulcerative colitis, it may influence symptoms. For this reason, patients are often advised to make a variety of dietary modifications, especially adaptation of a low-residue diet, although the evidence does not support a low-residue diet as beneficial in the treatment of ulcerative colitis. Such a diet, however, might decrease the frequency of bowel movements.

Unlike in patients with ulcerative colitis, diet can influence inflammatory activity in persons with Crohn disease. Nothing by mouth (NPO) can hasten the reduction of inflammation, as may the use of a liquid or predigested formula for enteral feeding. Although a meta-analysis in 1995 demonstrated that steroids were superior to liquid diet alone for Crohn disease, a liquid diet seemed superior to a regular diet for reducing inflammation. The problem with using enteral liquid diets, especially the predigested formulations, is that palatability limits the intake of adequate energy (calories) to meet patient requirements. Parenteral alimentation may be needed.

In a prospective study of 56 patients with quiescent Crohn disease on maintenance infliximab therapy (5 mg/kg, q 8 wk), Yamamoto et al found that concomitant enteral nutrition did not significantly improve the maintenance rate of clinical remission in patients with Crohn disease. [114] In the study, 32 patients received concomitant enteral nutrition (elemental diet infusion at night; a low-fat diet during the day), and 24 patients did not receive enteral nutrition and had no dietary restrictions. [114]

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