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Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to a group of long-term inflammatory conditions that affect the digestive tract. The cause still remains unknown, however over 1 million people in the US and 2.5 million people in Europe are affected (1). The most common types of IBD are:
  • Ulcerative colitis: Found in the innermost lining of your colon and rectum. It produces inflammation and ulcers.
  • Crohn’s disease: Found anywhere in the digestive tract (from mouth to anus), but usually within the small intestine.
  • Microscopic Colitis: An inflammatory condition of the colon, broken down into two forms—collagenous and lymphocytic colitis.
There are sub-types of these diseases based on where it affects the gastrointestinal tract. At this time there is no known medical cure for IBD, but there is a range of treatment options to reduce inflammation and manage symptoms. It is important to note that IBD is distinctly different from the more common inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is functional digestive disorder rather than a chronic inflammatory disease. IBD is more severe and must be managed properly as it can cause irreversible damage and may even be life-threatening.

Can IBD be managed naturally?

Diet changes are required alongside medicine to manage symptoms, correct nutrient deficiencies and reduce the risk of recurrence. There are specific dietary patterns that can prevent flare-ups. Depending on the sub-type of IBD that is being managed, different diets will be more effective and include:
  • A low fiber or low residue diet
  • The specific carbohydrate diet for IBD
  • Anti-inflammatory diet for IBD
  • Low FODMAP diet for IBD
  • The Maker's diet
Some supplements including curcumin and certain probiotics may also be beneficial.

Would you like guidance for your specific digestive disorder?

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Joe Leech (MSc Nutrition)
Dietitian from Australia