This Diet May Be Beneficial for Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Researchers recently examined the impact of a popular diet on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients and found adherence to it significantly reduced malnutrition-related parameters and liver steatosis.

For three consecutive years, the Mediterranean diet has claimed the No. 1 spot on the U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of diets—and seemingly with good reason. It has been tied to lower skin care risk among women, as well as lower risk of adverse events in pregnant women with metabolic risk factors. Further, a 2016 study published in JAMA found it may reduce the risk of hip fracture in women, and a 2017 International Journal of Cancer study said it could help women may prevent breast cancer.


A 2018 Molecular Psychiatry study found the Mediterranean diet may help stave off depression. Several studies have also found the Mediterranean diet may prevent hypertensionstroke, and type 2 diabetes.

The researchers took on the present study because the diet has also been linked to improving fat tissue and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and obesity.

“Despite the increased prevalence of overweight and obesity in the IBD population, the impact of nutritional intervention on disease activity, response to therapies, obesity-related comorbidities such as NAFLD, and [quality of life] QoL is poorly defined,” they wrote.

In order to garner a better understanding, they assessed patients with IBD (Crohn’s disease [CD] and ulcerative colitis [UC]) who followed the Mediterranean diet for six months. Data collection at baseline and six-month follow-up included body mass index (BMI), body tissue composition, liver steatosis and function, serum lipid profile, clinical disease activity, and inflammatory biomarkers (C-reactive protein and fecal calprotectin).

Mediterranean Diet Improves Many Outcomes

Final analysis included 142 IBD patients (84 UC, 58 CD). At six months, adhering to the Mediterranean diet was associated with improved BMI (UC −0.42, P=0.002; CD −0.48, P=0.032) and waist circumference (UC −1.25 cm, P=0.037; CD −1.37 cm, P=0.041). Both groups also had significantly lower proportions of patients affected by all-grade liver steatosis (UC: baseline 31 of 84 [36.9%] vs. six months 18 of 84 [21.4%], P=0.0016; CD: baseline 27 of 58 [46.6%] vs. six months 18 of 58 [31.0%], P<0.001). After six months, fewer patients with stable therapy had active disease (UC: baseline 14 of 59 [23.7%] vs. six months 4 of 59 [6.8%], P=0.004; CD: baseline 9 of 51 [17.6%] vs. six months 2 of 51 [3.0%], P=0.011) and elevated inflammatory biomarkers. QoL improved in both groups. No associations were observed between the Mediterranean diet and serum lipid profile or liver function.

The study was published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

“The adoption of a proper alimentary habit based on Md and the achievement of an adequate compliance might be pivotal in the clinical management of these patients. However, more studies with larger cohorts of patients are needed to improve our knowledge on the relationship between diet and IBD,” the researchers concluded.