Dietary Treatment for Crohn’s Disease

Dietary Treatment for Crohn’s Disease

Inflammation has recently emerged as an important player in the development  of age-related disability and many of our major chronic diseases including heart  disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Now that laboratory tests  such as C-reactive protein have been developed, we can measure the effects  different foods and diets have on inflammatory markers.

Most plant-based foods decrease inflammation. Processing destroys the  anti-inflammatory effects of some (garlic decreases inflammation but garlic  powder does not), but improves these effects in others (tomato juice decreases  inflammation but whole tomatoes do not).

Do these anti-inflammatory plant foods actually have an impact on  inflammatory disease mortality though?  I profile a new study  out of Australia, which followed about 2,500 older adults and their diets for 15  years. In that time, about 200 participants died of inflammatory diseases,  allowing the scientists to calculate the specific aspect of the survivors’ diets  that seemed to help the most. It was nuts! The equivalent of half a walnut a day  appeared to cut the risk of dying from inflammatory disease in nearly half. Fish  consumption, to their surprise, didn’t seem to help, which may be due to pro-inflammatory  industrial pollutants that build up the food chain. This may help explain  why most studies done to date on those eating vegetarian or vegan have found  lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers in their bodies.

However, just because plant-based diets decrease markers of  inflammation doesn’t necessarily mean that plant-based diets can successfully be  used to fight inflammatory disease. To find that out, you’ve got to put it to  the test. The gold standard for evidence in nutritional science is an  interventional trial. You split people into two groups and ask half to go on one  diet, half to go on another, and then stand back and see what happens. That’s  just what researchers recently did for the autoimmune inflammatory bowel  condition known as Crohn’s disease.

Inflammatory bowel disease risk has been tied to arachidonic acid, which may partially explain the  animal protein connection given the levels in chicken and eggs. The anti-inflammatory nature of  plant foods may explain why those eating plant-based diets have less diabetes, fewer allergies, less heart disease, better moods, and fewer chronic diseases in chronic diseases in general.

In health, Michael Greger, M.D.

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Herb of the Day for June 9th is Mints

Herb of the Day

Mints

Mints especially spearmint, are drunk as a tea to comfort the nerves. Mint boiled in milk is a remedy for lactose intolerance. Leaves are bruised and applied with salt to dog bites. As a culinary herb, it is boiled with fish or dried and added with pennyroyal to puddings and green peas.,