Presented by James D. Lewis, MD, MSCE, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Research has shown that what we eat can have an impact on autoimmune and systemic inflammatory disease. This webinar describes inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), its dietary risk factors, the effectiveness of managing IBD through diet, and how findings from IBD and nutrition research could impact outcomes for patients with chronic inflammation from arthritis or other diseases.

This webinar also highlights current research into diet-based management and treatment of IBD and answers common questions people may have about the way diet interacts with their health.

Fast Facts from the Webinar

1. A high-fiber diet can help prevent IBD

Diet, among other factors, is associated with the risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) including Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). Research indicates that breastfeeding, high-fiber diets, and fruit and vegetable intake reduce the risk of IBD, while higher fat and meat diets increase the risk of developing or exacerbating it. Developing and maintaining a well-balanced diet of unprocessed foods with fresh fruits and vegetables earlier in life may be more important than changing a diet later in life to reduce the risk of developing autoimmune conditions, including IBD.

2. Food additives may contribute to inflammation

While we know there is some connection between nutrition and inflammation, it is not clear which specific foods or ingredients are pro-inflammatory. However, some evidence from research suggests that food additives may contribute to inflammation. One thing that all anti-inflammatory diets have in common is meals cooked at home using fresh produce and ingredients.

3. Researchers are still studying specific diets for potential benefits

Conventional diets such as Atkin’s or low-carbohydrate diets where certain foods or food groups are eliminated or added to a person’s diet to treat disease are a relatively new topic of research. One of the most-studied diets, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), was first researched for celiac disease but has since been used as treatment for other autoimmune conditions, including Crohn’s disease. Smaller studies evaluated the effects of the Mediterranean diet, Cretan diet, vegan diet, and anti-inflammatory diet, all without definitive results.

4. Don’t consider diet changes a replacement for medication or other treatment

It is critical to incorporate any diet changes into an overall treatment plan — and not consider them as a replacement for medications your doctor prescribes to treat your disease. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or treatment plan.

The Patient Perspective

Here’s what patient participants said they learned from this webinar:

  • “We are all different. What might work for someone, may not work for another. You need to find what works for you.” — Brenda K., patient participant
  • “Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet — with exercise — is beneficial to those with chronic autoimmune disease. Stick to foods that are unprocessed and reduce meat consumption.” — Sheryl B., patient participant

About the Presenter

James D. Lewis, MD, MSCE, is a Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology, Senior Scholar in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Associate Director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease program at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Get Involved in Arthritis Research

If you are diagnosed with arthritis or another musculoskeletal condition, we encourage you to participate in future studies by joining CreakyJoints’ patient research registry, ArthritisPower. ArthritisPower is the first-ever patient-led, patient-centered research registry for joint, bone, and inflammatory skin conditions. Learn more and sign up here.

CreakyJoints website material and content are intended for evidence based informational and educational purposes only. Any material or content on our website is not intended to substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a physician or qualified health provider
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