Diet is a powerful tool when used as part of a comprehensive medical management plan. Expanding research shows a number of dietary IBD therapies to be effective, and while many have commonalities, some also have subtle to significant differences. Given patients' microbial and genetic diversity, the optimal therapeutic approach is often contingent on the individual, and as a result, is best achieved through a process of personalization. Considering all of these factors, dietary therapy can prove challenging to navigate. A closer investigation will provide a framework to become familiar with the options available in nutritional therapy for IBD.

What is Nutritional Therapy?

Nutritional therapy consists of the use of therapeutic diets and/or enteral nutrition in patients with IBD, with the goal of both improving clinical symptoms and reducing inflammation, leading to induction and/or maintenance of remission. It can be utilized as primary therapy when medically appropriate or as adjunctive therapy with immune suppression and biologics and is well tolerated, with patients reporting improved quality of life (Sandell A et al). Progress should be evaluated using the same standard and techniques as pharmaceutical therapy, by monitoring inflammation via laboratory work and endoscopy, as well as assessing clinical symptoms.

Therapeutic Diets

Therapeutic diets are whole-food based, nutritionally balanced dietary plans that improve symptoms, reduce inflammation, and aid in mucosal healing. Items that have been shown to be harmful (processed foods and additives) are eliminated and items with potential deleterious effects in IBD (gluten, sugar, and dairy) are either eliminated or limited, while the quantity and variety of beneficial fruits and vegetables are increased.

Enteral Nutrition

Enteral nutrition involves the use of a nutritionally complete liquid diet, often formula-based. It includes Exclusive Enteral Nutrition (EEN), which consists solely (exclusively) of a liquid diet with no solid food for 6-8 weeks, sometimes up to 12 weeks, and Partial Enteral Nutrition (PEN), in which a combination of liquid nutrition and solid foods is consumed.

Resources

Patient Portal

Are you or is someone you love a patient with IBD looking for more information on nutritional therapy? Visit our Patient Portal for helpful resources.

Clinician Resources

Are you a medical professional looking for more information on integrating nutritional therapy into your practice? Visit our Clinician Resources.

About Us

Nutritional Therapy for IBD is a new 501c3 established to promote awareness of dietary options for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, providing educational resources to assist in the implementation of nutritional therapy into clinical practice. It is an independent organization with no affiliations to industry, corporations, or advocacy groups.