Anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats and IBD

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Colleen McConnell is a dietetic intern at the Jill Roberts Center for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

By Colleen McConnell

You may have heard about the potential benefits of omega-3 fats for conditions like heart disease, but did you know that there is considerable research on the possible benefits of omega-3 fats on the development and progression of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential anti-inflammatory fats. They’re “essential” because we can obtain them only through food or supplements since the human body cannot synthesize them. Their anti-inflammatory properties are thought to help the gut recover from IBD flares and ease symptoms.

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Nutrient deficiencies are common in newly diagnosed celiac disease

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Brandon Caraballosa is a dietetic intern at the Jill Roberts Center for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

By Brandon Caraballosa

Living with celiac disease has become a bit more manageable thanks to the popularity of the gluten-free diet. In fact, even people without a diagnosis of celiac disease are self-prescribing a gluten-free diet because they feel so much better avoiding this protein. The good news is that they feel better, the bad news is that they might be doing themselves a disservice by not being formally tested.

Assume you’ve actually been living for years with untreated celiac disease? Untreated celiac disease can result in a variety of nutrient deficiencies and people can develop complications that require immediate attention.

A 2013 Dutch study in the journal Nutrients investigated the prevalence of vitamin and mineral deficiencies in patients with newly diagnosed untreated celiac disease.

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Low FODMAP diet shows promise for IBD

ChemCompound_sqClinicians around the world are recommending the low FODMAP diet as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  Research suggests that over two-thirds of people with IBS report symptom improvement or resolution when following the diet.

FODMAPs are certain types of poorly absorbed carbohydrates that are highly fermentable in the presence of bacteria.  They can cause a variety of uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Many people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) also struggle with IBS and continue to experience GI symptoms in the absence of inflammation.

A brand new study published in the IBD Journal investigated the effectiveness of a low FODMAP diet in managing various degrees of IBS-like symptoms in eighty-eight people with inactive inflammatory bowel disease.

The results are promising.

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High protein diets linked to adverse gut health

baconburgerYou might be familiar with the beneficial by-products that result from our gut bacteria feeding on indigestible carbohydrates, like fiber.  But, what happens to undigested protein that ends up in your large intestine (aka your colon), and why should you care?

A new review article titled “Insights into colonic protein fermentation, its modulation and potential health implications” investigated the harmful effects of protein fermentation and their relationship to irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, colorectal cancer, and foul-smelling farts (sorry, folks).

Although our bodies are well-equipped to efficiently break down protein, some of it still escapes digestion and ends up in the colon.

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April is IBS Awareness Month

IBS awareness monthI’m happy to share that April 1st marked the beginning of IBS Awareness month.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal condition that affects an estimated 30 million Americans and millions more worldwide—men, women and children.  IBS is not well understood in the medical community and not always easy to talk about.

As a result, many people are forced to suffer in silence.

People with IBS can experience abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation, fecal urgency, excessive and uncomfortable gas, mucus in the stool, and a feeling of incomplete bowel movements.  These physical symptoms take a serious toll on one’s quality of life as do the psychological and financial burdens.  Because IBS is not a life-threatening illness, too many people, mostly women, are quickly dismissed by their physicians, often made to feel like they’re crazy.

You’re not crazy.  IBS is a very real disease.

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A healthy sugar? Not!

This infographic is from 2014, but I felt compelled to share it today because some of the smartest people I know still believe that certain added sugars are good for us.

Please remember that added sugar, defined as sugars and syrups added to foods during processing, preparation or at the table, offers zero nutritional benefit.  Most of us eat way too much sugar and it’s making us sick.

Check out an earlier post for more information on how much sugar is safe to eat.  And, to find out if you’re choosing the “healthiest” sugar, check out this fun infographic by Noelle Campbell.

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Click image to enlarge.

This infographic is from an article in the Huffington Post titled “Sorry, But There’s No Such Thing as a Healthy Sugar.”  Definitely worth a read.

Butternut Squash Grain-Free Muffins

muffinSatisfying a food craving on a restricted diet can sometimes require quite a bit of culinary creativity. Fortunately, there are people like Lillian Mahl, who are up for the challenge. Thank you, Lillian, for sharing her easy recipe for delicious grain-free, low sugar Butternut Squash Muffins.

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Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth Q&A

First_aid_sq Ingredient1, a fun mobile food app, asked me to identify and comment on a “tummy upset” that I felt all of their readers should know about, and I chose small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

SIBO, a major contributing factor to IBS, occurs when excessive amounts of bacteria end up in the small intestine, where it doesn’t belong. These bacteria can contribute to a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, notably gas, bloating and irregular bowel movements.

To learn more about SIBO and how it might be playing a role in your GI condition, check out the feature “The Tummy Stressor You Need to Know” at ingredient1.

Dietary pattern linked to Ulcerative Colitis

First_aid_sqThe rates of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), notably Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, have skyrocketed over the past 50 years, and many experts suspect diet might be to blame.

Earlier this year a group of European researchers published their findings from a recent prospective study titled “Dietary Patterns and Risk of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Europe: Results from the EPIC Study.”

Physicians are often too quick to dismiss the possible role of diet in causing and managing IBD, so it’s a nice surprise to see a whole group of medical doctors involved in the design and execution of this study.
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Minimize GI symptoms with good posture

First_aid_sqThere are many reasons why I look forward to the weekends, and the NY Times Sunday crossword is one of them. I usually flip to the end of the magazine ignoring what’s in between (then I look at the puzzle for five minutes before being reminded that I am not particularly good at crosswords).

At any rate, this past week I decided to flip through the pages of “The Work Issue” and stopped at a spread of photos of working men and women eating their lunches at their desks, an occurrence apparently referred to by social scientists as “desktop dining.”

I love learning about what people eat, but what stole my attention in these photos was how these people were eating. In most cases they were hunched over with their necks forward and their heads up.

As a nutritionist specializing in gastrointestinal issues, I’ve learned that how you eat is as important as what you eat.

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