People with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) often experience symptoms such as loss of appetite and weight loss. Information here may not be suitable for everyone with IBD, so paying attention to your own body is the most important thing that you can do.

Keeping a food diary can help you to discover if you have any sensitivities which trigger flare-ups. Common triggers include, dairy (milk, cheese, cream and butter), gluten (for example, wheat, barley and rye) and some fruits or vegetables. Diet is not a cause of IBD but in many people certain foods may make symptoms worse. These trigger foods can vary widely from person to person and the extent to which they aggravate can also vary hugely.

There is no ‘magic diet’, your IBD is as unique as you are. Following a healthy, well balanced diet and understanding what foods trigger your symptoms will help you to manage your IBD. We are proud to partner with IBD Relief, a website that delivers a host of information for people living with the condition.

Two easy tips for managing IBD

  • Eat smaller portions regularly. Divide the daily intake into 5-6 smaller portions and eat every 2-3 hours. This is better than eating less frequently but larger portions. Smaller portions help to reduce the load on the gut, making its job easier.
  • Eat less greasy and fatty foods and drink less caffeine, fizzy drinks and alcohol as these can cause diarrhoea.

IBD and FODMAPs

FODMAPs are associated with sensitivity in both IBS and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.  They are a collection of poorly absorbed simple and complex sugars that are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables and also in milk and wheat. These pass through the stomach and small intestine and can be fermented by the bacteria that reside in the bowel.

In people with a sensitive gut, they can cause symptoms of bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. A low FODMAP diet is often prescribed in these cases. A wealth of information on FODMAPs is available from Kings College London.

IBD and emulsifiers

Recent research, published in the journal Nature, has established a link between emulsifiers and IBD. During the experiment mice were fed common emulsifiers through their water, leaving the rest of their diet unchanged. They found that in the mice prone to developing inflammation, they increased the frequency and severity of IBD episodes.

Significantly, as well as affecting the IBD mice, the normal mice became obese and developed problems with their metabolisms, including developing glucose intolerance.

What were the emulsifiers doing?

The researchers noticed that the bacterial make up within the gut of the mice had changed and become less diverse. The bacteria had also moved closer to the lining of the gut.

They concluded that the emulsifiers had broken down the heavy mucus that lines the gut in mammals and therefore enabled bacteria to make contact directly with it, leading to inflammation and the metabolic changes that were observed in the mice.

What are emulsifiers?

There are around 15 different emulsifiers used in modern foods. They improve the texture of things like ice cream and stop mayonnaise from separating. The research team intend to move on to other additives, such as artificial sweeteners, and cautioned

“This (emulsifiers) for sure is not the only driver for developing Inflammatory Bowel Disease”