Modification of enteral diets in inflammatory bowel disease

Proc Nutr Soc. 2001 Nov;60(4):457-61. doi: 10.1079/pns2001120.


The provision of food is thought to promote the maintenance of gut integrity. Nutrients are able to elicit and affect both systemic and mucosal immune responses. Enteral diet therapy has long been known to be efficacious in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), particularly in childhood Crohn's disease. However, the mechanisms of action of these diets are not clear. Nutritional repletion, direct effects on the gut mucosa or decreased intestinal permeability have all been postulated as being important in nutritional therapy. There is some evidence that the enteral diet has a direct effect on the gut mucosa by reducing cytokine production and the accompanying inflammation, thus leading to decreased intestinal permeability. Modifications of enteral diet composition have been evaluated in many studies. Such modifications include fat and/or protein content and the addition of bioactive peptides. The fatty acid composition of the enteral diet seems to have a much greater impact on its efficacy than modification of the N source. As specific fatty acids are precursors of inflammatory mediators derived from arachidonic acid, the reduction in these components may be beneficial in nutritional therapy for IBD. Addition of bioactive peptides to enteral diet formulas may also have a role; such peptides may have specific growth factor or anti-inflammatory actions. There is still much work to be done to define disease-specific enteral diet formulas that are effective as therapies for both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane Permeability
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy
  • Crohn Disease / therapy
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / therapeutic use
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Enteral Nutrition*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy*
  • Mucous Membrane / physiology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins