Purpose: Alimentary factors, especially those modifying the intestinal flora, may influence the course of inflammatory bowel disease. It is known that T and B cells of patients with Crohn's disease can be stimulated with the yeast antigen, mannan. We evaluated the impact of eating habits with special respect to food containing yeast on the course of inflammatory bowel disease.
Methods: Questionnaires were sent to 180 German-speaking patients of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Outpatient Clinic at the University Hospital Bern, Switzerland. The following information was obtained by the questionnaires: (1) course of disease, (2) eating habits, (3) environmental data, and (4) inflammatory bowel disease questionnaire. The survey was anonymous.
Results: A total of 145 patients (80.5 percent 95 with Crohn's disease, and 50 with ulcerative colitis) responded. Food items containing yeast were better tolerated by patients with ulcerative colitis than by patients with Crohn's disease. A significant difference between the two groups was observed concerning food containing raw yeast (dough, P = 0.04; and pastry, P = 0.001).
Conclusions: Food items containing raw yeast led to more frequent problems for patients with Crohn's disease than for patients with ulcerative colitis. This observation supports our previous data, which showed the stimulatory effect of the yeast antigen, mannan, on B and T cells of patients with Crohn's disease but not of controls.