The Role of Diet in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2017 May;19(5):22. doi: 10.1007/s11894-017-0563-z.


Purpose of review: Diet may play both a causal and therapeutic role for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Physicians caring for patients with IBD are often asked to make dietary recommendations. However, there are no well-established guidelines on the use of diet as a treatment of IBD. In this review, we describe the evidence supporting diet as a potential cause for IBD, patient-perceived symptoms based on diet, current research on various diets as a treatment for IBD, and areas of future research.

Recent findings: New studies in murine models suggest that dietary emulsifiers may trigger the gut inflammatory cascade. New studies of restriction diets in patients have shown a relationship between dietary intake, symptoms, and bowel inflammation. Until several ongoing clinical trials are completed, a reasonable approach to dietary recommendations for patients with IBD is to propose a well-balanced, healthy (low-fat, low-sugar) diet prepared from fresh ingredients, such as the Mediterranean diet, with exclusions of self-identified foods that worsen or trigger IBD-related symptoms.

Keywords: Diet; IBD pathogenesis; IBD therapy; Inflammatory bowel disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / diet therapy*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / etiology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / psychology
  • Risk Factors