An Autoimmune Protocol Diet Improves Patient-Reported Quality of Life in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Crohns Colitis 360. 2019 Oct;1(3):otz019. doi: 10.1093/crocol/otz019. Epub 2019 Aug 7.


Background: Prior studies suggest dietary modification may improve clinical response or remission rates in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Our aim was to examine whether an autoimmune protocol diet improves quality of life in patients with active Crohn disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC).

Methods: We conducted an uncontrolled clinical trial of the autoimmune protocol diet in adult patients with active IBD (Harvey-Bradshaw Index ≥ 5 for CD or partial Mayo score ≥ 3 for UC, and erosions/ulcers on endoscopy and/or elevated fecal calprotectin). The dietary intervention consisted of a 6-week elimination phase, followed by a 5-week maintenance phase. Short Inflammatory Bowel Disease Questionnaire (SIBDQ) was completed at baseline, and weeks 3, 6, 9, and 11.

Results: The final cohort included 6 UC and 9 CD participants. Mean SIBDQ score improved significantly from baseline (46.5) to weeks 3 (54.0, P = 0.02), 6 (53.3, P = 0.02), 9 (62.0, P = 0.03), and 11 (60.5, P = 0.05). Among participants completing all 5 surveys, mean SIBDQ increased from 46.5 to 61.5 by week 11 (P = 0.03). By week 3, participants experienced significant improvements in bowel movement frequency (36%, P = 0.04), stress (28%, P = 0.01), and ability to perform leisure/sport activities (29%, P = 0.02). Effects were not significantly different between CD and UC participants.

Conclusions: Dietary modification can improve quality of life as early as week 3 in patients with active IBD. Larger randomized controlled trials are needed to examine dietary interventions in IBD.

Keywords: Crohn disease; autoimmune protocol; diet; inflammatory bowel disease; quality of life; ulcerative colitis.