Scientists have identified a special diet that may help Crohn’s disease in kids, as well as ulcerative colitis without the use of medications, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology by Dr. David Suskind, professor of pediatrics and director of clinical gastroenterology at Seattle Children’s Hospital (and as recently published in Web MD). Crohn’s disease in kids was once considered rare in children, but this chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is now recognized as one of the most important chronic diseases that affect children and teens (with between 20-30% of all patients with Crohn’s presenting symptoms when they are under the age of 20).
Some of the key factors highlighted in the diet are non-processed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, meats, and nuts. Over 12 weeks, the new diet appeared to ease all signs of these inflammatory bowel diseases in eight of the 10 affected children, researchers report. “The study shows that without other intervention, other changes, we can improve individuals’ clinical as well as laboratory markers,” explained Dr. Suskind. “I’m not surprised,” Suskind added, “primarily, because preliminary studies opened our eyes to the idea that diet had an impact.”
Standard treatment for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease in kids usually includes steroids and other immune-suppressing drugs. With severe symptoms, surgery is sometimes required to remove portions of the intestine. Suskind and his team put the 10 patients, between the ages of 10 and 17, on a special diet. The diet is known as the specific carbohydrate diet. No other measures were used to treat the study participants’ active Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.
The proposed diet removes grains, most dairy products, and processed foods and sugars, except for honey. Those on the specific carbohydrate diet can eat nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, and nuts. Suskind’s findings add to growing research suggesting a potential therapeutic benefit from the specific carbohydrate diet to inflammatory bowel patients.