Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Answers from IBD Expert Dr. Steven Brant

Man clutching his stomach in pain

About 1.5 million Americans suffer from IBD, and 25 percent of cases affect people under the age of 20.

Dr. Steven Brant, director of the Meyerhoff Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Johns Hopkins , answered questions from followers in a recent Facebook chat.

What difference can a healthy diet play in preventing or weakening symptoms of Crohn’s disease?

A healthy diet is always better, and some patients report more Crohn’s disease flares when eating junk food. I suggest to my patients they limit sweets and sugary foods and decrease the relative proportion of meats as there have been some studies linking these foods to risks of developing Crohn’s disease.

If patients have a narrowing of their intestines, then they may need to be on a low residue diet as fibrous and poorly digested foods will not move through the narrowed bowel well and may cause worse symptoms and potentially even obstruction. Otherwise, well balanced diets such as the Mediterranean diets may be useful.