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In the U.S. alone, over 3 million adults live with some form of inflammatory bowel disease, like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.
And while the symptoms of the disease, from pain and cramping to diarrhea and fatigue, are bad enough — every IBD sufferer also faces a dramatically increased risk of colon cancer.
This skyrocketing risk is due to the long-term, chronic inflammation of the gut.
Sadly, while the No. 1 question of most people with IBD is “What can I do about it?” — especially when it comes to diet — the medical community has really not had any hard and fast answers.
It’s really been up to the people living with the disease to determine what foods make them feel worse, upping their inflammation and their cancer risk.
Now, however, thanks to research, we know a little more about what not to eat if you have inflammatory bowel disease. Fair warning — your kitchen and your diet are probably packed with it!
Altering gut bacteria and inflaming the bowel
The study, performed by a team of researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine, tested three mouse models of IBD.
The researchers fed the mice high amounts of fructose, a common sugar, and guess what…
Across the board, fructose made inflammation of the colon far worse.
In fact, according to the scientists, a high fructose diet resulted in “notable effects in their gut bacteria including changes in their type, metabolism and localization within the colon.”
But even more, fructose may very well be the cause of rapidly growing cases of IBD…
“The increasing incidence of IBD parallels higher levels of fructose consumption in the United States and other countries,” says David Montrose, an assistant professor in the Department of Pathology and faculty researcher in the Stony Brook University Cancer Center. “Our findings provide evidence of a direct link between dietary fructose and IBD and support the concept that high consumption of fructose could worsen disease in people with IBD. This is important because it has the potential to provide guidance on diet choices for IBD patients, something that is currently lacking.”
Ditch IBD by going fructose-free
This means that for anyone living with IBD, a sure way to calm that inflammation and reduce the pain and suffering is to take fructose out of the equation.
Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done, but not impossible — and certainly worth the effort to improve the quality of life for anyone living with this condition.
Fructose is in a huge, ever-increasing number of the foods (and drinks) that most of us consume on a daily basis.
Dietary sources of fructose include:
- High fructose corn syrup — This common fructose source is lurking in candy, sodas, sweetened juices, packaged baked goods, condiments like ketchup and salad dressings, crackers, granola and nutrition bars, and nut butters. Bottom line: if it’s prepackaged, it’s highly likely it contains fructose.
- Fruits and vegetables — Fruits and even some veggies contain fructose. But the ones with the highest levels of fructose are apples, grapes, watermelon, pears, plums, asparagus, sugar snap peas, artichokes, cauliflower, mushrooms and zucchini.
- Sweeteners — Honey, maple and agave syrup are also hidden sources of fructose.
- Chewing gum — Most chewing gums contain fructose or sugar alcohols that can worsen symptoms of IBD.
- Jams and marmalades — Made with fructose-rich fruits, jams and marmalades are a no-go if you’re trying to avoid the sugar.
- Sweet wines — Dessert wines such as muscatel, port and sherry sport a high fructose content.
- Miscellaneous — Also check ingredient lists for crystalline fructose, sorbitol, fructooligosaccharides, corn syrup solids and sugar alcohols.
So, if you’re living with IBD, whether Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, that is the list of foods you want to avoid.
One diet that follows along the lines of avoiding those foods is the FODMAP diet. FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols.
It’s a mouthful, but it’s basically the more scientific name for different carbohydrates (sugars) found in foods — specifically fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans and polyols.
IBS sufferers following the low FODMAP diet were also more likely to report a major improvement in their quality of life than those in the control group following a common sense “healthy” diet: 61 percent versus 27 percent.
For more details on following a FODMAP diet, visit this link at IBS Diets.
Fructose content of food — Food Intolerance Diagnostics
Fructose intolerance: Which foods to avoid? — Mayo Clinic
What foods contain high fructose corn syrup? — MedicalNewsToday
Fructose-Restricted Diet — UW Health
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) — Mayo Clinic
Clinical trial demonstrates success of low FODMAP diet — Michigan Medicne