Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a debilitating, and so far, incurable disease of the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, pain where the disease is active or scarring/abscesses have occurred due to active disease, vomiting, bloody stools, stomach cramps, fever, joint pain, fatigue, diarrhoea and/or constipation. Many sufferers consider this to be an extremely life limiting disease, and the medication options currently available are vast, but results differ from person to person. Some may achieve remission and stay there for long periods of time, whilst for others, the struggle is long and relentless.
Current evidence suggests that a combination of genetics, external influencers and gut microbiota all contribute to the disease. Studies have shown that disease improvement, following treatment with Exclusive Enteral Nutrition (EEN), coincided with changes in the gut microbiota. CD-Treat is a food-based diet which induces similar effects on gut microbial metabolites with EEN, which was confirmed in preliminary studies.
Cure Crohn's Colitis is dedicated to funding medical research, aiming to advance treatments for IBD and ultimately find a cure. The charity is run solely by volunteers, ensuring that 100% of donations are invested into research. CD-Treat seemed a worthy project to invest in as it has the potential to greatly improve the quality of life for Crohn's patients.
CD-Treat Lead researcher Vaios Svolos, a PhD student in Human Nutrition at Glasgow University, who also has Crohn's disease himself said: "We are looking closely into the role of diet and gut bacteria in Crohn's disease." A trial of 25 healthy people using the diet was successful in changing the gut germs in the same way that the liquid diet did.
A 12-week pilot trial of the diet on 20 Crohn's Disease patients (10 children and 10 adults) began last month. The diet consists of ready made cooked meals, which participants must strictly adhere to. They will also receive home visits from Vaios as well as having access to support lines. Monitoring will take place at four, eight and 12 weeks. Vaios said, "I can say the diet tastes quite nice. It's pretty good!" It is hoped that the carefully selected solid food diet will mimic the results of a restrictive liquid diet such as modulen.
Lauren Stewart, a member of #IBDSuperHeroes Facebook group, gave some insight into what life on a liquid diet is like: "It made me feel very alone. I couldn't even sit with my family when they ate as it was so hard being around food, and I didn't want to go out as all I could drink was water or black tea. I became very upset and angry, scared to break the enteral diet because it could make me ill, but feeling increasingly frustrated that I couldn't socialise."
For people like Lauren, the diet could alleviate those feelings of isolation. Suffering from IBD can be stressful, the unpredictability of the disease itself, and not being unable to control how you respond to treatments can make sufferers feel powerless. Being able to enjoy family time around the dinner table really could make a difference, and have a positive impact on patient's mental health.
Lauren added: "I missed a lot of birthday meals and family gatherings because they predominantly involved restaurants and I didn't want to be in that environment."
Many restaurants cater for specific dietary requirements, and rather than lose a reservation, will likely agree to heat up a meal which you have brought in yourself.
Those being treated with EEN may need it to be administered via a nasal gastric (NG) tube. This delivers the formula straight to the stomach and may be necessary due to fairly common issues such 'formula fatigue', which means individuals get so bored of drinking the same formula each day for 8 to 12 weeks, that they just can't physically make themselves drink it. As you may be able to imagine, this can also cause isolation in patients who are not comfortable being out in public with an NG tube. CD-Treat would also eliminate this issue.
The CD-Treat diet could potentially give people, that would usually only have a liquid diet as an option, the chance to take back some control over their lives and activities, and provide them with the opportunity to participate in social gatherings.
#IBDSuperHeroes chose to support Cure Crohn’s Colitis because 100% of your donations go to patient centric research, aiming to improve IBD patient’s quality of life and ultimately find a cure for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. If you’d like to make a donation, allowing future investment into vital studies like this one, visit the donate page.
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