A diet high in fats and protein increases the risk of developing ulcerative colitis and Crohn disease, researchers found. Hou and colleagues1 performed a systematic review to evaluate the association between diet and risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Included in the review were 19 studies, which included at total of 2609 patients with IBD (1269 with Crohn's disease and 1340 with ulcerative colitis). All but one of the studies were case-control, and they were conducted in Europe, Japan, Canada, Israel, and the United States.
The studies consistently showed that high dietary intake of total fats, polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, and meat is associated with an increased risk of Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis. In contrast, high fiber and fruit intake decreases the risk of Crohn disease and high vegetable intake reduces the risk of ulcerative colitis.
The investigators theorized that the increasing popularity of a "western" diet throughout the world may be responsible for the rising incidence of IBD.
1. Hou J, Abraham B, El-Serag H. Diet and risk of development of inflammatory bowel disease: a systematic review. Paper presented at: 2010 Advances in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Conference; December 9-12, 2010; Hollywood, Florida.