Can diet alone control IBD without the need for medication?
I have Ulcerative Colitis; diagnosed at 33 yo. I'm on 2g Pentasa maintenance drug and have had no flare-ups for 2 years. However I do still get occasional joint inflammation and dry red eyes due to extra intestinal manifestation (according to my doctor). I heard that some diets, such as a plant-based one can reduce inflammation. I was wondering whether adhering to a strict and specific diet plan will be able to control my IBD, such that I can be taken off all medications?
Thanks for the very interesting question. IBD is certainly a disease that is becoming more common in Singapore and Asia, even though it was once more known to be a disease of the "West".
No specific diet has been shown by studies to prevent, treat, or cure IBD. However, some diet strategies can indeed help you to control symptoms better, especially when you are experiencing flare-ups.
A dietitian can best advice you on a diet plan to meet your nutritional needs, which will be specific to:
- Your age
- Your disease stage
- Your weight
Whether you can be taken off Pentasa or not is a conversation best had with your doctor. It's known to be safe for long term use when supervised by a doctor, as it's been in use since 1987, so there is good data on the long-term effects. Adverse effects from Pentasa are uncommon.
I wouldn't stop taking it if I were you however, since it's been so effective at controlling your flare-ups.
Stop taking your medication and you increase your risk of a flare — and the longer you're off the drug, the higher your risk of suffering a relapse.
There is also no need to avoid foods unless they worsen your symptoms. In fact, I'd prefer that you restrict as few foods as possible so that you are more likely to get a balanced diet.