Eating Your Way Out of IBD

Fresh tasty vegetables and vintage chopping board on a rustic wooden worktop, cooking and vegetarian recipes concept

You don’t need to look very far to find an article, blog post, or website telling you about the latest medical breakthrough, revolution, game-changing new information, or product. Reports like this are everywhere and rarely are they anything more than “clickbait.” But every now and then, a study gets conducted that does indeed have game changing potential. This article will discuss one such study, published recently in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.

There are a few diseases that stand out as examples of the difference between the naturopathic and conventional approach to treatment. The treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease is a case in point. Conventional medicine has always taught patients that diet had nothing to do with the development of their disease, and changing their diet will have no effect on their symptoms or prognosis.

Countless IBD patients have heard their doctor say something like: “You did not eat your way into this disease, and you’re not going to eat your way out of it.” For decades, physicians have given this advice to their patients and then gone on to suggest that medications and/or surgery are the only reliable treatments. This advice is often met with great frustration by patients, many of whom are convinced that what they eat does matter. They tell me that they know that what they eat affects the way they feel, and I’m inclined to believe them.

New research on diet and IBD conducted at Seattle Children’s Hospital provides some new evidence that the conventional wisdom may not be that wise after all. In a study performed on children with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, Dr. David Suskind, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, found that a diet known as the “SCD” {specific carbohydrate diet) could induce remission on it’s own without any medication. The study was small but mighty… and it completely turns the old “diet doesn’t matter” wisdom on its head.

For his study, Dr. Suskind placed 10 children, all of whom were diagnosed with either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, on an SCD diet for 12 weeks. This diet focuses on natural, nutritious foods, and eliminates grains, dairy, processed foods, and refined sugar. After 12 weeks, eight of the ten children were in remission. That’s an 80 percent success rate… using dietary changes alone. This is music to the ears of anyone who practices natural medicine… and anyone who has endured the suffering of IBD.

On these exciting results, Dr. Suskind stated:

“For decades or longer, medicine has said diet doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t impact disease. Now we know that diet does have an impact, a strong impact. It works, and now there’s evidence.”

This study is extremely important, because even though it was small, it presents paradigm-shifting information. It also validates the experience of patients and naturopathic physicians who have always known that diet does make a difference in IBD. This is remarkable news, and it paves the way for larger studies on how diet can impact IBD, so that more and more people can find relief, and achieve remission, the natural way.

If you or someone you love has IBD, it’s highly worth your time to learn more about the SCD diet. In her book Breaking the Vicious Cycle, Elaine Gottschall describes this diet in detail, including what should be included, and what should be eliminated. You can find much of this information on the Breaking the Vicious Cycle website here.

When it comes to IBD, (and countless other conditions too) don’t let anyone tell you that diet doesn’t matter… it very clearly does!

– Dr. Joshua Levitt