Fast-mimicking diet could reverse inflammatory bowel disease

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A fast-mimicking diet entails drastic reduction in intake of calories but is not a complete fast

A fast-mimicking diet where only small amounts of food is consumed, appears to reverse Crohn’s disease and colitis pathology in mice.

A special diet could reduce inflammation and repair your gut especially in people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Researchers provided evidence that a low-calorie “fasting-mimicking” diet has the potential to reduce gut inflammation in people with IBD. The study published in the journal Cell Reports, details the health benefits of periodic cycles of the diet for people with inflammation and indicated that the diet reversed inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) pathology in mice.

Results showed that fasting-mimicking diet caused a reduction in intestinal inflammation and an increase in intestinal stem cells in part by promoting the expansion of beneficial gut microbiota.

In the study, one group of mice adhered to a four-day fasting-mimicking diet by consuming approximately 50 percent of their normal caloric intake on the first day and 10 percent of their normal caloric intake from the second through fourth days. Another group fasted with a water-only diet for 48 hours.

“We’ve determined that the dietary components are contributing to the beneficial effects; it’s not just about the cells of the human body but it’s also about the microbes that are affected by both the fasting and the diet”

The study demonstrated that two cycles of a four-day fasting-mimicking diet followed by a normal diet appeared to be enough to mitigate some, and reverse other, IBD-associated pathologies or symptoms. In contrast, water-only fasting came up short, indicating that certain nutrients in the fasting-mimicking diet contribute to the microbial and anti-inflammatory changes necessary to maximize the effects of the fasting regimen.

“We’ve determined that the dietary components are contributing to the beneficial effects; it’s not just about the cells of the human body but it’s also about the microbes that are affected by both the fasting and the diet,” said Valter Longo, a study author and the director of the USC Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. “The ingredients in the diet pushed the microbes to help the fasting maximize the benefits against IBD.”

The authors have showed that in patients with elevated C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation, fasting-mimicking diet cycles are able to reduce CRP and reverse the associated increase in white blood cells. Together with the results in mice, these data indicate that fasting-mimicking diet cycles have the potential to be effective against human IBD, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

IBD afflicts an estimated 1.6 million Americans and is associated with acute and chronic inflammation of the intestine. Study authors are currently finalizing a clinical trial protocol for further research in people with IBD.