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Colitis Diet

Posted Dec 04 2009 12:00am

There has been quite a few results of various investigations and surveys undertaken by medical professionals but one really caught my eye and I think that everyone can relate to.

It is about contrasting the Northern European/American diet with that of the Southern European diet. Here is an extract of the investigation’s findings:

“People who eat lots of red meat, cook with certain types of oil, and use some kinds of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA)-heavy margarines may be increasing their risk of a painful inflammatory bowel disease, a study in more than 200,000 Europeans shows.
These foods are high in linoleic acid and the study have found that people who were the heaviest consumers of this omega-6 PUFA were more than twice as likely to develop colitis as those who consumed the least.

Dr. Andrew Hart of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, and his colleagues also found that eating more eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega 3 fatty acid found in fish and fish oils, was associated with a lower risk of the disease.

While people need a certain amount of linoleic acid to survive, Hart noted in an interview with Reuters Health, excess amounts are taken up into the lining of the colon, and if they’re released, they can promote inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acid, he added, does the opposite. “It basically dampens down inflammation,” he explained.

Their analysis included 203,193 men and women 30 to 74 years old. During follow-up, which ranged from about 2 to 11 years, 126 people developed ulcerative colitis.

People in the top quartile of linoleic acid intake (they were consuming around 13 to 38 grams a day) were 2.5 times more likely to have developed the disease than people who consumed the least, about 2 to 8 grams daily.

There’s currently no proven dietary treatment for ulcerative colitis, Hart noted, but the current findings raise the possibility that eating a diet low in linoleic acid could be helpful.

While a Western-style, red-meat-heavy diet is high in this fatty acid and low in omega-3s, Hart noted, a more Mediterranean style eating pattern — with plenty of fruits and vegetables, fish, and nut oils — would be low in linoleic acid and high in omega-3.

He estimated that if omega-3s do help prevent ulcerative colitis, eating a couple of servings of fish a week would probably be protective.”

So what to make of this study?

Well, we know that increasing the consumption of fish is to be incouraged as part of a healthy balanced diet and is particularly good for the heart and blood. Add to that the possibility of it reducing the likelihood of inflammation then introducing some more fish into your weekly diet is something that you should seriously consider.

Take a look at the amount of red meat that you eat. And whilst it does have health benefits, it too can appear detrimental if consumed in higher quantities. Just like a lot of foods really.

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