Diet and Nutrition Q&A by Betty Kovacs
Because ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease affect the digestive tract many people believe that their diet has something to do with causing them. While the actual cause of these two diseases remains unknown, there has been some research that has shown an association between specific dietary habits and UC and Crohn's disease. These studies are done retrospectively (looking back) by examining the food records of people before being diagnosed with UC or Crohn's and comparing them with people who do not have either disease. The limitation to this is that there is a great deal of inaccuracy when people self-report their dietary intake, and when studies are done retrospectively, you can't say for sure that the specific food causes the disease. There could be factors outside of their diet that are the actual cause but were not part of the study. The only way to know for sure would be to perform studies where the only difference between the people with and without the disease is the specific food being studied.
Until more comprehensive research is done, it may be beneficial to know what the retrospective studies have shown:
Ulcerative colitis (UC):
Crohn's disease (CD):
The consistent trend throughout each of the studies follows the advice found in the dietary guidelines for all healthy Americans. The best diet to follow is one that is balanced with foods from each of the food groups and limited in sugar and fat.
Thank you for your question.
Last Editorial Review: 1/3/2007