Eating junk food aggravates inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a new study finds.
Foods like cookies, sports and energy drinks, French fries, cheese, soda, and processed fruit juice are linked to IBD.
It appears that the foods themselves don’t trigger the disease but their processing.
For example, frying makes food harder to digest and destroys many nutrients vital for health.
More than three million U.S. adults are affected by IBD, a general term referring to lingering conditions that cause inflammation of the digestive tract.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two main types of inflammatory bowel disease.
Stomach bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhea and blood in stools are common symptoms of IBD.
Researchers analysed 26 foods to find out whether any of these foods would have an impact on patients with IBD.
Previous studies suggest that frequent consumption of fast foods such as processed meat and pizza increase the risk of developing IBD.
The study found that a high number of people with IBD drink less 100 percent fruit juice and eat more French fries, cookies, and cheese compared to healthy people.
Regular consumption of soda, energy drinks, sports beverages, and French fries was significantly associated with being diagnosed with IBD.
Contrary to common belief, milk or popcorn intake didn’t increase the chance of having IBD.
Dr Moon Han, the study’s first author, said:
“While foods typically labelled as junk food were positively associated with inflammatory bowel disease, we found the eating patterns of people with and without this disease to be very similar.
However, it’s unclear whether the survey results reflect a potential change in the food intake of people with inflammatory bowel disease long before the survey was conducted.”
Besides food intake, other factors such as bioactive compounds in foods, environmental changes, and food processing can all cause inflammation of the digestive tract and increase the likelihood of IBD.
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in PLOS ONE (Han et al., 2020).