The role of diet in the prevention and treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

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Rosa Reddavide
Ornella Rotolo
Maria Gabriella Caruso
Elisa Stasi
Maria Notarnicola
Chiara Miraglia
Antonio Nouvenne
Tiziana Meschi
Gian Luigi de' Angelis
Francesco Di Mario
Gioacchino Leandro


mediterranean diet, IBD, Crohn Disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammation, nutrition, gut inflammation, micronutrients


Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) – Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) – are chronic conditions characterised by relapsing inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. They represent an increasing public health concern and an aetiological enigma due to unknown causal factors. The current knowledge on the pathogenesis of IBD is that genetically susceptible individuals develop intolerance to a dysregulated gut microflora (dysbiosis) and chronic inflammation develops as a result of environmental triggers. Among the environmental factors associated with IBD, diet plays an important role in modulating the gut microbiome, and, consequently, it could have a therapeutic impact on the disease course. An overabundance of calories and some macronutrients typical of the Western dietetic pattern increase gut inflammation, whereas several micronutrients characteristic of the Mediterranean Diet have the potential to modulate gut inflammation, according to recent evidence. Immunonutrition has emerged as a new concept putting forward the role of vitamins such as vitamins A, C, E, and D, folic acid, beta carotene and trace elements such as zinc, selenium, manganese and iron. However, when assessed in clinical trials, specific micronutrients showed a limited benefit. Further research is required to evaluate the role of individual food compounds and complex nutritional interventions with the potential to decrease inflammation as a means of prevention and management of IBD. The current dietary recommendations for disease prevention and management are scarce and non evidence-based. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the complex interaction between diet, microbiome and immune-modulation in IBD, with particular focus to the role of the Mediterranean Diet as a tool for prevention and treatment of the disease.


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