Vegan diet and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

A vegan diet consists of eating only plants or foods made from plants. If you follow a vegan diet you cannot eat any foods which come from animals - this includes eggs and dairy products.

Following a vegan diet

When following a vegan diet it is important that you ensure you replace any protein, amino acids, fatty acids (omega 3) and vitamins and minerals (such as calcium, iron and B12) people would normally get from eating meat, fish and animal products.

Vegan diet and IBD

There are no specific studies which have directly shown that following a vegan diet reduces symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Anecdotally there are people with IBD who follow a vegan diet and report it helping to improve the symptoms of their ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

There are a number of people with IBD who report dairy (or lactose) as a ‘trigger’ which can cause their IBD symptoms to worsen. This may be due to a secondary lactase deficiency which can occur in people with IBD. In a vegan diet dairy is avoided as it is an animal product.

There have been various studies carried out into the correlation between the amount of meat eaten and the risk of developing IBD. A meta analysis of the studies1 was carried out in 2015 and concluded: "Meat consumption may increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease. Additional large prospective studies are warranted to verify this association".

References

  1. Ge J, Han TJ, Liu J, Li JS, Zhang XH, Wang Y, Li QY, Zhu Q, Yang CM. Meat intake and risk of inflammatory bowel disease: A meta-analysis. Gastroenterol. 2015 Nov;26(6):492-7. doi: 10.5152/tjg.2015.0106. PubMed PMID: 26575042.

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