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Gluten-Free Living: Gluten, Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis

Gluten-Free Living magazine recently interviewed Kelly Issokson, MS, RD, CNSC, a registered dietician in the Nutrition and Integrative Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) program at Cedars-Sinai, about the connection between gluten, Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

The article cites a recent study that found almost one in five IBD patients tries a gluten-free diet. Of those who decide to eat gluten-free diets, two-thirds report improved symptoms and 38 percent report fewer or less-severe flare-ups between periods of remission. This was the largest study of the gluten-free diet in patients with IBD, including a total of 1,647 participants.

However, Issokson says the benefits of a gluten-free diet might not relate directly to gluten.

“Gluten-containing foods are also a significant source of fructan, a type of FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols), which has been associated with functional gastrointestinal symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome and IBD,” Issokson told Gluten-Free Living.

According to the article, recent analysis by Chinese researchers found IBD patients on a low-FODMAP diet showed significant improvement in multiple symptoms.

“Thus, a short-term, low-FODMAP diet or even a diet with a reduction in fructans may be a better choice and lead to symptom improvement without the need to follow a long-term gluten-free diet,” Issokson told Gluten-Free Living.

Issokson added that whenever a patient is interested in starting a gluten-free diet she recommends first getting tested for celiac disease. “Testing for celiac has many benefits, including helping the patient understand how strict they need to be on a gluten-free diet,” Issokson told Gluten-Free Living

For symptom management, Issokson also stresses the importance of a balanced diet for gut healing and overall health, how certain foods can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms, and about how reducing stress and increasing physical activity can help manage symptoms.

"Restricted diets can decrease quality of life, increase risk for malnutrition and slow the healing process. My goal is to help achieve nutritional balance through the least restrictive diet possible,” Issokson said. 

Click here to read the compliete Gluten-Free Living article.

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Is Eating Gluten-Free a Good Idea?