Touching Lives - September 2015
How diet affects inflammatory bowel conditions
Children with Crohn s disease or ulcerative colitis suffer debilitating symptoms, including diarrhoea, tummy pain and tiredness. New research is investigating how different foods affect these chronic conditions.
Around one in four people diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis are children or teenagers. As well as the discomfort caused by their painful symptoms, these young people also face the embarrassment and stigma associated with having to go to the toilet a lot.
Children may miss school and be unable to take part in activities they enjoy. Some lose their appetites completely, which can affect their growth.
The symptoms are caused by inflammation within the gut but why this happens remains unknown.
There are medicines that can help but these can have significant side effects. The most severely affected children eventually need bowel surgery.
Action Research Training fellow Dr Harween Dogra, based in London, hopes to find better ways to control Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis through diet.
“I aim to improve understanding of the disease processes involved by studying how the immune system in the gut responds to nutrients in food,” she explains.
This could lead to the development of new nutritional treatments that are safer than existing medicines, with fewer side effects.