Breakthrough: Fasting-like diets can cure chronic inflammation of the intestine

Does a special diet help against chronic inflammatory bowel diseases?

Doctors found that a special form of nutrition can reduce inflammation in the intestine and even repair existing damage in the intestine. A low-calorie diet that mimics fasting has the potential to heal our gut.

Scientists at the University of Southern California found in their current study that a special, fasting-like diet contributes to the reduction of inflammation in the intestine and even helps to regenerate the intestine. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Cell Reports".

Reduction of bowel inflammation achieved

In their study, the researchers report on the health benefits of periodic diet cycles for people with inflammation. This form of diet reversed the pathology of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in mice. A fasting-mimicking diet caused a decrease in intestinal inflammation and an increase in intestinal stem cells, in part by promoting the expansion of the intestinal flora, the experts explain.

A healthy diet has a big impact on the gut

The reversal of IBD pathology in mice, along with its anti-inflammatory effects demonstrated in a human clinical trial, suggests that the treatment has the potential to mitigate chronic inflammatory bowel disease. In general, people should pay attention to what they eat every day. Many studies indicate the benefits of a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, nuts and olive oil. Fasting also has a major impact on our gut health, through its effects on inflammation and regeneration.

People on an unhealthy diet should regularly eat a low-calorie, plant-based diet that acts on the cells as if the body is fasting. Previous clinical trials conducted by the researchers allowed participants to consume between 750 and 1,100 calories a day over a five-day period. The diet contained specific proportions of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. The subjects showed reduced risk factors for many life-threatening diseases.

Wrong fasting can be dangerous

Fasting is very difficult for many people and can even be dangerous. A diet that mimics fasting is safer and easier. In the study, a group of mice followed a four-day diet that mimicked fasting. The animals received about 50 percent of their normal calorie intake on the first day and ten percent of their normal calorie intake on the second to fourth day. Another group fasted only with water for 48 hours. Two cycles of the four-day diet followed by a normal diet appear to be sufficient to alleviate and reverse some IBD-associated pathologies or symptoms, the experts explain in a press release.

Fasting Mimicking Diet Cycles Against Crohn's Disease?

The doctors have found that the dietary components contribute to the positive effects. It's not just about the cells of the human body, but also about the microbes that are affected by both fasting and diet, the scientists report. The components of the diet urge the microbes to support fasting and maximize the benefits against IBD. The research team observed the activation of stem cells and a regeneration effort in the large intestine and small intestine, which only increased significantly in length in the presence of several fasting cycles of the fasting diet. They concluded that fasting encourages the body to rebuild cells and tissues.

Recent and previous research has shown that in patients with elevated C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation, fasting-mimicking diet cycles can reduce the C-reactive protein and reverse the associated increase in white blood cells. Together with the results in mice, these data indicate that fasting-like diet cycles have the potential to act against human IBD, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. (as)

Author and source information

Video: Post-prandial inflammation and fasting as an anti-inflammatory. Charles Raison (January 2022).