Maintaining a healthy lifestyle could prevent inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): study

I stretch before and after a workout.If you’re looking for ways to reduce your risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a good place to start. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and managing your stress levels can help keep your immune system working at its best. If you already have IBD, making these positive lifestyle changes can help you stay symptom-free and manage your condition.

A new international study published online in the journal Gut suggests that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can prevent up to 60% of cases of inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the intestines. It includes two main diseases: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which can cause severe digestive problems, abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition. The exact cause of inflammatory bowel disease is unknown, but it has been linked to genetic and environmental factors such as smoking, antibiotics, and diet.

The study included 121,700 nurses (ages 30-55) from 11 US states in the 1976 Nurses’ Health Study (NHS). The NHSII study also included 116,429 nurses (ages 25-42) in 1989 from 15 US states, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) included 51,529 physicians (40 to 75 years) from across the US in 1986 .

The researchers created modifiable risk scores for all participants based on IBD risk factors to estimate the proportion of IBD cases that could have been prevented. Risk factors included weight, smoking, physical activity, and use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Diet was also considered and the intake of fruits, fiber, vegetables, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and red meat were included in the risk factors.

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During the follow-up period, 346 cases of Crohn’s disease and 456 cases of ulcerative colitis were reported. However, based on the findings, the researchers concluded that maintaining a healthy lifestyle could have prevented 61% of
cases of Crohn’s disease and 42% of cases of ulcerative colitis.

The researchers concluded the study by saying, “Lifestyle modification may be an attractive target for future IBD prevention strategies,” they add. “This may be of particular relevance to high-risk groups, such as first-degree relatives of IBD patients, who have an estimated 2% to 17% lifetime risk of developing the disease.”

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