It’s believed that diet plays a role in IBD, but there is limited data on the link between ultra-processed food consumption and IBD, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
To learn more about that association, researchers analyzed data from more than 116,000 adults, ages 35 to 70, living in 21 low-, middle-, and high-income countries. All were taking part in the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, which is examining societal influences on chronic diseases.
Participants were enrolled between 2003 and 2016 and assessed at least every three years. Over an average follow-up of 10 years, 467 participants were diagnosed with IBD (90 with Crohn’s disease and 377 with ulcerative colitis).
After accounting for other factors, the authors concluded that consuming greater amounts of highly processed food was associated with a higher risk of IBD.
Compared to people who had less than one serving of ultra-processed food a day, the risk of IBD was 82% higher among those who consumed five or more servings daily, and 67% higher among those who had one to four servings per day.
Specific types of ultra-processed food were red-flagged. For example, soft drinks, refined sweetened foods, salty snacks, and processed meats were associated with higher risks of IBD.
White meat, red meat, dairy, starch, and fruit, vegetables, and legumes such as peas, beans and lentils were not associated with IBD.
This led the authors to suggest that it might not be the food itself that poses a risk of IBD, but rather the way it is processed.
The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America has more on IBD.
SOURCE: BMJ, news release, July 14, 2021