The ABCs of IBD

By Shanghai Family 2023-02-23 16:56:04

You’ve probably heard the term IBD talked about, but what exactly is it? Jiahui Health’s Chief of GI Service and the Endoscopy Center gives an overview of the disease.


IBD Explained

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This includes both ulcerative colitis, which occurs in the large intestine, and Crohn’s disease, which can affect any part of the GI tract from mouth to anus. Both cause ulcers in the digestive tract tissue.

The progress of IBD is slow, but the symptoms that reoccur include persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping, bloody stools, anemia, weight loss, and fatigue.

Dr Xia Lu from Jiahui says that the cause of IBD is unclear, but it is associated with an abnormal immune response in the intestine. Environmental and dietary components, such as living in industrialized countries and regions, long-term consumption of highly processed foods, and obesity may increase the risk of contracting the disease.

Additionally, smoking, having an appendectomy, antibiotic abuse, oral contraceptives, lack of vitamin D, and even excessive consumption of soft drinks can increase the risk of developing the disease.




Though many symptoms are shared, IBD should not to be confused with the similarly named irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS does not cause inflammation of the GI tract, and has symptoms of gassiness, mucus in the stool, and the urge to have a bowel movement without being able to have one.

A disturbance between the brain and gut causes IBS symptoms. This occurs when the nerves in the intestines are overactive and sensitive causing irregular muscle contractions of the colon.


Managing IBD

Diet is a big factor in developing chronic inflammation in the gut, and it is also a key factor in managing the disease and decreasing the inflammation. Diet therapy is shown to induce IBD remission, a period with few or no symptoms.

Fruits and vegetables are both rich in dietary fiber and contain vitamins and minerals that help to maintain intestinal structure and function. Though, people with IBD or obvious intestinal narrowing should reduce their intake of insoluble fiber. This includes celery, dried beans, and root vegetables. Instead eat soluble fibers found in apples, carrots and citrus.

Carbohydrates should also be chosen carefully. People who have persistent IBD symptoms are recommended to eat less short-chain carbs that are poorly absorbed by the small intestine. Short-chain carbs are identified with FODMAP, which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.

Carbonated fizzy drinks contain carbon dioxide, which prevents bacteria growth. When a large amount of carbon dioxide is released within the intestinal tract, healthy intestinal microbiota are disrupted and this damages mucus.

By maintaining a healthy diet, the diversity of intestinal flora bacteria can be increased thereby maintaining complete intestinal barrier functioning. Reducing stress and anxiety, standardizing medication, and developing good communication with doctors in a timely manner can prevent the recurrence of the disease, says Dr Lu.



Risk Factors

As time goes on, this chronic condition can lead to more severe health issues like colon cancer. Compared to the general population, people with IBD are more likely to develop colon cancer due to the persistent, long-term inflamed state of the intestine. According to Jiahui Health, about 20 percent of IBD patients develop colorectal cancer within 10 years of the onset of IBD.

Therefore, regular colonoscopy screenings for patients are important for long-term health. The colonoscopy can screen for pre-cancerous lesions and track the disease progression. Domestic and international guidelines recommend that colorectal cancer screenings start 6 to 10 years after the onset of IBD.


Foods to Eat

• fruits

• vegetables

• rice

• seafood

• chicken and eggs 

• yogurt


Foods to Avoid

• red meat

• processed meat

• carbonated drinks (Co2 can kills good gut bacteria)

• caffeine

• alcohol

• short-chain carbs and refined sugars

• insoluble fibers




Chief of GI Service and Chief of Endoscopy Center at Jiahui Health

Prior to joing Jiahui, Dr Lu was Director of the Endoscopy Center and Administrative Director of Internal Medicine at Shanghai International Medical Center.


Jiahui International Hospital

Address: 689 Guiping Road

Tel: 400 868 3000