Saturated Fats in Diet May Trigger Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) was once considered a rare immune system disorder, but now it has become more common in the US and other Western nations. Although many people may be genetically predisposed to the disorder, not all people affected will manifest symptoms. However, doctors are now seeing more cases, and this may be explained by factors affecting its manifestation, specifically the diet.
IBD is a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine characterized by abdominal pain, severe internal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, muscle spasms in the pelvis, and weight loss. The major types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
The University of Chicago researchers investigated how environmental factors can trigger manifestation of the disorder in mice possessing characteristics of human inflammatory bowel disease. When the mice were fed with concentrated milk fats containing saturated fats, the composition of the microbes in their intestines was changed. This can affect the balance between the immune function and the environment in the intestines. According to their study, harmful bacteria in the intestines can trigger an uncontrollable immune-system response that can be damaging difficult to regulate.
On the other hand, feeding the laboratory mice with polyunsaturated fats did not trigger the same response. Unlike concentrated milk fats, polyunsaturated fats from plant sources did not affect the bacterial composition in the intestines.
Concentrated milk fats are very much part of a Western diet, where they are used widely in processed foods and confectionary products. This can explain why genetically predisposed people are at greater risk of developing the manifestations of the condition and why it is increasingly seen in the population.
Preidt, R. Mouse Study Suggests Certain Fats Could Trigger Crohn’s, Colitis. MSN.