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Nutritional Therapy for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in children occurs as a result of genetic and environmental factors. IBD is a condition that causes chronic inflammation of the intestines. For reasons that are not yet clearly understood, the child’s immune system becomes abnormally active against his or her own intestines.

The most common symptoms of IBD include diarrhea (often with blood and mucus), abdominal pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, unexplained fevers, fatigue, growth, and pubertal delay.

There are two types of IBD: ulcerative colitis (UC)and Crohn’s disease (CD)Ulcerative colitis affects the lining of the large intestine. Crohn’s disease can involve deeper layers of the small or large intestine. Don’t confuse IBD with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a different and less-severe condition.

Nutritional therapy is now being used as a treatment for IBD. Regular food is replaced by a formula that is nutritionally complete. The formula contains a balance of all the energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins a child needs to gain weight and grow. This is known as Enteral Nutritional Therapy.

Enteral Nutritional Therapy

Enteral Nutritional Therapy (ENT) has been shown to heal the intestines and stop inflammation. It also allows for adequate growth and development, and it does not suppress the immune system like other medications used to treat IBD. ENT has been shown to be just as effective as steroid therapy but without the side effects of steroid therapy.

ENT causes a change in the balance of intestinal bacteria (or microbiome), and this possibly leads to the controlling of inflammation and healing of the intestines. The exact way ENT works is unknown, but two theories are that (1) ENT eliminates possible harmful substances in our regular diet and (2) unidentified substances in the formula may have a direct anti-inflammatory effect on the intestines.

This therapy requires 8–12 weeks to achieve healing of the intestines. The formula can be taken by mouth or through a feeding tube.

ENT is an effective therapy for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. If you would like more information about ENT or gastrointestinal (GI) digestive disorders and nutrition in children, please contact Dr. Mona Dave’s Plano Office or Southlake Office.