CALGARY – Dr. Bertus Eksteen says it’s one of the first questions patients ask him after learning they have an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis.
“Can we just change our diet? If it’s a bowel problem, can we just change our diet and see if that makes a difference in disease.”
The University of Calgary researcher says until now, doctors have had few answers to offer their patients. While some people report feeling better after following a low sugar, gluten-free or dairy-free diet, there is little scientific evidence to support whether these dietary changes really help.
“There’s been instance where changing a diet has helped, and we honestly don’t understand that.”
Thanks to a new federal research grant, Eksteen’s team at the U of C’s Snyder Institute for Chronic Disease will work with researchers at McMaster University to see how diet and gut bacteria impact IBD and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
“This grant will involve all of Canada and will look at patients with disease to see what a healthy microbiome look like, what does an ill one look like and how can we change that with diet.”
The five year project is expected to involve 2,000 patients in Calgary as well as patients from across the country. All participants will be recruited through their gastroentrology clinic.