Individuals who adhere to a Mediterranean diet are at lower risk for developing Crohn’s disease later in life, according to study results.
“Since we believe that environment likely plays a larger role in development of older-onset inflammatory bowel disease, identifying these modifiable risk factors are important,” Hamed Khalili, MD, of the division of gastroenterology at Massachusetts General Hospital, told Healio Gastroenterology and Liver Disease.
Researchers used data from two Swedish cohorts to determine if a diet such as the Mediterranean diet – which is high in fruits, vegetables and proteins from fish – has a relationship with risk for later-onset IBD, including CD and ulcerative colitis.
Individuals from the Cohort of Swedish Men and Swedish Mammography Cohort (n = 83,147; age range 45–79 years) completed a validated food questionnaire to calculate an adherence score to a modified Mediterranean diet (mMED) at baseline in 1997. Investigators identified cases of IBD through 2017 using the Swedish Patient Register.
After an average follow-up of 17 years, Khalili and colleagues identified 164 incident cases of CD and 395 cases of UC. Higher mMED scores — an indication of better adherence to the Mediterranean diet — was associated with a lower risk for CD (P for trend = .03) but not UC (P for trend = .61).
More than 27% of individuals in the Swedish cohort had an mMED score between 0 and 2, signaling poor adherence to the diet. Khalili said this presents a significant opportunity to reduce risk for older-onset CD.
“We leveraged two large prospective cohorts of men and women in Sweden to demonstrate that adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a significant reduction in risk of Crohn’s disease but not ulcerative colitis,” Khalili said. “We also estimated that nearly 12% of cases of older-onset Crohn’s disease in our cohorts could have been prevented by adhering to a Mediterranean diet” – by Alex Young
Disclosure: Khalili reports receiving consulting fees from AbbVie and grant support from Pfizer and Takeda. Please see the full study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.