Improving Crohn's outcomes
University of Otago, Christchurch researchers are investigating how a liquid diet “super formula” can be used to treat sufferers of Crohn's disease.
Professor Andrew Day and his team are examining the potential of a liquid-only diet to ease inflammation and help patients into remission. Common alternative treatments include steroids, which can cause depression, acne and bloating.
“In the last decade the idea of a totally liquid diet for eight weeks has come to the fore as a viable treatment option for those with Crohn's disease, especially in children,” says Day. “The idea is not new, but only recently have researchers looked at how this treatment works and what might constitute the ideal formula.''
Studies have shown almost all patients on a two-month-long liquid diet go into remission and the diet commonly leads to gastrointestinal healing. In many countries, including New Zealand, a liquid diet is included in clinical guidelines for the treatment of young patients. However research on this is sparse.
Day has shown that this treatment switches off inflammation processes in the gut, among other effects. His Christchurch team has been looking specifically at how the formula increases a protein that binds bacteria and stops the bugs getting to the surface of the bowel. Current work also includes varying the amount of time people are on the diet and in combination with periods of food.
Together with work to develop a novel formula with even greater effects, Day believes these studies should greatly improve the management of people with this incurable disease and enhance outcomes.