‘Good’ fat diet may reduce bowel disease symptom

New York : A “good” high fat diet may lead to specific changes in gut bacteria that could fight harmful inflammation and reduce symptoms of Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disorder, says a new study.

Crohn’s disease causes debilitating intestinal swelling, cramping and diarrhoea.

In the new study, a diet of plant-derived “good” fats, including coconut oil or cocoa butter, drastically reduced bacterial diversity in mice with Crohn’s-like disease.

Mice fed beneficial fatty diets had up to thirty per cent fewer kinds of gut bacteria as those fed a normal diet, collectively resulting in a very different gut microbial composition.

Some of the species changes showed up in faeces, while others were different in cecum, a portion of the intestine commonly inflamed in Crohn’s disease.

Mice fed even low concentrations of coconut oil or cocoa butter also had less severe small intestine inflammation, according to the findings presented at the annual Digestive Disease Week conference in Chicago.

“The finding is remarkable because it means that a Crohn’s patient could also have a beneficial effect on their gut bacteria and inflammation by only switching the type of fat in their diet,” said first author on the study Alexander Rodriguez-Palacios, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University in in Cleveland, Ohio, US.

“Patients would only need to replace a ‘bad’ fat with a ‘good’ fat, and eat normal amounts,” Rodriguez-Palacios said.

The findings could help doctors identify bacteria to use in probiotics to treat patients suffering from inflammatory bowel syndromes.