South Australians with the debilitating inflammatory bowel disease known as ulcerative colitis (UC), may have a successful treatment in the future thanks to a study using diet therapy to treat inflammation underway at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Researchers are looking for 52 volunteers with ulcerative colitis to go on an eight-week diet as part of a study which uses diet therapy to treat what can be a debilitating inflammation.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Gastroenterologist and project co-lead, Dr Robert Bryant said inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis, is usually diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 40 with one in 250 Australians living with IBD.
Current medical therapies are only partially effective and up to 30 per cent of patients eventually need a colectomy,” Dr Bryant said.
The study will identify changes in the lining of the colon and the bacterial colonies that live there, when eating a particular diet.
TQEH senior academic dietitian and project co-lead, Alice Day, said that diet plays an important role in the health of patients with ulcerative colitis with many patients avoiding foods to try and help manage inflammation but there is limited evidence to show what diet is best.
“Our IBD Research Group brings together different health disciplines to research new therapies that will improve both clinical and quality of life outcomes for our patients,” Ms Day said.
“For years patients have told us that diet is important to them and the food they eat affects their inflammation, yet patients have predominantly been told there is no scientific evidence to support this. Patients want non-pharmacological options and our research group is investigating these therapies.
“The diet we are studying has been developed by dietitians and gastroenterologists and the success of an earlier pilot study is in this multidisciplinary research collaboration.
“The therapeutic diet involves particular combinations of fresh whole foods, which can lead to a reduction in inflammation of the bowel and even send the disease into remission.
“The pilot study showed that the diet can be easily implemented at home and is suitable for other household members, which is a great incentive to participants.”
Rachel from Lower Mitcham took part in a 2018 diet trial for ulcerative colitis said that it’s been quite an emotional journey not knowing what was going on with my body for a long period of time before meeting Rob and Alice.
“Taking part in the pilot study had a huge impact on me mentally because it helped me understand my condition and how to manage it.
“Medical and diet therapy has had an enormous impact and I’ve been in remission for a year and a half.
“Now I’m aware of what I eat but it’s not a restrictive diet and I feel like I’m leading a normal lifestyle and can self-manage and maintain my condition thanks to expert guidance and the knowledge I have now.”
The study will run over 10 weeks and includes six appointments at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and for more details on the trial call 8222 8984.
About the study
Participants will be placed on an eight-week diet with some given the therapeutic diet, and others a placebo diet. Both diets are nutritionally balanced fresh, whole food diets.
Conducted over 10 weeks, the trial involves six appointments at TQEH, a diagnostic test known as a sigmoidoscopy at the start and end of the study, and blood, urine and stool sample collection at the start, middle and end of the trial.
Participants will receive a $400 contribution towards their food shopping bills on completion of the study.
Anyone interested can speak to their gastroenterologist or contact the study team directly 08 8222 8984.
This study is funded by The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH) Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Research Group, Basil Hetzel Institute, The Hospital Research Foundation Group and Monash University.