Study finds low-calorie diet may actually be harmful for those with bowel diseases

Sunday, April 01, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: low-calorie diet, bowel disease, harmful

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(NaturalNews) Dietary protocols that limit calorie consumption could be a cause of decreased immune function in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), according to a recent study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology. Researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) evaluated the effects of implementing a low-calorie diet on mice with IBD and found that, compared to mice on regular or high-calorie diets, the low-calorie group fared worse in overall immune function and mortality rates.

It is widely believed that high-calorie diets result in obesity, and that obesity lowers immune function and makes the body more prone to disease. While this may be partly true, at least for some people, the findings in the MSU study appear to contradict this theory. Not only did moderate obesity not appear to play a significant role in susceptibility to colitis and other IBDs in the study, but not getting enough calories was found to actually be a detriment to overall immune function.

For their research, Jenifer Fenton, an assistant professor at the MSU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and her colleagues divided mice with IBD into three groups. The first group received a high-fat diet, while the second and third groups received either a 30 percent calorie-restricted diet or an average-calorie diet. Each group was treated with a bacteria known as H. hepaticus, which infects the colon and causes inflammation, and eventually causes tumors to develop.

At the conclusion of the study, the low-calorie group was found to be more likely than the other groups to become fatally infected with H. hepaticus. Many of the mice in the low-calorie group died before tumors even began to develop as a result of H. hepaticus infection, while the regular- and high-calorie groups were not as severely infected.

"The results are similar to the research from our department that shows consuming fewer calories makes it harder to fight off the flu virus," said Fenton. "Since this is a totally different pathogen, it amplifies the need to find out why caloric intake has such an impact on the body's ability to respond to infection."

Low-calorie diets can also increase the likelihood of candida yeast overgrowth, or make symptoms worse in people that already have candida problems. Since the majority of immune function is based in the gut, and low-calorie diets appear to disrupt gut function and immunity, it is logically conclusive that low-calorie diets can spur or exacerbate candida symptoms.

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