People who have Crohn's disease often seek to ease their symptoms by changing what they eat, and new research suggests the Mediterranean diet may be their best bet.
The study evaluated one of the commonly used diets for Crohn's disease, known as the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD), comparing it with the Mediterranean diet, which is sometimes recommended by doctors for its heart health benefits, but not for inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's.
The scientists found that both diets reduced symptoms almost equally, but the study concluded that the greater ease of following the Mediterranean diet might make it one that patients would prefer to follow.
Crohn's disease involves the immune system and is characterized by abdominal symptoms, such as pain and diarrhea, and chronic inflammation, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Together with ulcerative colitis (another inflammatory bowel disease), it affects about 3 million people in the United States.
The SCD includes unprocessed meats, fresh fruits and non-starchy vegetables. It restricts certain legumes, all grains, certain sweeteners, canned fruits and vegetables, and certain dairy products. The Mediterranean diet is low in red and processed meats and features fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish, lean meats, whole grains, small amounts of dairy and uses olive oil as its primary source of fat.