Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle May Prevent Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Study

I stretch before and after a workoutIf you’re looking for ways to reduce your risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a good place to start. Eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and managing your stress levels can all help keep your immune system functioning at its best. If you already have IBD, making these positive lifestyle changes can help you stay symptom-free and manage your condition.

A new international study published online in the journal Gut suggests that maintaining a healthy lifestyle may prevent up to 60% of inflammatory bowel disease cases, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.


Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the intestines. It includes two major diseases – ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which can cause serious digestion problems, abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition. The exact cause of inflammatory bowel disease is unknown, but it has been linked to genetic and environmental factors such as smoking, antibiotics, and diet.

The study included 121,700 female nurses (aged 30-55) from 11 U.S. states in 1976 from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS). From the NHSII study, 116,429 female nurses (aged 25-42) in 1989 from 15 U.S. states were also included, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) included 51,529 male doctors (40-75) from across the U.S. in 1986.

Researchers created modifiable risk scores for all participants based on risk factors for IBD to estimate the proportion of IBD cases that could have been avoided. The risk factors included weight, smoking, physical activity, and the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Diet was also considered, and intake of fruit, fiber, vegetables, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and red meat was included in risk factors.

During the monitoring period, 346 cases of Crohn’s disease and 456 cases of ulcerative colitis were reported. However, based on the findings, researchers concluded that maintaining a healthy lifestyle could have prevented 61% of
Crohn’s disease cases and 42% of ulcerative colitis cases.

Researchers concluded the study by saying, “Lifestyle modification may be an attractive target for future prevention strategies in IBD,” they add. “This may be of particular relevance to high-risk groups, such as first-degree relatives of IBD patients, who have an estimated 2%-17% risk of developing the disease over their lifetime.”

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Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.