Medicine & Pharmacology, Allergology; diet, gut microbiota, epigenetics, inflammatory bowel diseases
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) represent a growing public health concern due to increasing incidence worldwide. The current notion on the pathogenesis of IBD is that genetically susceptible individuals develop intolerance to dysregulated gut microflora (dysbiosis) and chronic inflammation develops as a result of environmental triggers. Among the environmental factors associated to IBD, diet plays an important role in modulating the gut microbiome, influencing epigenetic changes and, therefore, could be applied as a therapeutic tool to improve the disease course. Nevertheless, the current dietary recommendations for disease prevention and management are scarce and of weak evidence. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the complex interactions among diet, microbiome and epigenetics in IBD. Whereas over-abundance of calories and some macronutrients increases gut inflammation, several micronutrients have the potential to modulate it. Immunonutrition has emerged as a new concept putting forward the importance of vitamins such as vitamins A, C, E, D, folic acid and beta-carotene and trace elements such as zinc, selenium, manganese and iron. However, when assessed in clinical trials, specific micronutrients exerted a limited benefit. Beyond nutrients, anti-inflammatory dietary patterns as a complex intervention approach have become popular over the recent years. Hence, exclusive enteral nutrition in pediatric Crohn’s disease is the only nutritional intervention currently recommended as a first-line therapy. Other nutritional interventions or specific diets including the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, the low fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyol diet and most recently the Mediterranean diet have shown strong anti-inflammatory properties and provide a promise for improving disease symptoms. Definitely, more work is required to evaluate the role of individual food compounds and complex nutritional interventions with potential to decrease inflammation as means for prevention and management of IBD.