Prevention of ulcerative colitis by diet
What is behind the significant increase in the incidence of inflammatory bowel disease, the so-called Crohn’s disease, in emerging societies, countries where the disease was virtually unknown 100 years ago? What really changed in our inner and outer environment and led to the emergence of this terrible disease?
Japan has seen one of the most significant increases in this disease. Of all dietary changes, the amount of animal protein appears to be the strongest factor. The rapid increase in newly diagnosed Crohn’s disease patients is related to the daily intake of animal protein. Conversely, greater plant protein consumption means fewer cases of Crohn’s disease. This is in line with our information that a greater proportion of plant foods can be beneficial in preventing and treating Crohn’s disease. But how is inflammatory bowel disease in general?
The largest study of its kind, watching over 60,000 people for over 10 years, found that the high total protein intake, specifically animal protein, was associated with a significantly increased risk of another major inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis. These were not proteins in general; the link between high protein intake and the risk of inflammatory bowel disease was limited to the intake of animal protein.
Since the Second World War, animal protein intake has increased not only in Japan but also in all developed countries. This increase in animal protein consumption may partly explain the increase in inflammatory bowel disease in the second half of the 20th century. And not just this study, most other studies have found the same finding, but why? What is the difference between animal protein and plant protein?
For example, that animal proteins have more sulfur-containing amino acids, such as methionine. These amino acids can turn bacteria in the intestine into toxic gas smelling of spoiled eggs, hydrogen sulfide. Evidence suggests that sulfur-containing compounds may play a role in the development of ulcerative colitis. It is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease affecting the large intestine and rectum. His typical expression is bloody diarrhea.
The first reference to the general importance of our intestinal flora dates back to the 1970s, when scientists found in the analysis of stool that most of its volume was made up of bacteria, not undigested material. Most of the weight of our stools is the bacteria themselves. We eliminate billions of bacteria daily from the body. Bacteria are still growing. But they do great things for us. For example, consumed fiber forms a protective compound called butyrate. However, it depends on what we feed them. Bacteria can also produce toxic compounds from food, such as hydrogen sulfide. It is created when we eat a meat-rich diet. Hydrogen sulfide is a poison that is produced by bacterial activity, a poison that is involved in ulcerative colitis.
All the time, we assumed that the formation of sulfides in the colon is driven by certain dietary components, such as sulfur-containing amino acids, but we were not sure until this study was conducted. Researchers have given people one of five different diets. The diets varied in meat content, from the vegetarian diet to the amount of one steak a day. And the more meat, the more sulfide; 10 times more meat meant 10 times more sulfide. Scientists have concluded that meat proteins are the breeding ground for the formation of sulfides by bacteria in the human colon. Hydrogen sulfide can then act as a free radical and damage our DNA at concentrations much lower than that of our poor intestine lining.
This can help us explain why a diet with a higher proportion of meat and a lack of fiber leads to the creation of so-called “faecal water”, causing about twice as much damage. Faecal water is created when scientists prepare “one tea from someone’s stool.” Sulfur biology in the human intestine has recently escaped serious attention. Previously, it was thought of as a mere source of bad smell of spoiled eggs in intestinal gases. The increased sulfur compound after the addition of animal proteins is not only interesting for the field of flatology, ie the study of wind and flatulence; It can also play an important role in the development of ulcerative colitis.