Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Processed Foods and Additives May Increase Your Risk

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a term that encompasses two conditions: Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.  If you have either of these, then you know how miserable they can make day to day life. If you’re looking for ways to either ease your symptoms or avoid these diseases all together, dietary habits are an important place to start.

What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD, is characterized by chronic inflammation in the digestive system which lead to one or both of the following conditions:

  • Ulcerative Colitis. Chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract causes lasting ulcers, or sores, in the lining of the large intestine and rectum.
  • Crohn’s Disease. Chronic inflammation anywhere from the mouth to the anus, most often in the small intestine and colon, which causes damage/sores through multiple layers of the walls of the GI tract.

Symptoms of IBD include but are not limited to:

  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Fever and fatigue
  • Abdominal pain/cramping
  • Blood in your stool
  • Reduced appetite
  • Unintended weight loss

In severe cases, IBD can make it nearly impossible to travel or go far from home because symptoms become so uncomfortable and unpredictable.

Processed Foods, Additives And Preservatives May Aggravate IBD

If you read much about health and wellness, then you know how important the gut is for overall health and vitality. 80% of your immune system is housed in your gut! (1) The bacteria in your digestive tract, your microbiome, help with hundreds of different processes in your body, including: digesting food, thinking clearly, maintaining a healthy weight, fighting off pathogens and bugs, improving your mood, increasing energy, and more!

Anything that impacts your microbiome negatively can have major consequences on your well being.


Studies have found that common food additives, particularly emulsifiers, promote colitis and metabolic syndrome by altering the gut’s microbes. These results were present after only 12 weeks of emulsifiers being added to the diet. (2)

Many processed foods contain added trans fats and processed vegetable oils which can stimulate the inflammatory process in your digestive tract as well as increase risk of heart and artery disease. (5)

Artificial Sweeteners

In a study by the Department of Environmental Health Science in Georgia, researchers found that the most widely used artificial sweetener, Sucralose, altered the dynamics of the gut microbiome in participants. It also induced elevated pro-inflammatory gene expression in the digestive tract and liver (3)


Research published in Nature found that artificial preservatives increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease. (4)

The Crohn’s Colitis Foundation recommends avoiding foods with artificial colors, sugar alcohols and preservatives as these aggravate symptoms of IBD in many patients.

Partha’s Prescriptions for IBD

  1. Fill your diet with plenty of organic leafy greens, vegetables and fruits. If raw fiber-filled foods are too difficult for your system, cook them before consuming. Use these to replaced processed foods and fast foods.
  2. Consume equal amounts of the following: clean protein, healthy fats and low-glycemic carbohydrates from fruits and veggies.
  3. Limit or eliminate dairy and gluten if you have symptoms with these foods.
  4. Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day versus 2-3 large meals.


With conditions like IBD I strongly suggest you work with a trusted doctor or medical professional. Left untreated, IBD can have seriously life-altering complications. I have great sympathy for my patients who are suffering from IBD and have had a lot of success in easing their symptoms.

With your commitment as a #healthhero, a good doctor can help you live the best life possible.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515351/
  2. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/food-additives-alter-gut-microbes-cause-diseases-mice
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5522834/
  4. https://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/515175a
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955571/

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