Harvard study links inflammatory diet to Crohn’s disease

News briefs

Published: September, 2020

Eating a diet high in foods tied to inflammation — such as processed meat, sweets, and refined grains — is associated with many health problems, including an increased risk for colon cancer, heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. A Harvard study published online May 7, 2020, by Gastroenterology found another potential risk: Crohn's disease, a condition characterized by areas of inflammation throughout the large and small intestines. Researchers evaluated 30 years' worth of self-reported diet information from more than 208,000 men and women. Diets were scored based on foods that promote inflammation. Compared with people who had the lowest inflammatory diet scores, people with the highest scores had a 51% higher risk for developing Crohn's disease. The risk for Crohn's doubled among people who went from a low- to a high-inflammatory diet during the study. The study is observational and doesn't prove that an inflammatory diet causes Crohn's disease. But with so many other risks associated with foods that promote inflammation, it's important to eat as many foods that fight inflammation as possible. In other words, focus on whole, unprocessed foods with no added sugar — such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes (beans, lentils), fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, a little bit of low-fat dairy, and olive oil.

Image: © dla4/Getty Images

Disclaimer:
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.