Treating inflammatory bowel disease

Diet therapy offers new hope in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease

Dr Gina Trakman’s research on the role of diet in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease offers hope to over 60,000 Australians impacted by the debilitating condition.

“Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic condition where inflammation in the gut leads to symptoms – such as diarrhea, stomach pain and fatigue – that can cause significant impairment and impact quality of life,” says Dr Trakman.

“The exact cause of inflammatory bowel disease is unknown but is likely caused by an atypical immune response to the bacteria that live in our gut, and it’s a common condition in Australia.”

Pharmacotherapy is the current first-line treatment for inflammatory bowel disease but is costly, comes with side effects and its effectiveness can diminish over time.

“Previous research has indicated that diet therapies can be effective for treating inflammatory bowel disease, however, the mechanisms underpinning them are yet to be fully understood,” says Dr Trakman.

“My research seeks to address this gap to identify well-tolerated, nutritionally adequate dietary therapies that can be safely used alongside or instead of medication.”

Dr Trakman contributed to a research project, led by Professor Michael Kamm, that saw the development and implementation of the DELECTABLE program, a dietary program designed to assess and enhance diet satisfaction in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

“The DELECTABLE program offered patients with inflammatory bowel disease greater access to more varied dietary therapies that could be personalised to lifestyle needs and delivered alongside routine clinical care.”

“The results of the program demonstrated that patients were satisfied, complied with their personalised diet, and achieved a reduction in disease activity.”

“These are exciting findings and we hope that the DELECTABLE program can contribute to the broader adoption and acceptance of diet as an inflammatory bowel disease treatment.”