Is the Mediterranean Diet in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Ready for Prime Time?

J Can Assoc Gastroenterol. 2023 Dec 23;7(1):97-103. doi: 10.1093/jcag/gwad041.eCollection 2024 Feb.


Lihi Godny 1 2Iris Dotan 1 3


Author information

1Division of Gastroenterology, Rabin Medical Center, Petah-Tikva, 49100, Israel.

2Nutrition Unit, Rabin Medical Center, Petah-Tikva, 49100, Israel.

3Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, 69978, Israel.


Background: The rising incidence of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), specifically in the developing world, suggests an important environmental effect. Amongst environmental influences, dietary factors, particularly the adoption of a westernized diet, have been specifically noticed. In contrast, the Mediterranean diet (MED), characterized by high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, olive oil, and moderate consumption of animal and ultra processed foods, has shown potential positive effects in IBD.

Methods: Here we conducted a narrative review focusing on the evidence regarding the role of MED in IBD prevention and management.

Results: Epidemiological studies suggest inverse association of MED with CD development. Furthermore, adherence to MED has been associated with clinical improvement in active CD and maintenance of lower levels of inflammatory markers in UC, along with improved quality of life and lower mortality rates in IBD patients. Mechanistically, MED promotes a diverse and beneficial gut microbiota, possesses anti-inflammatory properties through polyphenols and dietary fats, and may modulate oxidative stress. In clinical practice, MED may be adapted to diverse disease phenotypes and cultural preferences, and is a sustainable, easy to maintain dietary approach.

Conclusion: Current evidence may support the integration of MED into clinical practice in IBD care. In future research, the efficacy of MED in specific IBD phenotypes should be assessed.

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