What people with IBD should know

I am often asked, “What would you tell someone recently diagnosed with IBD?” So, this is what I think you should know! Look out for clickable links in this blog, leading to more detailed information! For many, a definitive diagnosis is a massive relief after a long period of being unwell. This does not mean that acceptance is easy, after all, you have just been diagnosed with a chronic disease which has no cure. Do NOT panic, we’ve got this, life is not over! It is worth pointing out that no two IBD patients’ lives are the same. The disease does not always manifest in the same way, and the fact that a treatment works for one person does not mean it will work for another. This makes IBD notoriously difficult to treat. That said, some IBD patients may have one flare, find the right medication straight away and never have another, and that is fantastic! For the rest of us, being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis may mean some lifestyle changes and som

Nutrition and Proteins

I made the decision to do some studying in my spare time and wanted to learn a little bit more about nutrition. In part, because I have Inflammatory bowel disease but also because it’s always going to be useful knowledge to have. I thought I was enrolling on a course that was going to talk about proteins from a health perspective. I soon realised I had signed up to study science. I enjoyed biology at secondary school and still have an interest in it now, but I have to admit that reading in depth about molecular structures had me baffled and I found myself repeatedly reading the same parts in an effort to understand them. Chemistry always was my least favourite science.
I am looking specifically at the role of protein in the diet from the perspective of a chronic illnesses sufferer; I can’t help it!

Protein comes from the Greek word protos, which means “first” or “primary,” reflecting the body’s fundamental need for this nutrient.

Proteins form an integral part of the components of all living cells and a typical cell in the human body contains 18% protein, though some cell types such as muscle cells, contain much more. Some proteins have a largely structural role in the body, forming tendons and hair, others are produced in and then released from cells and function as enzymes and hormones.

If insufficient protein is present in the diet for the body's needs then it starts to break down its own proteins. Since muscles contain large amounts of protein, the result of a low-protein diet is muscle-wasting. People with a poor appetite, perhaps due to some underlying medical condition may also be short of protein, and muscle weakness is common in those.

Extra dietary protein is needed by people who are suffering from injury, infection, burns and cancer, as all of these conditions increase the rate of loss of protein from the body. The upper safe limit of protein intake is probably around 1.5 g per kg of body mass per day. Higher intakes may cause loss of minerals from the bones which can then result in fractures.

Nutrition is also a critical factor in the wound healing process, with adequate protein intake essential to the successful healing of a wound. Patients with both chronic and acute wounds, such as postsurgical wounds or pressure ulcers require an increased amount of protein to ensure complete and timely healing. The wound healing process makes protein loss worse as the body can lose up to 100 milligrams of protein per day due to exudation, or fluid leakage from the affected area.

Proteins also play structural roles, as the contractile proteins actin and myosin found in cardiac, skeletal, and smooth muscle and as the fibrous proteins collagen, elastin, and keratin. During the proliferative phase of wound repair, collagen deposition is crucial to increase the wound’s tensile strength. 40% of the body’s protein occurs in skeletal muscle—the major component of lean body mass, the metabolically active tissues of the body. Lean body mass declines with age and critical illness, significantly compromising the body’s ability to carry out all the necessary functions of protein.

Now, did we all learn the value of protein? Good!