$1.8 million grant awarded to investigate the role of food additives in Crohn’s disease

18th May 2019

Guts UK are delighted that Dr Kevin Whelan and his fantastic team including Dr Megan Rossi at Kings College London have just received a $1.8 million (£1.42 million) to investigate the role that food additives can play in Crohn’s disease.

The role of diet in managing Crohn’s disease remains largely untouched in the research world, and while gastroenterologists have initial suspicions, there have, as of yet, not been enough research studies to determine the link between diet and Crohn’s disease. However, Dr Megan Rossi indicates that diet can in fact play a huge role in managing the disease and flare-ups. The question that the team at the Department of Nutritional Sciences will seek to answer is if a low-additive diet can in fact improve symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

Dr Kevin Whelan (left) and member of his research team Dr Megan Rossi (right)

What are dietary additives?

Additives are added to our dietary products to help improve shelf life, taste, texture, and consistency amongst others. So many food products now include additives, particularly those that are highly processed. Previous research has shown that additives impact the trillions of bacteria in our guts, known as our microbiome, and can cause leakiness in the gut. This can actually exacerbate symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

If the research team’s hypothesis is correct, they could uncover a highly effective, low-cost treatment for patients with Crohn’s disease that could help ease some of these painful symptoms through a simple diet management tool.

What will the study involve?

Over the course of eight weeks, the study will involve patients from five major hospitals across London. Patients will be split into two groups: one following a low-additive diet plan, and the other a control group. If you are affected by Crohn’s disease and would like to participate in this research, contact your gastroenterologist to enquire about eligibility.

Watch Dr Kevin Whelan and Dr Megan Rossi talk about their study here:

Dr Whelan and Dr Rossi discuss their research study with the British Dietetic Association

As an individual who has led research with a Guts UK grant, we are thrilled to see Dr Whelan’s achievements and wish him luck with this fascinating new study.

Crohn’s disease affects over 115,000 people in the UK alone, and millions more across the world. Symptoms of Crohn’s disease include abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting and diarrhoea, alongside painful joints and skin rashes. This exciting new study could highlight a fantastic new method of treatment for patients with Crohn’s disease and help ease some of these painful symptoms more effectively than current treatment plans through diet management.

To read more, visit the British Dietetic Association’s website here.

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