Would an astronauts diet affect the gut bacteria in Crohn's disease patients?

12 June 2011

Question

Would an astronauts diet affect the gut bacteria in Crohn's disease patients?

Answer

Chris - For people who have Crohn's, if you put them on astronaut food, so an elemental diet with just the nutrients they need and nothing else, their Crohn's got better. So what does that do to their bacteria then? Karen - I mean, that's a very severe treatment I think overall. That would be a sterile diet I presume. There'd be no bacteria in that astronaut diet. Chris - I don't think so. The other point about it is that it's literally just nothing more than the nutrients you need and in no more excessive quantities than what you would want. It tastes awful apparently and it's very miserable to eat it. It has life prolonging effects only because it makes you feel like you're living forever because life is going so slowly. But it does apparently make people's Crohn's disease regress completely. Karen - I mean I don't really know about that but I imagine that most of those nutrients will be being absorbed in the upper gastrointestinal tract. So what you're almost trying to do there is starve the bacteria in your colon and reduce the numbers of them so that they no longer inflame the cell wall of the colon, because that's what causes Crohn's disease is, an inflammation of the colon. So if you try to stop or try to eliminate the bacteria that are normally present there by starving them, by only feeding the person food that is all absorbed higher up in the gastrointestinal tract, then that might be part of the reason that works.

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