To commemorate World IBD Day (May 19), the B.G.S.S.’s first ‘Research Spotlight’ is on UBC-O PhD students, Natasha Haskey and Mehrbod (Bod) Estaki.
IBD is a term used to describe chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. The two most common diseases are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease is caused by inflammation in the lining of the entire digestive tract, whereas ulcerative colitis is caused by inflammation and ulcers in the large intestine. People with IBD may suffer from diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloody stools, fatigue and weight loss.
To date, there is no cure for IBD; however, medications are available to decrease inflammation and manage symptoms. Researchers are still trying to uncover the causes of IBD, but it is thought that there are several factors: overactive immune system, diet, imbalanced bacteria in the intestine, the environment, and/or genetics.
In an effort to find answers, Natasha and Bod are exploring how diet and active lifestyles can change the gut microbiome (intestinal bacteria) and whether those changes affect IBD.
Bod’s research goal is to understand what role the gut microbiome plays in preventing and treating IBD, and the main focus is to determine if a physically active lifestyle can benefit intestinal health and whether that can reduce IBD symptoms. To date, there are no guidelines on whether people with IBD should exercise or not. Bod aims to figure out if exercise can be used in conjunction with regular treatments to reduce the symptoms of IBD.
Natasha along with her Supervisor, Deanna Gibson (Associate Professor, UBC-O) are a conducting a clinical study with Dr. Singh (Gastroenterologist, Kelowna) looking at how diet impacts the gut microbiome of patients living with ulcerative colitis. The study’s goal is to determine how patient diet impacts disease symptoms, disease activity, and patient quality of life. Natasha, Gibson and Singh are hopeful that the research will explain how diet plays a role in ulcerative colitis by impacting intestinal bacteria. Understanding the diet-bacteria-ulcerative colitis relationship may lead to novel ways to manage IBD, such as diet treatment.
If you are interested in volunteering for this cause, consider applying for the Kelowna Gutsy Walk (June 4, 2017).
If you are suffering from ulcerative colitis and would like to participate in the clinical study, please see below.
Author: Melissa Larrabee