Results of a large, prospective study published in The Journal of Nutrition suggest a potential benefit of fiber intake in patients with inflammatory bowel disease, particularly among those with Crohn disease.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis, is a lifelong chronic condition. Identifying dietary factors that trigger flare-ups is crucial to IBD management. Patients with IBD are often cautioned to limit their intakes of high fiber foods due to a perception that these types of foods can trigger inflammatory episodes and subsequently increase the risk of IBD-related surgery.  The clinical benefits of dietary fiber in patients with IBD are controversial and there is insufficient evidence to determine whether high-fiber consumption should be recommended in the dietary management of IBD.

To better understand this challenging question, Tain (Central South University) and colleagues utilized data from the UK Biobank, an ongoing nationwide prospective cohort project. Inpatient data and primary care data were used to identify 5580 individuals diagnosed with IBD that met study eligibility criteria.  A 7-item IBD-associated healthy diet score using baseline food questionnaires as an overall measurement of diet quality was calculated. Information regarding IBD-related surgery was ascertained through inpatient data.

Study results suggest an inverse association between fiber intake and surgery risk among individuals with IBD, especially Crohn disease, but not ulcerative colitis. Analyses also demonstrated that the potential benefits of dietary fiber may vary by source. Protective associations were observed between fiber from vegetables, fruit, and some types of fiber in bread.  Although further studies are needed to confirm these findings, patients with IBD may benefit from consuming more fiber from fruits and vegetables, whereas fiber from certain bread and cereals should be consumed with caution. These findings also call for a need to re-evaluate recommendations to limit dietary fiber in IBD.


Deng M, Dan L, Ye S, Chen X, Want X, Tian L, Chen J. Higher Fiber Intake is Associated with Reduced Risk of Related Surgery among Individuals with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases in a Prospective Cohort Study. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 153, Issue 8, August 2023, Pages 2274-2282,

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