The impact of a whole-food, plant-based diet on intestinal inflammation
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There is substantial evidence that the “Western” dietary pattern, a diet defined as being relatively high in red and processed meat, total fat, refined/processed foods, and relatively lacking in vegetables and fruits, is associated with increased intestinal inflammation, which in turn is implicated in the pathophysiology of disease states such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer (CRC). Conversely, there is accumulating evidence suggesting that plant-based foods that contain whole grains, dietary fiber, antioxidant vitamins, and phytochemicals, have anti-inflammatory effects in the gut. However, there is a paucity of research investigating the anti-inflammatory effects of a dietary pattern that eliminates all animal products (typical of a Western dietary pattern) and is instead entirely plant-based. Such a pattern, which eliminates all animal products (including meat, eggs, and dairy), eliminates the foods associated with intestinal inflammation and instead replaces them with plant-based foods, many of which have been found to be anti-inflammatory. The proposed study is a prospective study that will use fecal calprotectin to quantify the levels of intestinal inflammation in healthy participants before and after shifting them from a predominantly Western dietary pattern to an entirely plant-based dietary pattern. This study will help determine whether substituting a plant-based dietary pattern for Western dietary pattern decreases intestinal inflammation, thereby supporting its use as a potential treatment modality for those with IBD (in conjunction with or in place of pharmaceutical treatment regimens) and as an intervention for primary prevention of IBD and CRC.