Fibre in IBD: Feeding Our Microbes vs. Fuelling Inflammation
While studies show that dietary fibres are beneficial in many diseases, they are not digested or absorbed directly by the host, but rather fermented by gut microbes. Fermentation byproducts (mostly short-chain fatty-acids; SCFAs) are responsible for health benefits. Only select inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) patients benefit from fibres; many patients report sensitivity to high fibre foods, especially during disease flares. Dietary fibres resemble structures found on the surface of pathogens that induce host cell inflammation. We hypothesize that the hallmark gut microbe imbalance in IBD leads to dysregulated fibre fermentation, increased interactions of unfermented fibres with host cells, and reduced beneficial byproducts, resulting in worsened inflammation. This study aims to define how fibres are processed in IBD and identify novel dietary/microbe-altering therapeutics, offering safer therapeutic options for IBD patients. The Weston Foundation has offered partnership for funding our research, and providing a panel of experts to assist regularly with the translational aspects of the study. Our research program has been identified as a priority by the Weston Foundation and they are interested in further developing our findings to aid in improving the lives of Canadians, and others, suffering from these chronic and severely debilitating gastrointestinal diseases.