Bengaluru: Thanks to indulging processed food, the disease of the West has now found a home in the country. The inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes both ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s Disease (CD), is being witnessed here.
Also, researches indicate that there has been a spurt in the number of IBD cases in the country. The reasons attributed are the use of too many preservatives, additives, highly processed foods and mineral water. Processed foods can alter the gut biome and eventually affect the immune system. “IDB which is a disease of the West can now be witnessed among patients here and the change in food pattern and socioeconomic status has affected the bacterial flora and with highly processed foods, the native bacterial flora gets destroyed. The increase in Crohn's Disease can be attributed to this," said Dr Rajvigna Venugopal, consultant and HoD, Gastrology Department at Manipal Hospital. He, however, stressed that genetic factor too cannot be ruled out. “Foods with artificial sweeteners affect the lining of the intestine and we have seen patients as young as six or seven being affected by IBD," he said.
Statistics indicate that about 50 lakh people around the world have IBD. In India, the number exceeds 12 lakh annually. Signs and symptoms of IBD include diarrhoea, fever and fatigue, abdominal pain and cramping, blood in the stool, reduced appetite and unintended weight loss.
Padma Shri awardee Dr K.K. Aggarwal, president, Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI), and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “IBD is an umbrella term for a number of long-term conditions that involve inflammation of the digestive tract or the gut. It is, however, different from an irritable bowel syndrome. If not addressed on time, IBD can lead to a number of complications including damage to the bowel and malnutrition. The two main types of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease. The gut microbiome is the cause and cure of gut diseases. To avoid IBD, people must opt for natural organic foods which are a healthier choice. This will also help in avoiding complications in the intestine. Making better food choices will ensure that the gut has a combination of different good bacteria which help the body systems function smoothly."
Sadly, the disease treatment is also a costly affair. "It is not an inexpensive disease and there are different levels of medicines. For severe cases, you might have to use medicines as costly as Rupees 3-4 lakh as the biologicals used for the treatment are expensive. Each dosage costs the patient close to Rs 24,000," Dr Venugopal said.
Dr Aggarwal, who is also Group Editor of IJCP, said, “IBD is generally treated with anti-inflammatory drugs which are special derivatives of 5 ASA derivatives. These are used orally or through enema, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, biological agents, antibiotics, anti-diarrheal drugs, and laxatives. Regular treatment and frequent tests are imperative.”