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Antioxidant Deficiency a Risk with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

What the Study Showed
How It Was Done
Why It's Important

What the Study Showed
 Researchers found that the level of key disease-fighting antioxidants drops dramatically in the presence of severe intestinal inflammation--the type of inflammation found in patients with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn's and ulcerative colitis.

How It Was Done
The investigators started by stimulating inflammation in the intestinal tissue of the study animals (rats) with drugs. One week later, they removed a section of the large intestine (the colon) from each of the animals. The degree of inflammation was then measured, as was the level of water-soluble antioxidants in the intestine.

Why It's Important
In the study, low antioxidant levels were most notable when intestinal inflammation was the most acute. Although this research was confined to rats, the message is also applicable to people experiencing severe intestinal inflammation: Aggressively consume antioxidants to avoid a deficiency in these critical disease-fighting compounds.

In fact, the body appears to adapt to mild inflammation in the intestines by actually boosting its own antioxidant levels (most likely as part of an effort to repair the tissue). But when the inflammation is severe, antioxidant concentrations plummet.

Antioxidants are abundant in fruits, vegetables, and various other foods, and represent one of the body's first line defenses in mopping up disease-causing oxygen free radicals. Antioxidant supplements are also available.

Future research may help to characterize exactly which antioxidants are low in the presence of severe IBD such as Crohn's and ulcerative colitis.

Source: Blau S, et al. Relation between colonic inflammation severity and total low-molecular-weight antioxidant profiles in experiential colitis. Digestive Diseases and Sciences 2000;45:1180-1187.


Date Published: 03/19/2001
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