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Against the Grain
New ideas and controversies in inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis)
Category: Medicine
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by Samir Kakodkar
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November 23, 2020 02:42 PM PST

There are many reasons why a whole food plant based diet may be helpful for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Data suggest limiting omega-6 PUFAs (ie oils), saturated fats, animal protein, and food additives may be associated with a reduced risk of developing IBD. A whole food plant based diet seems to check all of those boxes. However, this doesn’t change the fact that there are some out there who respond to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (which is a monosaccharide diet) that does not restrict meat, cheese or cooking oils. Enthusiasm for a whole food plant based diet is gaining steam not just for IBD but also other health conditions like heart disease, obesity, diabetes and prevention of cancer. It’s important to remember that there still is a lot of controversy regarding what is the optimal diet for human health if such a thing exists. Today I interviewed Shamiz and Shukul Kachwalla who are brothers who run High Carb Health and promote a whole food plant based diet. Shamiz has ulcerative colitis and has been maintaining drug free remission with a whole food plant based diet for over seven years. As a disclaimer, this podcast should not be interpreted as medical advice and is not an official endorsement of this diet for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease especially without appropriate medical therapy.

Their website: https://www.highcarbhealth.com/

Crohn's Disease Remission with a Plant-Based Diet: A Case Report:

Lifestyle-related disease in Crohn's disease: relapse prevention by a semi-vegetarian diet

July 12, 2020 08:55 AM PDT

For all the mega Against the Grain fans out there, here is the full theme song, version #1 in all its glory. The part you are familiar with is in the middle of the track.

Produced and Written by Samir Kakodkar. Borrowed some parts from theme from the ABC reality TV show The Mole (that nobody watched).
Circa 2003 at Northwestern University, Foster Walker Complex, on a microKorg and Garage Band.

July 12, 2020 08:47 AM PDT

For all the mega Against the Grain fans out there, here is the full theme song, version #2 in all its glory.

Produced and Written by Samir Kakodkar
Circa 2003 at Northwestern University, Foster Walker Complex, on a microKorg and Garage Band.

June 13, 2020 07:40 PM PDT

There are many theories out there regarding what causes Crohn’s disease. Though ultimately most physicians and scientists acknowledge that we don’t know the cause, there is a small subgroup that believe Crohn’s disease is caused by a specific bacteria called mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis which we will abbreviate as MAP. MAP mainly comes from infected cattle but is now ubiquitous in our environment and all of us are likely exposed to it on a regular basis.
The treatment paradigm for Crohn’s has mainly been the use of immunosuppressive medications which target a dysregulated immune system thought to be central to the pathophysiology of the disease. However, there are some that treat Crohn’s by targeting MAP with the use of antibiotics, fecal transplants and hyperbaric oxygen. There is even an anti-MAP vaccine in development. In my opinion, this is the biggest controversy in the IBD field right now. In fact, the Crohn’s Disease guidelines published by the American College of Gastroenterology in 2018 explicitly state that anti-MAP therapy has not been shown to be effective for induction or maintenance of remission or mucosal healing in patients with Crohn’s disease and should not be used as primary therapy. This led to subsequent letters being published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology both criticising and defending this statement.

Today I interviewed gastroenterologist Gaurav Agrawal and microbiologist John Aitken who are MAP experts and will give us a comprehensive overview of this topic.
As a disclaimer, I am not formally endorsing this therapy for Crohn’s disease as it has not been FDA approved for this purpose in the US. This podcast should not be interpreted as medical advice. This is an open discussion in order to encourage more research and awareness of this topic.

ACG Clinical Guideline: Management of Crohn’s Disease in Adults:

Comment on 2018 ACG Clinical Guideline: Antibiotics in Crohn's Disease:

Response to Chamberlin and Borody

Two-year Combination Antibiotic Therapy With Clarithromycin, Rifabutin, and Clofazimine for Crohn's Disease:

Targeted Combination Antibiotic Therapy Induces Remission in Treatment-Naïve Crohn's Disease: A Case Series:

Combining infliximab, anti-MAP and hyperbaric oxygen therapy for resistant fistulizing Crohn's disease

Profound Remission in Crohn's Disease Requiring No Further Treatment for 3-23 Years: A Case Series

Website regarding Crohn’s Disease Vaccine:

John Aitken’s


April 19, 2020 01:40 PM PDT

This is a show on some of my favorite ready-made food items. These would be considered processed foods to some degree, but definitely less processed than the types of things you would find at The Dollar Store or even a regular grocery store chain. Sometimes it’s nice to have food on hand that you don’t always have to prepare. I understand there are diet purists out there that don’t eat anything unless it is made from scratch. However, for those who are not able to dedicate a lot of time to cooking, these types of food products can help to reduce the time burden. Most of the products I mention would be compatible with the various diets used for inflammatory bowel disease including the Specific Carbohydrate Diet though there may be exceptions depending on the particular diet or stage you are in. Why are thes foods ok for IBD? Because they don’t have the food additives, refined flours or sweeteners that may be detrimental (though I understand even making that statement is controversial). I don’t receive any money or sponsorship from the companies that make these products so these are my unbiased opinions.

I’m happy to announce that my clinic is now equipped for video and telephone visits. For those who would like more personalized attention, you can schedule an appointment with me. I only treat adults - those 18 years old or over. You can email me at samir3@gmail.com for more information about a virtual appointment if you are interested.

April 05, 2020 02:27 PM PDT

This show will focus on the effect of stress on Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. I will define stress as the feeling of being challenged by a threatening event or evolving situation. Everyone experiences some degree of stress in life, but when it becomes chronic and perceived as severe, it can have adverse health effects. Many patients attribute their initial diagnosis and subsequent flares to stressful life events. But does stress actually make the inflammation of inflammatory bowel disease worse? I review what the literature says and also present a case of a patient with Crohn's colitis who subsequently had a normal colonoscopy with normal biopsies after decreasing stress in his life. As a disclaimer, this is just an anecdote and does not constitute evidence. I am not recommending stress reduction as a primary treatment modality for IBD without adjunctive appropriate medical therapy.

The Brain-Gut Axis and Stress in IBD by Bernstein: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29173525

Manitoba Registry showing stress not associated with intestinal inflammation:

UC patients with more inflammation with more stress:

Mindfulness Based Interventions in IBD by Hood et al : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29173527

Wim Hof Method Paper: https://www.wimhofmethod.com/uploads/kcfinder/files/PNAS.pdf

April 02, 2020 08:47 PM PDT

Today we are going to tackle Coronavirus, specifically SARS-CoV-2 which causes the disease COVID 19 in relation to gastrointestinal symptoms and disease. I will be interviewing Dr Kaushal Majmudar who is one of our great GI fellows at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. He recently did a Grand Rounds for our GI department on this very topic and went over all the recent data regarding pathogenesis, treatment and also recommendations from various GI societies for specific clinical scenarios regarding liver disease, endoscopy and inflammatory bowel disease. This will be valuable information for clinicians in all specialties and definitely for those working in GI. Though at times this does become technical at certain points, it will be valuable information for the non-physician audience too. At the end I will give my own thoughts about COVID 19 and IBD with comments on the relevance of the hygiene hypothesis, infusion centers and specific risks of medications. As a disclaimer, we are not the CDC or members of committees creating the guidelines that will be discussed. Opinions are our own. This is an open discussion and should not be interpreted as medical advice.

January 26, 2020 04:31 PM PST

Dr. Mitsuro Chiba is an MD, PhD is a gastroenterologist and researcher at Akita City Hospital, Kawamoto, Akita City, Japan.
He believes that inflammatory bowel disease is a lifestyle disease mediated mainly by a westernized diet, and has had many subsequent publications detailing his use of a plant based, semi-vegetarian diet.
He began to provide a plant-based diet for patients with inflammatory bowel disease at Nakadori General Hospital (Akita City, Japan) in 2003, and then continued to provide the diet at Akita City Hospital since 2013. We had a very detailed discussion regarding his well cited paper "Lifestyle-related disease in Crohn’s disease: Relapse prevention by a semi-vegetarian diet" published in 2010 which demonstrated the efficacy of using a plant based diet in combination with infliximab for induction of remission then maintenance with a plant based diet alone.
Though Dr. Chiba’s English is excellent, special thank you to Dr. Chiba’s daughter Kaeko who helped with translation at certain points of the interview.
This podcast should not be interpreted as medical advice as a plant based diet is not FDA approved for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.

Dr. Chiba's study:

Lester Breslow's 1980 publication regarding healthy habits:

January 18, 2020 05:07 PM PST

This is my much anticipated interview with Judy Herod who has been on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (which we will often abbreviate as SCD) for over 50 years for ulcerative colitis with rapid clinical response and sustained drug-free remission. Her mother is the late Elaine Gottschall, biochemist and author of Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet which is the book that describes the SCD protocol in detail and started the food/ibd movement several decades ago. Judy has likely been using dietary therapy for her ulcerative colitis longer than anyone else in the world. There are many parents who have young children on the SCD. I thought it would be valuable to hear from someone who has been on this protocol for so long to perhaps get a sense of what life can be like using SCD as a treatment strategy long term. As a disclaimer, this podcast should not be interpreted as medical advice as the SCD is not as of yet an FDA approved treatment for Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.

SCD Website: http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/

October 05, 2019 03:47 PM PDT

Barbara Olendzki RD, MPH, LDN is Associate Professor of Medicine and the Nutrition Program Director of the Center for Applied Nutrition at the University of Massachusetts. She is passionate about research and clinical care of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), cardiac concerns, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other inflammatory diseases. She has 20 years of experience in the nutrition field. She created the IBD-anti inflammatory diet (IBD-AID) which is based on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet but with an emphasis on pre and probiotics, healthy fats and textures of foods. It also includes certain carbohydrates like oatmeal and other foods that are otherwise forbidden on the SCD.
She published a case series in 2014 of 11 patients with IBD who went on her dietary protcol. Most of these patients had failed one or more medications, or medications had no effect or there was a loss of response. After using the IBD-AID, all patients were able to de-escalate medical therapy to some degree and all had symptoms reduced. Since that publication, she has updated the protocol and kindly shared her insights regarding implementing the IBD-AID clinically. As a disclaimer, this is not an endorsement or recommendation of this diet for the treatment of IBD as the IBD-AID has not been FDA approved for this purpose.
Barbara's website can be found here: https://www.umassmed.edu/nutrition/

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